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Small Business:
The Store Ltd
Betty Cooke
Interview Date:
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"Early in my career, I worked with a successful jeweler to learn some techniques. She made little flowers with petals and leaves; I would make the stems. That’s when I realized that I liked the simple stems more than the flowers.

I'm basically shy. I don’t always want to talk to people, but I can talk about jewelry and my customers’ ideas. It's pretty exciting when I come up with something and they're so excited about it. I’m proud that I make something that pleases people.

You have to like what you're doing, and you have to know what you like. I like beautiful things. I like nature. I can look at the sky and get pretty excited. I don’t like paperwork.

When my husband and I started The Store Ltd. in 1965, we had a partner. Then I said that I didn't want to write letters or do taxes or insurance or anything like that, and the partner left. 

Over the years, we were offered to open some shops in different parts of the country, but we didn’t do that—we weren’t interested in a chain or a bigger development. I was established in Baltimore and I’ve never thought about leaving.

For a while my jewelry was in Vogue, Mademoiselle - a lot of those fashion magazines - but it didn’t phase me too much. For me, it was more fun to have somebody buy jewelry here in person than just putting it in a package and sending it away.

I’m always excited to create the next thing that surprises me and my customer, while still creating something that looks like mine.

I happen to doodle a lot on the telephone if it’s a long conversation. I end up sketching all kinds of things that I won’t always reproduce, but sometimes they look really good - or sometimes there's a lot of anger, or even a lot of patience.

It’s hard to define what makes good design. It’s hard to put it in words. I just think that a lot of people overdo it. They try so hard to make something different that it starts to make the work look like a struggle. I’ve had that happen. I look back at those pieces and say ‘yeah, I worked on it too hard. It’s not free enough.’

I heard a story once about someone who put a chair at the top of a big grassy hill and asked people to go up and sit in it. Everyone had to move this chair before sitting, no matter what. They had to tilt it or rotate it - for some reason - whatever the reason. I just think that’s really interesting."

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The Store Ltd
The Store Ltd specializes in decorative houseware, women's clothing and Betty Cooke designer jewelry.
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