Tag Archives: shop

The Silicon Trail

March 28, 2017 by

When United Airlines’ first daily nonstop service flight from Eppley Airfield to San Francisco International Airport eased away from the gate in September 2016, Randy Thelen made certain he had a seat.

The senior vice president for economic development at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce saw the importance of that 7 a.m. flight—believed to be the first regular nonstop service between the two cities in a quarter century. Shortly after 9 a.m., he was on the West Coast, in the fertile Silicon Valley, ready for business.

Despite Omaha’s firm footing in the Silicon Prairie—with tech giants like PayPal, Google, LinkedIn, and Yahoo all maintaining a significant presence in the metro—Omaha long struggled with a serious shortcoming when it came time to recruit more. The same shortcoming didn’t help local technology startups secure financial backing from the apparent over-abundance of thick wallet in the Bay area.

Getting from Silicon Valley to Omaha’s corner of the Silicon Prairie was more than a hassle. It usually required at least one connecting flight, stretching a three-hour nonstop flight into nearly a full day of airplanes and airports … and that’s the delay-free version.

“As much as we don’t want location to be a barrier, there’s a very real situation where Silicon Valley investors won’t fly somewhere if they have to switch planes,” says Dusty Davidson, the CEO and co-founder of Flywheel, an Omaha-based startup that builds and hosts WordPress websites. Davidson is also known for his role in creating Silicon Prairie News and one of the largest entrepreneurial tech conferences in the region, Big Omaha.

“It’s not the connection, it’s the time,” he adds.

The required connecting flights cast a pall over Omaha’s distinct advantage as a low-cost jewel compared to the Silicon Valley. Omaha’s lower cost of living and more affordable housing helps save companies on their largest expense: wages. Add in the various business incentives available from the state, along with a strong talent pool and sound infrastructure, and Omaha makes an attractive option for startup and established tech companies, with that notable exception.

“We came up short on the connectivity or on the flights in and out of Silicon Valley,” Thelen says.

Then United Airlines made San Francisco’s International Airport the nation’s 25th airport with regular nonstop flight services to and from Omaha. This spring, a 26th regular nonstop Omaha route will open between here and Houston via Southwest Airlines.

“Now, we’ve taken away that competitive disadvantage, and we’ve been able to promote it as an advantage,” Thelen says. “It really has changed the conversation as we try to continue to build that pipeline between here and Silicon Valley.”

“The ability to have direct service does have an impact on the businesses that choose to do business here,” says Nancy Miller, vice president of operations at Travel and Transport, a national travel booking company based in Omaha. “I think it helps Omaha businesses.”

That an airline would add a regular nonstop flight to San Francisco lends credence to claims of Omaha’s growth as a potential hub in the Silicon Prairie.

“The Omaha economy really seems to have been doing well over the last couple of years,” says Dave Roth, deputy executive director of the Omaha Airport Authority. “It’s just a really positive combination of Omaha and the airlines for those additional flights.”

Omaha has popped up on several national lists as a new hot spot for tech startups. SmartAsset named Omaha the best city in the nation to work in tech in 2015, and Nebraska has been No. 3 on Forbes’ list of Best States for Business for two years running.

Thelen used his first flight to the Silicon Valley to meet with a dozen tech companies, some who already have outposts in town, and few others he’d like see set up shop.

“For the cost of one hotel stay and a pretty simple flight in and out, you can get two full business days of work without the hassle of changing planes and the risk of getting delayed,” Thelen says. “The convenience of business travel just went up exponentially, and you can expect that connectivity to continue to grow.”

Executives headquartered in San Francisco can more easily visit and engage with their Midwestern operations. Or, employees based in Omaha can more efficiently meet with leadership in Silicon Valley. Officials at PayPal and LinkedIn—which employ about 2,800 and 300 people, respectively, in the Omaha area—say there is frequent travel between the Silicon Valley and their operations in Omaha, but exact figures were unavailable.

“To have firms like that, that now have much, much easier access back and forth, frankly it makes our location all that more integral to the operation because it’s a simpler connect now,” Thelen says.

He added: “That simple flight makes a big, big difference.”

And even homegrown startups can take advantage. They can get twice as much done on recruiting trips from the valley, whether they are looking for talent or financing.

Davidson, the CEO at Flywheel, says the increased connectivity will indeed make a big difference for local companies raising money. There still remains a lot of work to put Omaha “on the map” with more sources of local capital and slowing the export of the state’s top technology talent, to name a few.

