Chapter 2. The first money
The jewelry store that Dad opened barely survived. Often the money was not even enough to cover the rent. Dad would make an effort to give me a pocket money of 100 NIS ($28) a week and I had to somehow get by with that money.
The money was supposed to be enough for trips to Be'er Sheva and back to Ashkelon, food for the whole week, and trips from dormitories to the university. A trip to Ashkelon cost $5 and food expenses amounted to about $3-$5 per day. Not enough to go wild.
I realized that I must help myself, that I must do something, otherwise I will lose all the pleasures that life had to offer. For the first time in my life I found myself far from my parents - I wanted to afford to taste many kinds of delicious food, buy what my soul wanted, invite girls to restaurants. All this required money, but with a budget of $28 per week I could not afford even a portion of falafel on the street. (street food).
The only thing I knew how to do at 16 - was to make relatively beautiful jewelry. It is true that the jewelry not at the level of professionals, but I could solder one part to another. To make jewelry you need gold. But I had no gold.
So what to do? Our store had a small collection of tools. That means I could fix jewelry - put torn necklaces back together, reduce and enlarge rings, fix earrings and more.
My parents' apartment in Ashkelon had a balcony, where my mother hung laundry. The balcony was so small that there was barely room for one person. It was there that I decided to move a jewelry table from the store, a minimal set of tools and set up a tiny workshop.
Key 2 to Success
Start with what you have. To get started you do not need a brilliant business idea, no great experience and no start-up capital. Each of us always has something they can start with.
Jewelry store owners know each other. This is how it is practiced in the gold industry. Dad knew all the jewelry store owners. He also knew everyone else .
I went through all the jewelry stores in Ashkelon, introduced myself as the son of Meir Shavit and offered them to make jewelry repairs - I will collect all the repairs once a week, on Friday morning and return repairs on Sunday morning.
It suited them because the prices I charged were not high, the quality of the repairs was good and I delivered the work on time.
For the whole week I studied in Be'er Sheva and in the weekend I would return to Ashkelon. My last lecture would end on Thursday at 8 p.m. I ran to the last bus and rode home. At 10 p.m. I would arrive in Ashkelon and on Friday morning - I would rush to the stores to collect orders for repairs.
I fixed everything - from twisted coins to torn chains. I worked Fridays and Saturdays non-stop, often without sleep and rest - there were a lot of orders. On Sunday morning I handed out the ready orders and hurried to the university. I would get on the 11 a.m. bus and by one o'clock in the afternoon I was already sitting in a lecture.
For regular repairs they would pay me 10-15 shekels (about 3$-5$), for complex work - 20 and even 50 shekels. One weekend I would make NIS 500-700. For a 16-year-old student it was a fortune. The money was enough for me for trips, for living, for studies and for parties with girls :)
My workshop in Ashkelon. In white bags - orders.
So two years passed. Studies, parties, repairs, studies, parties, repairs, studies, parties, repairs ... Every week, with black fingers from polishing and with pockets full of money I would go back to the dorm.
Of course, I could not save money for the future - everything I made was wasted on whatever my soul desired. But I earned myself something more important than money - my name. My name preceded me with jewelry store owners. I could go into any jewelry store and within minutes summarize terms and start getting orders.
Key 3 to Success
A good reputation is worth a lot. When you have a good reputation and you are known in all the jewelry stores in the city, your reputation starts working for you.
During each of my visits to Ashkelon, the number of orders increased. When I had just opened the workshop I had 15-20 bags with orders. Now the number had reached 100-120 units!
What a nightmare! I had to fix all the orders in one weekend - you can't make people wait.
I started to get very tired. Sometimes I had to solder the same ring several times because the eyes just did not see well from the exhaustion.
Fatigue accumulated. I did not have time to make all the repairs. Fatigue developed into neurosis. And one day I just broke down: a whole weekend I messed with just one ring, I did not close my eyes at night and this damned ring melted so that it could no longer be repaired ...
I got upset and promised myself not to work with my hands anymore.
Key 4 to Success
Working with the hands - This is hard work with very little chance of success. You are physically limited, limited in time - you only have two hands and 24 hours a day. If you are not a world-renowned surgeon, famous musician or a well-known chef - you will not see big money.
I wrote on the wall in huge letters "Enough of me!"
And all nervous and exhausted, I went to deliver orders. I had to pay the store for the broken ring - I had worked in vain for a month.
I notified all store owners that I stopped accepting orders. Of course, they were very disappointed, because they got used to working with me - fast, efficient, inexpensive, always available. But I made a final decision and did not intend to return to the jewelry workshop.