Entrepreneurship program features four local artists as guests


Buffalo State alumnus and JPHii DESIGN founder, John Harris, spoke to students from the program on Nov. 3. Harris’s business is located in Syracuse, NY

Olivia Smith, Associate News Editor

On Nov. 3, SUNY Buffalo State held the certificate program for students who participated in a five-week session for Entrepreneurship in the Arts.

Students participated in Thursday evening workshops at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, which included strategic planning, financial, trademark and marketing information.

The certificate program featured four artists from the area, who have made a career in art in their own ways.

Executive designer and founder of JPHii DESIGN, and Buffalo State alum, John Harris, started as a steampunk jeweler. Harris later decided to create jewelry with a more organic approach, and now focuses on building jewelry with character.

Located in Syracuse, JPHii DESIGN started in 2012 and has since then been featured in several magazines including Dark Beauty, Gorgeous Freaks, Auxiliary, Strange Beauty and Surreal.

Upon moving his business to Syracuse, Harris knew he had to get his name out in the community, and become “more than just a guy from Buffalo.”

He shared a few of his unique ways that got him started in the business, and saved some money.

Harris bought his jewelry-making equipment from dentists as a way to make metals from the molds.

“You have to think outside of the box,” Harris said.

He then started doing interviews on radio shows and became involved in runway shows.

Harris always wears his jewelry, which can always create conversation.

“You want to have eye-catching pieces,” Harris said.

He talked about the importance of photography to capture one’s work, as well as the importance of consistent packaging.

“From business cards, to the website to packaging, that’s how the customer remembers you,” Harris said.

Another graduate of Buffalo State, Jim Hoffmeister, spoke to students on his experiences in making custom jewelry.

His wife opened a jewelry studio in the Tri-Main Center, 2495 Main St. in Buffalo, called Persiagray Jewelry Design in 1998. The two specialize in high karat jewelry.

CEO of Lansky Sharpeners, Christopher Fire, also spoke at the event. Fire started as a freelance graphic designer, marketing coordinator, and then marketing manager before being promoted to CEO in 2012.

Fire worked to change the marketing aspect of Lansky Sharpeners. People would tell him they loved Lansky, but didn’t think it was still around. Fire changed that, and made the name known again.

“Marketing is storytelling, and it’s so important, because that’s how you present yourself,” Fire said.

Fire gives a lot of credit to his acting background. He started acting at the Ghostlight Theatre Company in Tonawanda, and later became the technical director.

This background gave him the experience to put himself out there in front of people.

“Don’t be afraid of experiences,” Fire said, because that’s what gotten him to his position today.

President of Custom Recording Service, Inc., Mark Morette, spoke on his work in the music business, including copyright law and recording techniques.

Morette has worked with 10,000 Maniacs, the Goo Goo Dolls, Rick James and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to name a few.

He spends 30 weeks annually traveling around the world to record for different artists.

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