“I don’t know that you’re able to look at [direct flights to San Francisco] and say, ‘Hey, look, we solved the problem,’” he says. “I think there’s 50 things that are contributing, and what you really want to do is, just one at a time, start whittling away.”

Visit omahachamber.org for more information.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Jeannie Ohira and Joseph Pittack

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Summer is in full swing in the metro, bringing the kind of heat that make us all want to scream for some good old-fashioned ice cream. Jeannie Ohira and Joseph Pittack, the brother-sister duo and proud owners of Ted and Wally’s Premium Homemade Ice Cream at 12th and Howard streets, can accommodate those cravings with their all-natural ice cream available in some tantalizing and daring flavors.

Both Omaha natives, Ohira and Pittack began their ice cream careers by working at Ted and Wally’s under previous owners Dave Kirschenman and Julie Gilbert. In 2001, Kirschenman and Gilbert decided to sell the shop and Ohira and Pittack were up for the adventure.

“I called Joe, who had moved to Lincoln to go to school to become an English teacher, and said ‘Hey, do you want to come back, try to get a loan, and run this?’” Ohira says.20130506_bs_3374_Web

Her brother was onboard, and the two quickly rolled up their sleeves, staying faithful to the founding philosophy of quality and community but making some modifications along the way. The partnership proved to be not only ambitious but successful, too. Under Ohira and Pittack’s ownership, the shop switched to using all-natural ingredients purchased fresh from local merchants. In order to accomplish this, they created their own recipe for the ice cream base to replace the previous one purchased from Hiland Dairy. The result was a more costly and labor-intensive process but one that has earned awards for Ted and Wally’s, as well as loyal customers both locally and out-of-state.

“It’s a product we make in-house, made from scratch, and nobody else has our recipe,” Pittack says. “Ted and Wally’s in the Old Market has been doing it since 1986, so it’s an Omaha tradition. We have generations of people that come in here now.”

Ted and Wally’s unique flavors are what garner the most attention. Sure, the shop offers traditional flavors, such as chocolate and vanilla, but Ohira and Pittack tend to showcase more creative selections they’ve invented themselves. Sometimes, shop employees and the public chime in with flavors they’d like to see.20130506_bs_3379_Web

To date, Ohira and Pittack have created more than 1,000 ice cream flavors, not including variations. Some public favorites include Monica’s Unicorn Farts, a cotton candy-marshmallow-cake mix with Lucky Charms and sprinkles. Suggested by a Ted and Wally’s employee, the flavor was a big hit, as was Mr. Cigar, a cigar-flavored ice cream celebrating the birthday of Mr. Cigar at S.G. Roi Tobacconist. Another customer favorite is Quit Yer Job and Eat Chocolate, a concoction of chocolate mousse ice cream with chocolate chips, brownies, and Oreos. But those flavors, albeit tasty, are tame compared to some of the other creations Ohira and Pittack have come up with.

Some of the more unusual flavors have been bacon, fish, and prime rib. Sriracha ice cream has been on the chalked menu board, as well as jalapeño. Recently, Ohira created a new flavor featuring grilled octopus, which, she admits, “is probably not going to be a big seller.”20130506_bs_3462_Web

As for what inspires these nontraditional flavors, everything is game. Sometimes, a friend’s story will spark an idea; other times, it’s a book. Ohira says she must’ve created at least 100 new flavors after reading Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin. But most of all, Ohira and Pittack credit their culturally diverse family—as well as their own preferences for variety and newness—with being big inspirations for Ted and Wally’s unique selection.

“I get bored doing the regular stuff and like to try different things,” Ohira says. “I remember people used to say that we have weird flavors. One of those was cotton candy, which isn’t that far out there. But now it’s way more fun and people are a lot more receptive.”

Ted and Wally’s Premium Homemade Ice Cream
1120 Jackson St.
402-341-5827
tedandwallys.com

Obsessed With the Dress

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Listen up, drama queens…A new TV reality show, Obsessed With the Dress, airs this summer and takes place right here in Omaha. The location for the show, Winning Crown Boutique in Rockbrook Village, is a dress shop that specializes in pageant wear.

This show will not be just another Say Yes to the Dress, show promoters say. Viewers can anticipate seeing the inner workings of the boutique and learn the background stories and successes of clients, as the show follows each girl through to the end of her pageant. But don’t fear—the show will undoubtedly serve up a heavy dose of drama, much like its bridal show predecessor.

