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June 14, 1996 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-06-14

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drey Stanton, do not run a busi-
ness together but probably could:
Tracy believes her once dormant
talents come from her father, a
motivational speaker, and her
mother, who is "great at promo-
Clients seem to like working
with a couple, the Katzes say.
"They get two for the price of
one," Michael quips. "One of us
will always be there if a prospec-
tive buyer is looking at a house."

Michael's laptop computer, a
portable file of land data, listings,
buyers and sellers, and all his oth-
er trade tools, enables him to
snare clients any time, any place.
Once, he signed somebody at Vic's
If Michael's talent is homing in
on a prospective house seller or
buyer, dazzling them with words
that tumble out at a breakneck
pace, Tracy's wide smile puts peo-
ple at ease immediately. She does

forming bits of antique
watches, lockets, beads, but-
tons and chains into jewel-
ry that has earned them a
national reputation, Ronna
Schmerin glances at her sis-
ter, Robin Wayne.
"Where'd you get that
shirt?" she asks casually.
"Banana Republic," Robin
answers, without missing a
The two continue to ex-
plain the success of Two Sis-
ters, a primarily wholesale
venture they launched 10
years ago and which has
placed them in a niche best
described as exclusive. Their
jewelry has been featured
in Harper's Bazaar and Elle
magazines and sold at Saks
Fifth Avenue and Jacob-
Despite their "momming"
responsibilities, these two
have been able to keep the
business strong, precisely
because of their closeness.
Otherwise, they figure,
they'd go the way of count-
less business partners who
close up shop at the first
sign of adversity.
"There is no,
never speak
Opposite page:
to you again.' That's not an op-
Michael and Tracy Katz:
tion. No matter how mad we get,
Nesting experts.
there's always a tomorrow," Ron-
na says.
Yes, they fight — loudly and
vigorously, as they always have.
This page:
But any hostility is immediately
Above: Debby and Paul Feinberg: diffused when one has to ask the
Double vision.
other to pass a pearl or for an
opinion about a new configura-
tion. If one of them doesn't like
Left: Robin Wayne and Ronna
the other's design, she says so.
Schmerin: A sisterly link.
Sometimes, Robin will finish
something Ronna started and
vice versa.
They even eat dinner at each
a lot of follow-up, like sending
out letters and making up other's houses if one is too busy to
brochures at a moment's notice go grocery shopping.
"We decided our kids would
for clients.
"It's a major decision for peo- grow up like brothers and sisters,
ple to buy and sell (their homes). like we did," Ronna says. Her chil-
You have to be a good listener dren are Amanda, 3 1/2, and Zoe,
and understand it's an emo- 6 months. Robin's are daughter
Spencer, 5 1/2, and Jake, 2 1/2.
tional thing," Tracy says.
"We spend a sickening amount
She figures she'll take a
month off after the birth of their of time together," Ronna snorts.
Fortunately, their husbands,
child, but she can work at home
anyway, or walk across the podiatrist Mitchell Wayne and
builder David Schmerin, get along
street to the office.
"I feel like I've known too.
Long before they incorporat-
Michael my whole life. That's
what it's about: Building some- ed as a business, the Perlman sis-
ters dabbled in creative pursuits,
thing together," Tracy says.
Says Michael: "You know among them jewelry making.
what's nice? I can grab my wife Ronna studied weaving at Cran-
any time of the day and give her brook while Robin has a general
art background.
a big kiss."
When people began to offer
money for their jewelry, they re-
alized they had something. But
a name for their compa-
ny was harder than closing .5mm
In the midst of an earnest dis- loops with needle-nose pliers.
cussion of their work — trans- Ronna remembers sitting in an

Ann Arbor restaurant rejecting
name after name.
Finally, one of the boutiques
that carried their jewelry sug-
gested the obvious. Their father,
Stuart Perlman, developed Two
Sisters' first logo.
Before they settled into mar-
riage and motherhood, Robin, 34,
and Ronna, 31, often jetted to
New York, Chicago and Los An-
geles, looking for buyers and new
venues for their wares.
Nowadays, the sisters duck
into their Birmingham studio-
showroom two or three days a
week unless they're gearing up
for a trunk show at Roz & Sherm,
now their exclusive vendor. Then
they toil for three-month stretch-
es making up to 300 pieces ofjew-
elry, most of which is snapped up
in two days. The floor of their
workplace is strewn with new
pieces, loose threads, a random
bead or two. The room's center-
piece, a large oak table, is covered
entirely with the materials of
their craft.
While Two Sisters jewelry is
distinctive, Robin and Ronna say
their tastes are really very dif-
ferent: One favors a more ro-
mantic genre, while the other
likes art deco. The customer won't
notice because their styles have
merged in a symbiosis.
"We're in the same direction,
but we're coming from two dif-
ferent spots," Robin says.


Alan and Jonathan Doi Ilan see
each other all day long, and then
Theirs is a business with few
lulls — tending to the deceased
and to bereaved survivors — and
no off hours.
Far from the stereotypical un-
dertakers who nod solemnly, the
father and son are direct, earthy
and excited about what they do.
Without each other, they might
not be quite as successful, they
Alan and Jonathan say they to-
tally trust each other to ensure
nothing is left to chance. They
can't afford to do otherwise; their
customers rely on them to do
everything from picking up a
death certificate to finding a rab-
bi to ordering a gravestone.
"We know what has to be
done," Jonathan says.
"We share everything," Alan 0)
A drawer full of letters thank-
ing the Dorfmans for their care
and compassion is testim'ony to LU
their success.
"We always had a close fami-
ly," Alan Dorfman says.
"Jonathan's got compassion. This 41
is the way we raised our kids." His

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