Trading Legal Briefs for Beaded BraceletsBy: Holly Cline
Cindy Hyman 01L transformed her hobby into a a successful business venture
When Cindy L. Joffe Hyman 01L told her mentor that she was leaving Kilpatrick Stockton to pursue her hobby, her mentor responded “Are you crazy?” That was in 2002. Today, Hyman’s hobby designing jewelry is a lucrative career, and she’s never looked back.
Hyman always wanted to be a lawyer. After graduation, she thrived as a trademark attorney, but was forced to go on medical leave because of mold exposure. She and her husband moved in with her parents as she recovered.
To pass the time, Hyman and her mother, Avril Joffe, made jewelry. When she returned to work, Hyman’s clients and colleagues wanted to buy the pieces she wore. Soon, she was selling items in the firm’s bathroom. Her hobby became a business.
“Since our pieces were selling so well at work, my friend encouraged us to host a trunk show. We ended up doing about $8,000 in sales,” Hyman, now a mother of two, says. “After that, I believed that we could do this full time.”
Joffe, also an attorney, wasn’t initially sold on the idea. She wanted Hyman to continue her career as a lawyer, but her daughter was very convincing.
“As a mother, you want the best for your child,” Joffe says. “I worried about us working together, competing for ideas; but we learned how to respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We work brilliantly together, and it’s fabulous sharing this experience.”
From their Atlanta studio, the two create unique handcrafted jewelry using diamonds, semi-precious gemstones, antiqued sterling silver, hammered gold vermeil and rare beads. With a staff of 10, they spend their day designing pieces and shipping orders.
“We draw inspiration for our jewelry in the details of all things beautiful and unique — everything from nature, to ancient and vintage jewelry, to unusual fabrics,” Hyman says.
The distinct look of avindy (a combination of Avril and Cindy) has captured the attention of the media, jewelry showrooms and celebrities. Their big break came when the exclusive jewelry showroom, Fragments, offered avindy representation. In the first month, Fragments placed their work in Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s Japan and on Britney Spears. Success came quickly.
“We never had the time to contemplate the success,” Joffe recalls. “The timing of our launch was perfect, and everything happened before we could say, ‘Is this really happening?’ We’ve been fortunate.”
Hyman credits her legal background with helping the business side of avindy.
“My knowledge of trademark and copyright law helped me build and protect our design and brand from day one,” she says. “Also, people are less likely to infringe upon your designs if they know you’re a lawyer.”
Last August, Hyman and Joffe launched avindy on QVC. They describe the experience as nerve-wracking, but exciting. Their next appearance was slated for June 8.
“We just fell into this and got lucky,” Hyman says. “I advise anyone considering a career change to think outside of the box. Don’t be scared to take a leap of faith and see where that takes you.”
Neither Hyman nor her mom has any regrets about starting their business. They agree that avindy is a team effort, and one they are proud of doing together.
The avindy line is in more than 400 stores and catalogs worldwide and can be purchased from www.avindy.com.
Cline is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.