Michele Strom, Mrs. Nebraska 2007 and owner of the boutique, got the idea for Winning Crown while preparing to compete in the Mrs. America pageant. When she couldn’t find a local venue to buy a dress, the entrepreneur-at-heart recognized a retail niche that needed filling and started a dress business out of her home in 2007. She moved the business to the Rockbrook location in early 2009.

Strom says she has no formal background in design. “I just have a unique eye for being creative and an ability to visualize what will look good [on a client]. I missed my calling at an early age, but it’s snowballed into this amazing opportunity to find something later in life that I am really passionate about.”20130404_bs_9891_web

The business has been such a success that Pie Town Productions in North Hollywood contacted Strom about her store being the location for Obsessed With the Dress, which airs nationally this summer on WE Networks.

“Our development team reached out to dozens of such shops across the country,” says Jennifer Davidson, an executive producer at Pie Town Productions. “But when we found Michele Strom and her team at The Winning Crown in Omaha, it was obvious that we had a show here.”

There are two types of drama that unfold on Obsessed With the Dress, Davidson says. “The girls and women shopping for gowns are relentlessly competitive and fascinating. But the staff gets into even more crazy drama. There is a villain at the shop, and he is gunning for the manager’s job. These office politics are off the hook!”

Strom’s staff includes Beau Olson, manager, who has a keen eye for fashion; Frances Nefsky, a graphic designer and creative mind; and Sarah Summers, an expert on all things pageant. “When it comes to pageants, we dress girls to win. I drill that into the minds of my staff and clients. I am not here to get [them] second place,” says Strom.

“When it comes to pageants, we dress girls to win. I drill that into the minds of my staff and clients. I am not here to get [them] second place.” – Michele Strom, owner of Winning Crown Boutique

“Because we have an hour per episode to tell our stories, we get to take a deeper look at the personalities behind the scenes at the shop, who are equally as fascinating as Michele’s customers,” adds Davidson. “Most of Michele’s salespeople are pageant winners themselves, [while] some are not and have their own agendas. Let’s just say that old pageant rivalries never die!”

Strom promises that the girls in the show are the real deal. “These girls come into [the store] for their dresses…They are all our clients and not manufactured [characters].”

Strom wants to bring awareness to not only what her store does, but also to debunk the negative pageant image. “There have been some shows in the past that have been negative, and I want people to see the positive side of these women. These girls are really smart and do a lot for our community. And it’s not just about the dress; it is about making my clients the best they can be.”

Winning Crown accepts drop-ins, but coaching and one-on-one time with Strom requires an appointment. Check out this unique business right here in Rockbrook Village, and tune into the Obsessed With the Dress premiere Aug. 2. Check wetv.com for show air-times.

UPDATE: The show now premieres July 27 at 8 p.m.

Olive Branch

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Olive Branch Integrated Outdoor Design, an Omaha landscape design company that specializes in lawns, pools, decks, patios, and gardens, has a “new tool in its shed,” so to speak. The company’s latest addition is a mobile unit that takes its design services on the road and right to customers’ front yards.

Owner Mike Brown, who founded the business in 2005, says, “The unit is a 22-foot 1964 Airstream Safari, equipped with a couch and small table for clients to sit and review plans and ideas. I tow it behind my truck, and it can be left on a job site. The technology on board is pretty simple—a drafting desk and an iPad or laptop with a wiFi hotspot.”

Each project Olive Branch takes on is tailored to the clients’ wishes and can be anything from a small upgrade for an existing area to a completely new space created from scratch, always with a “focus on artistry, cohesiveness, and quality outdoor living,” Brown adds. The mobile unit only enhances the company’s ability to serve clients’ design needs.

“Between client meetings and job site visits, I lose a lot of design time traveling,” Brown says. “The mobile design unit allows me to take advantage of downtime between meetings without traveling all the way back to the office. I can make design changes on-site while a project is happening, and clients will be able to get a more intimate glimpse into the design process.”

So far people have loved the “pop-up shop” on wheels concept, Brown says. “The hope is that the Airstream will become an icon for our company, and people will know they can stop in and visit us wherever they see us parked.”

Olive Branch
4415 Marcy St.
402-490-1436
olivebranchoutdoor.com

Deb’s-tique

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Located in Clocktower Village just east of Westroads Mall, Deb’s-tique offers an array of jewelry, antiques, home accents, clothing, and gifts at price points its customers appreciate. The store also carries a line of Made in the U.S.A. food items. Owner Deb Schneider describes Deb’s-tique as “accommodating” and “a place that gives customers a warm shopping experience.” Guests are offered coffee and tea and can shop for themselves or their loved ones in a relaxing, personal atmosphere.

