Business gold comes from cleaning room
January Thomas is non-stop energy as she runs her business, raises a family and enjoys all Grosse Pointe has to offer.
January 13, 2011January Thomas took cleaning her room to a whole new level.
As she planned her wedding and the move out of her childhood home in St. Clair Shores in 2008, Thomas stumbled on something many people have - gold jewelry tucked away.
"There were some gold chains and things that were so out of style they'll never come back," Thomas, said. Her soon-to-be husband, Charles, is the grandson of the late Edmund T. Ahee, founder of the longtime Grosse Pointe Woods business with his wife, Bettejean.
The family connection was a natural for seeing if the gold was worth getting rid of.
The gold was weighed and appraised and Thomas was surprised to find it was valued several hundred dollars.
At the time, Thomas worked for ADP, a company that provides payroll services, benefit and human resource management for other companies.
"I was working with a lot of small businesses and I thought I would like to start a business one day," Thomas said. "Selling that gold led to a couple ideas. One thing led to another."
She founded the company My Gold Party in 2008 soon after she married Charles, an attorney at Bodman LLP and Grosse Pointe North graduate.
At the time, they lived in Royal Oak, moving to the City of Grosse Pointe last year.
"Shortly after I started the business, the media got a hold of it," Thomas said. "The Internet has helped with the success. Ten years ago it may not have taken off like it has."
Thomas said she first started by writing a book about hosting parties, where friends would gather at a host's house and My Gold Party representatives would test and weigh gold, cutting a check to the sellers while they told stories about their jewelry.
Thomas and My Gold Party have been featured on Good Morning America, CNBC, Time magazine, Fortune, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
"The story was on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams," Thomas said. "The price of gold was on the rise while the economy was getting worse. The media couldn't get enough stories about gold at the time."
Thomas consults representatives and gets them set up to run their business. It isn't a franchise based business, but Thomas' formula has been successful for representatives in 31 states.
Along with her Grosse Pointe location, Thomas has representatives in Howell and Grand Rapids. She also has reps in Hawaii and Alaska, where the woman there is only available during the non-fishing times of the year.
The success of her business relies on those around her, Thomas said.
"My mom works with me and my aunt helps with my 18-month-old son," Thomas said. "Charles has been very supportive and helped in so many ways."
Her duties to the business have changed slightly as she prepares to have their second child.
"It's been a great year with the business and with my family," she said. "I love living here. It's beautiful. I really appreciate that Grosse Pointe has been lived in. There isn't all the new construction. It's filled with beautiful homes and trees and I missed the water a little bit when I lived in Royal Oak."
Thomas said they enjoy the parks and walking to the restaurants on The Hill for dinner.
"The shopping and the restaurants make Grosse Pointe wonderful," she said.
All of the changes have kept Thomas busy. An author, founder of a business, a wife and a mother still finds time to enjoy everything around her.
"I've been lucky to have the support I have. I'm happy to be near my parents and in-laws and I do like to rest sometimes," she said with a laugh.
- Joe Warner