Sure, custom jewelry merchant Gemvara is shaking up a storied industry today, but Founder and CEO Matt Lauzon is focused on the story they’re creating farther out. “We’re building a brand that will be here 100 years from now,” he says. “We’re thinking of our customers’ kids’ kids buying from us.”
Lauzon started the company with Jason Reuben while they were undergraduates at Babson in 2006. At that point, they were taking a business-to-business approach under the name Paragon Lake and were focused more on independent jewelers. What they wanted, however, was a closer connection to their customers, making the switch from direct-to-consumer jewelry sales in 2010 and becoming “Gemvara.”
Since, the company’s raised $51 million and grown to over 60 employees. Now pegged as one of the fastest growing companies in Massachusetts, there couldn’t be a more crucial time to have the company culture in check—a culture that’s defined by five core values:
- Create and amplify positive energy.
- Hold yourself and others accountable.
- Be creative and open-minded.
- Embrace every opportunity to learn and improve.
- Communicate honestly and proactively.
Not only are applicants screened for those values, but those values could soon be what performance reviews are entirely based off of, according to Lauzon, who evaluates employees on more than just results. As a company who’s “changing the rules of e-commerce,” Lauzon admits those working for the company need to be willing to break rules and take risks. “If you do everything the standard way, you’re going to get standard results.”
To ensure those joining the team will take risks and produce results, there’s one key ingredient Lauzon vets for: passion. “I don’t care if it’s about leopards or hopscotch,” he says. “I just want them to be passionate about something.”
Each applicant hired at Gemvara then goes through an onboarding program, which Lauzon claims every employee will start to repeatedly go through, as well, “to make sure everyone’s on the same page.” Yet, for now, every Monday at 1:30 p.m., the Boston team is Skyping in Gemvara’s New York office for their weekly meeting. Every executive gives a two-minute pitch update, and the team shares how many new loyal customers they’ve welcomed to the platform.
At these meetings, upfront and honest communication is key, which is why Lauzon also addresses any questions in front of the group that he finds in the kitchen mailbox. Employees are encouraged to leave any and all questions in the box, whether they be about results or communication, largely because, to Lauzon, “it fosters this level of transparency.”
And that transparency has helped create a stronger team—a team that genuinely enjoys spending time with each other. Every Thursday night, Gemvara hosts a general employee meeting, called “GEM,” filled with drinks and mingling. “When we get members together, good things happen,” Lauzon says, talking about the nights employees have started scribbling notes on the IDEA paint-coated walls.
Over the years, Boston has proved to be a supportive home for Gemvara. When starting any business, Lauzon claims you “need a community that has access to capital, people you can recruit and a support system.” The city has proven to have all three, leading Lauzon to say, “I think Boston is an awesome place to build a company.”
As they continue to grow, however, Gemvara will need to focus on two key components: building long-term relationships, and quality and craftsmanship. “I hope we never lose our authenticity,” Lauzon says. “That’s the overarching theme of everything.”
For a peek inside Gemvara’s offices, check out the photos below.