Schneider is no stranger to owning a business, as she and her husband also run a construction company. Her inspiration for opening her store last September came from her family life and 20+ years as a mother. “Mothers need some time to themselves—to take time and let it be about you,” she says. The boutique provides a space for women to shop for unique gifts and caters to anyone from late teens to late 70s. Deb’s-tique also sees many husbands and fathers shopping for the women in their lives.

“We wanted a broad clientele,” Schneider says. When asked why she chose the location, she says, “It is a central point for many different people…a place anyone can come to.”

Deb’s-tique
617 N. 98th St.
402-934-3770
debstique.com

Mary Wadja

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Mary Wajda enjoys the hunt for fun fashions and accessories in unexpected places. Harbor Farm Chick Market, Voila! and House of J are some of her local go-to shops for whimsical, affordable pieces.

“I have an eclectic style,” says the 25-year veteran in advertising and media, now with Morningfire, Inc. “I’m fortunate that I work in an industry that allows me to express my personal style.”

“I love classic pieces—a great leather coat, a structured jacket, pearls—and mixing them with something feminine or unexpected—lace, sparkle, and anything girlie! And I love, love, love jeans! LA Idol is my favorite brand.”

“I have an eclectic style…I love classic pieces…And I love, love, love jeans!”

The mother of two teen girls, Wajda jokes, “I had my daughters late in life, so I try to dress so I look young and not like their grandma, yet age-appropriate. I don’t want to be a 51-year-old woman trying to look 25…I would take 45! And I refuse to wear old ladies’ shoes. I love my heels!”

A long-time cancer survivor, Wajda has always made caring for her health a priority. The former USVBA volleyball player (“My husband [Rich Wajda] and I met playing volleyball.”) used to be a dedicated runner, but has moved on to less-jarring cardio and weights. “I try to work out three to four times a week…I take Strike, strictly strength, spinning, and total conditioning classes at Lifetime Fitness whenever my schedule allows. Push-ups and sit-ups are a daily must, too,” she adds.

Wajda attributes her good health in part to drinking 100oz. of water daily, taking vitamins and supplements, and using skin products with retin A, sunscreen, and moisturizer. “I try to avoid the sun…and never sleep in my makeup.”

All your work has paid off, Mary Wajda. You look fabulous!

In Bloom

November 25, 2012 by

In Bloom is a local, family-owned flower shop and home décor/gift store that serves businesses and individuals year-round with floral arrangements and seasonal decorating, as well as Christmas tree decorating seminars.

Since opening in 2008, the Fremont business has been able to grow through word-of-mouth and advertising in the local area and surrounding cities. “Due to our increasing customer base and expanded inventories, we were required to move to a larger building,” says owner Jenefer Backhaus. “Two years ago, we moved our business to its current location. Moving has allowed us to keep a larger fresh flower inventory, and it has enabled us to expand our gift lines.”

In Bloom’s mainly female clientele come from Fremont and surrounding areas to the shop because the shop offers unique gifts that aren’t available elsewhere. “Our customers like to stop in often to see what new items we have because our inventory is always changing. [But] some people just stop in to see [our dog] Lily, In Bloom’s four-legged mascot,” says Backhaus, who has designed arrangements for Ted Turner and Willy Theisen.

Backhaus, who friends describe as creative, funny, and a little crazy, wanted to be a florist since she was about 10 years old. She went to Metro Tech for floral design right after high school and has been doing it ever since. Throughout her 27 years of being a designer, she has had the opportunity to work with many talented designers, picking up little bits of knowledge from each of them along the way. “This has allowed me to create a style all my own,” she adds.

What Backhaus has learned while running In Bloom is that there are always challenges. “Some days have big challenges, but most days have only a few small challenges. A business owner just needs to learn how to manage stress.” But the challenges and stress of business are definitely outweighed by the personal satisfaction of Backhaus’ job. “Being in the floral business makes you find yourself being a small part of a person or family’s very important day, whether it’s a new baby, a wedding, or even a funeral. I always feel very honored to take part.”

