As with many successful entrepreneurial endeavors,
Your Registry was born of personal experience. "[My husband
and I] were married on October 1997," explains Elsa Pinto-Melikian,
who founded the company the following year with her husband, Armen.
"In the course of preparing for the wedding, I realized there
was a void with regard to the registry process."
What Pinto-Melikian had discovered
was that only larger retailers, such as Macy's or Williams-Sonoma,
offered bridal gift registries. "Nothing could offer things
I really wanted, funny things like sod for my new back yard,"
she says. While honeymooning in London, Pinto-Melikian says, a light
bulb went off in her head and Your Registry was conceived. "I
knew exactly how I was going to do it," she recalls.
The concept is deceptively simple. Engaged couples
in English-speaking countries around the world provide their confidential
guests lists to Your Registry, along with the items or services
they want and where they can be purchased. The registry then sends
announcements to everyone on the wedding guest list. "People
register for anything they want, at any store, anywhere," says
Pinto-Melikian, adding that the service costs in the neighborhood
of 80 cents per invitation.
presence is a vital part of Your Registry, but not the whole of
it. "We don't consider ourselves a dot-com company," explains
Pinto-Melikian. "We consider ourselves a traditional service
company that provides complete Internet service to our clients."
This is especially important because not all wedding guests have
access to computers.
The second segment of the business, launched earlier
this year, is creating and managing bridal gift registries for smaller
merchants, who otherwise could not afford them. Merchants who sign
up for the program not only acquire professional sales and tracking
system, they also appear on the company's website, giving them a
competitive edge online.
For the first several months, Pinto-Melikian ran
the business from home while balancing a full-time career as a manufacturer's
representative. Today, she continues in medical sales and directs
the new company's marketing and Internet efforts. Her husband manages
the registry's daily operations at the customer service center in
Sacramento. The goal, she says, is to build a midsize family business.
"It is not my interest to have my company to
go public in two or three years, sell it and move on," explains
Pinto-Melikian, who recently turned down a generous offer for venture
capital. "My husband and I want a balanced family life and
we want the kind of business that will provide that for us."
A privately owned Internet business, she points out, does just that.
"You can work anywhere you want," she says. "You
can make choices about your life." For the Melikians, those
choices include starting a family and being available to raise them.
"My husband and I will not put our children in day care,"
While Your Registry is still in the red, Pinto-Melikian
expects it to show a profit by the end of this year—and that
it will eventually serve some 10,000 brides annually and more than
5,000 merchants nationwide.
"We have taken some serious calculated risks
in this business," says Pinto-Melikian, looking back. "But
the payoff is a life we want."
© 2000 - Sacramento Magazine Corporation