So many of us can point to a family member or close friend as the means by which we chose jewelry as our career. And while there were several very significant people who influenced Andy Marthaler to sit at the bench and learn, he and his wife Tonya view their journey as one put before them from above. As owners of a brand new store in Asheville, NC, they are quick to humbly tell you, “it’s a God story,” and after hearing it you’ll no doubt agree.
The journey from origin to fruition is filled with minor details. It is often minor details, however, that become major factors in getting us to our dreams. The same is true with Andy’s start in jewelry.
While in high school Andy’s first jewelry job was at the local store in Detroit Lakes, MN, cleaning windows and the glass on the jewelry cases. His boss was meticulous, teaching Andy to do things “the right way.” Roger Price saw something in Andy he wanted to foster and offered to mentor him at the bench.
“At first all he’d let Andy do was size rings down,” recalls Tonya. “Andy wasn’t allowed to do anything more. And if the work wasn’t up to Roger’s standards, then he would hand it back to Andy and have him do it again.”
The attention to detail that Roger insisted upon is now the cornerstone of Andy’s success. Customers are drawn to his high standards for quality workmanship in everything he makes and in every line he carries.
After two years at the bench, Andy headed to the Gemological Institute of America and obtained his Graduate Gemologist certification. He eventually found his way to Asheville, NC in 2004. In Asheville Andy found new opportunity and his wife, Tonya and stepson, Matthew. Together they dreamed about owning their own store one day, even going so far as to create a business plan, incorporate for tax purposes and choose a location for their future store.
Everything was moving forward until, well, it stopped.
“I’m not even sure we can point to one thing that caused us to stop going forward with our plans,” recalls Tonya. “We really just hit a wall where we couldn’t move forward. Looking back now we know it simply wasn’t the right time.”
Over the next few years Andy worked at several stores, ending up at Carlyle Jewelers where he ran into a former customer named Debra. She remembered Andy for his ethical, honest appraisal of her jewelry several years earlier and was delighted to see him again.
Several months later Debra needed to replace her wedding ring and came straight to Andy. Andy worked on a custom design for her and created a family heirloom that she and her husband Peter were thrilled with.
Time passed and the future of Carlyle was in question. One day Peter walked into the store and asked Andy what he was going to do when the store closed.
“I still remember the day Andy called me to tell me that Peter had asked him about his plans,” Tonya says. “When Andy answered honestly, saying he didn’t know, Peter asked if he still wanted to open his own store. So we sat down with Debra and Peter to discuss it.”
In less than a week after their initial meeting Andy and Tonya were creating spreadsheets and allowing themselves to believe their dream was coming true.
This past January, Marthaler Jewelers christened a brand new 2300 sq. ft. location with custom built cases and attention to every detail. Complete with an Old World style from the post and beam structure to the Charleston Harbor brick to the handcrafted doors made by Tonya’s dad; everything was made to feel warm, inviting and rustic.
“I just love that my dad was able to incorporate a design centered around crosses for our door,” states Tonya. “It just adds to the significance of this new store and points to where we put our trust and hope.”
It has been almost three years since they initially opened the doors to Marthaler Jewelers, with the backing of Debra and Peter. The original store was in a different location and was only 1000 sq. ft. It was their start-up store and it exceeded all revenue projections. They quickly outgrew it and have been blessed to be able to build out a completely custom store at their new location.
Tonya’s voice starts to break with emotion as she recalls all of the detail that went in to getting them where they are today. She looks back on that initial planning that hit a wall and says she can see God’s hand in the roadblocks. She calls Andy the “magic” behind the store and speaks of the partnership with Debra and Peter as a gift from God.
“How else could we open our own store without a single loan from the bank, be able to make a living doing what we love and reap the success of honesty if it weren’t a gift from God? We committed ourselves to showing up every day, working hard and being good stewards of the gift that Peter and Debra shared with us.”
As for Andy, he recognizes “this is a tremendous blessing to be able to do what I love and be successful at it.”