In Bloom
520 North Main St.
Fremont, Neb.
402-721-5700
inbloomoffremont.com

Custom Gems

October 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Imagine twin waterfalls, tall and narrow, magically frozen in freefall. The tumbling cascades are the clear, deep purple of winter shadows. When brilliant sunshine splashes across the rough surface, it assumes the glitter of sparkling gems. Both images, a double waterfall of frozen water or of gemstones, are equally wondrous. In this story, the metaphor is the reality—the waterfalls of our fantasy are cataracts of amethyst crystals.

Nearly eight feet tall, the mirrored pair are the split halves of a geode that has been supersized. Since we’re already in the mood for magic, we can time-travel back 130 million years to the end of the Mesozoic Era. The earth is in upheaval. The colossal continent of Pangaea breaks apart; volcanoes explode; the ocean floor crashes. Dinosaurs are disappearing, flowers (okay, angiosperms) are appearing. Every subset has its own turmoil. Lava flows hiss and erupt in bubbles of every size, some round and others shot high. As these bubbles cool, they harden into hollow shells. Mineral-rich slip glazes their interiors…and crystallizes, forming jeweled chambers unsignaled by their mud exteriors.

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Zip! Back to Omaha at the end of 2012. Our location is Custom Gems, a shop at the back of Frederick Square Shopping Center, off 84th Street just few blocks south of West Center Road. Its exterior may be commonplace, but inside you’ll find treasures to spark anyone’s imagination: delicate, one-of-a-kind necklaces, a tray of sapphires in every possible shade of blue (and some that aren’t blue!), carvings, and fossils. Kids of all ages scoop gleaming tumbled stones—8 for a dollar!—from an always-full bin. Practitioners of holistic therapies choose gems for their healing properties; DIY’ers finger strings of  beads; and rock hounds pick up tools, magazines, and even the rough stones that eluded them in the wild. You might visit Custom Gems just to see the beautiful amethyst waterfall.

While I’ve imagined tumbling water, others experience a sense of sacred space, like the gem-encrusted walls of some medieval churches. “They’re often called ‘amethyst cathedrals,’” explains Tim Kautsch, owner of Custom Gems. The height, twinning, and deep color of this pair enhance their allure and their value.

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Nearby is another natural crystal formation, a wedge of clear quartz with a cluster of the icy crystals at its centerpoint. (The word “crystal” comes from the early Greek word for frost. Snow is another crystalline structure.) Color is determined by mineral makeup, and each mineral has its own crystal shape. The clear rods clustered at the center are long hexagons ending in pyramidal points, looking just like ice.

Quartz is the most commonly used mineral in jewelry, but all minerals are, in their rough state, just rocks. Compare that tray of sparkling sapphires to their rugged counterpart, corundum. Fine jewelry calls for precious stones that are carefully cut and polished. Tim is a gemologist certified by the Gemological Institute of America. The degree gives him an edge in gem identification and grading. He began to work here while still in high school and became owner in 2009. Soon, his brother, Kevin, joined him. “It’s a good fit,” he says. “Kevin is great at work requiring precision, such as designing and repairing fine jewelry.”

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Custom Gems offers jewelry in a range of choices—you can buy an irresistible finished piece; select a setting, then choose just the right stone; or refit a piece of your own with new stones. Some customers have jewelry with sentimental value recast into a more personalized or modern style. The brothers value the importance of getting to know their patrons, many of them repeat customers. They especially enjoy creating a unique design that best expresses the customer’s intention and the stone’s special features. Kevin showed me one of his designs, an amethyst in a sterling silver pendant that echoed and emphasized the stone’s unusual shape.

Fossils are another form of rock. In the case of ammonites, the sea creatures’ buried remains were transformed by the pressure of sand and mud. Their typical spiral shell identifies them easily, but patterns on the shell show great variety. On display is an ammonite which has been split into two perfect halves. Its creamy beige, brown, and white coloring is subtly dabbed with touches of pale melon, mauve, and green, the delicacy of its coiled chambers preserved in stone.

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Occasionally, ammonite’s external shell wall is thick enough to be removed. Coupled with the shell’s pearl-like iridescence, it offers a prized jewel, ammolite, to the designer. “It’s my favorite stone,” says Kevin. He displays several, each a different color. Vibrant red/green or blue/violet hues dominate, but all colors are possible. Red and green flicker across one piece, the surface crazed with a pattern called “dragon skin.”

Besides jewelry and gems, the shop has accoutrements for home and office—tiny carved animals (the perfect pet, in my opinion), spheres, elegant serving plates of fossilized limestone, and Chinese jade work. For impact, Shona sculptures from Zimbabwe combine primitive and modernist style.

