READ TIME: 5-7 MINS
HOW IT STARTED - THE COMPANY BEFORE THE COMPANY
Dane Stevens and Keith Seabrook
Dane: “Anytime I get asked about how Cavalier came to be, the first place I like to start (if you’re in the mood for a long story), is back to the early 70s, where my Opa, Chris Adams and his Son- my uncle, Harry Adams, started Adams and Sons Importers.
The business looked very different back then. To be in the business, you were either mining gemstones, cutting gemstones, importing gemstones for wholesale, or you were a retailer. In Adams and Son’s case, they took the wholesaling route with a priority in selling stones purchased from mines, directly to retailers in the Canadian markets.
There was a time when my Opa and Uncle were living in Brazil, they would bring stones home to Canada, and then travel across the country to sell them to retailers. Eventually, they grew curious about stones from other regions, so they explored mining relationships in Africa and eventually throughout Asia from the 80s into the early 2000s.
I started getting my feet wet within the business out of high school, where my Uncle and Opa started introducing me to some of their industry relationships, some of which are still carried on in our business with Cavalier today.”
HOW THEY MET
Keith: “Dane and I first met on the local hockey rink when we were about 5 years old, our parents were friends and we lived in neighbouring communities, so naturally, we became friends as well. We went to different schools, excelled in different sports as we grew up, but no matter how busy life got, we always seemed to make time for each other. It was rare and we never took that for granted.
After my first sourcing trip to Thailand with Dane and his Opa, I really got a feel of the ins and outs of the industry. Each stone had their own story, their own lustre, it was hard not to be fascinated - I knew right then and there that I wanted to be a part of it, I knew it could be our story to tell.
Something that always stuck with me and played a huge factor when I decided to partner up with Dane, was the ability to make the business what we wanted it to be - there were no playbooks, no guidelines, no ceiling."
THE EARLY DAYS
Dane: “After spending a few years selling stones on the road, I decided I needed to take steps to make it my own. How could I drive the business to become more vertically integrated while still honouring my family legacy?
I knew the business was changing, the wholesaling sector was hitting a plateau and I felt the market was not being utilized to the potential I believed it to have, especially within the depths of gemstones and their rarity.
Keith and I became official business partners in 2012, a year later we opened Cavalier as a brick and mortar storefront in the heart of Vancouver’s Gastown. We tackled challenges within the industry together and worked hard to build a new narrative of the stones we were selling, tapping into demands within the market we knew were there.
People will always want something different, something special, unique and of value- that we knew would never change and it still hasn’t today.
When we opened the shop in 2013, we found out very quickly that we needed to fill the showcases. We developed relationships with local designers and carried an eclectic variety of jewellery. Soon after that, we worked to develop enough of our own designs in-house to transition it exclusively to our own collection.
At the time, although we didn’t realize it, we were taking a huge risk in more ways than one by showcasing fine gemstones on such a large scale. Would we see the demand in our shop that we knew was out there?
Social media was huge for us, Instagram was the new kid on the block, it was blowing up... and we had absolutely no idea what we were doing - thank goodness for Brianna Saimoto. We worked hard to leverage a new and exciting (and terrifying) marketing platform, we connected with our local communities and networked to show people that we were committed to the scene, and that we were here to stay.
We showed up, everyday. We hired strategically, which is still a very important pillar within our business today- find yourself a Brianna Saimoto, if you know, you know.”
FUTURE PLANS FOR THE BUSINESS
Keith: “The people within Cavalier, our team that shows up everyday, how we conduct ourselves within the business, how we work together - it’s something I’m the most proud of when I think about Cavaliers greatest assets. I don’t think it’s easy to create an environment where everyone from different walks of life can come together and feel comfortable and excited.
I always want our people to be our priority, investing back into our team, giving them the tools to excel will only radiate back to the experience we offer to our clients, which is the whole reason we are here and will continue to be here.
We often get asked if we have plans to expand into different cities or new locations, of course we would love to, but we’re not willing to sacrifice the quality of our product or our service expectations to get there. Every time we think about it, we come back to our team and our community first.
I will say, there are some very exciting things just around the corner for Cavalier, and we already can’t wait to share them with you when the time is right.”
Dane: “Learn what makes you different, what makes you and your business special, and figure out how you can highlight that voice in an authentic and powerful way. Listen to your community- What are they saying to you? What do they want to see from you? How do you want them to see you?
Show up everyday. Set your targets out of reach, and when you reach them, set them higher.
When (a positive affirmation, no “if’s” here) you feel like you’re at the top of your game - you have to change, you have to adapt to be better from where people think you are.
Check back in with your foundation, often, use that as your baseline but never stop working to improve it.
Tell your story and mean it.”