And for fun, there’s the rock bin. On a fall day, 9-year-old Natasha chose stones with the painstaking care of a collector. “This place is awesome!” she says. Christy Hamilton came in to replace a stone she’d lost from a pendant and couldn’t help smiling. “I’ve come here forever,” she says. “Tim does beautiful work. And whenever I had my grandchildren, I’d bring them here and let them choose a rock.”

Custom Gems is a wonderful source for shoppers, hobbyists, and daydreamers.

Custom Gems Inc.
8487 Frederick St.
402-397-9606
customgemsomaha.com

Silver of Oz

August 16, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Welcome to Silver of Oz, a handcrafted silver jewelry shop owned and operated by jewelry designer Levent Oz. (At the time of this interview, the store was located in Benson. It has since relocated to Montclair  on Center in West Omaha).

Oz’s personal story is dramatic and intricate, much like the antique silver cigarette cases, pill boxes, decorative rings, and dangling necklaces and earrings on display. Oz, who was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and lived in Vienna, Austria, before moving to the United States in 1998, has been influenced by a combination of Ottoman court jewelry and European modern style.

The son of a Turkish museum supervisor, who cared for the royal jewelry collection in the Topkapi Palace Museum, Oz had the chance to study the impressive court jewelry collection not accessible to most visitors. His awareness of and contact with classic silver pieces—such as Irish and Spanish swords designed with Nioello silver patterning and with Armenian black metal (which is tricky to work with and can shatter easily)—helped influence Oz’s silver-crafting style, fusing old and new, east and west.

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Oz’s own jewelry designs play with the surface of the metal. He creates unique pieces which embrace precious and semi-precious stones. His creations are made in a rectangular workshop at the back of the Maple Street store where he also teaches silversmith classes.

From a small burner in the studio space, Oz stirs the dark, thick Turkish coffee, Nuri Toplar; and just when the bubbles pop, he pours the sugary mixture into two demitasse cups with bright Turkish designs and tiny spoons.

After one sip, Oz excuses himself during a recent Saturday to greet customers Beth and Leon Wassenaar from Orange City, Iowa, who drove into Benson specifically to meet him. “Our friend owns this building, and we really like the wedding rings he made for them,” explains Beth.

An hour later, the Wassenaars left Silver of Oz with big smiles after buying a lovely pair of silver tassel earrings and a stunning silver and coral necklace Beth promptly wore out the door.

“The main point,” Oz said, smiling, “is not really selling. I love to interact with my customers.”

Not only does Oz enjoy talking with and getting to know his customers, he also likes to share a specialty from his homeland—coffee. With his mother still in Istanbul and a sister in London, Oz tries to visit Europe and the Middle East, but his teaching and designing schedule is hectic.

Doug Kuony took Oz’s beginner’s silversmith class a year ago when he found he had extra time on his hands after his father’s death. Oz teaches three levels of classes, two hours a week each in four-week sessions. Kuony, who lives close to the shop in Benson, said his experience with Oz “has been great.” He learned how to use the jeweler’s saw and the fusing torch, and now Kuony routinely makes his own silver designs.

For Oz, the journey to owning his own business has been a long one.

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While in college in Turkey studying English Literature, Oz worked at an antique store where he was introduced to the European art. After immigrating to Vienna in 1992, he learned how to produce the jewelry he designed since he no longer had the support of the workshops that finished his pieces.

In 1998, he decided to move to the United States and become a citizen. After landing in New Orleans where he worked as a waiter, Oz and his wife, Yeshim, a child, adolescent, and family therapist, were on their way to the west coast when they “got stuck in Omaha.” Oz ran a silver jewelry kiosk in the Oak View Mall for three months until he closed that operation.

Instead, he went to work at First Data in 2001. Oz ran a machine that inserted credit card statements into envelopes. He stayed in that position for 10 years, all the while knowing in his heart that he was an artist.

He finally got up the courage in 2008 to open his tiny shop in Benson. The following year, he moved Silver of Oz one block west into a much bigger space, adding a workshop and small art gallery. This April, Oz relocated his store once again to Montclair Shopping Center at 13013 West Center Road under the clock tower.

Perhaps the framed dollar bill he keeps superstitiously in an office drawer, signifying the first dollar he made in America, has brought him good fortune after all.

Silver of Oz
13013 W Center Rd
402-558-1307
www.silverofoz.com