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Ganado-based jewelry company selected for Emmys swag bags

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Sept. 23, 2011 at 4:23 a.m.

Kelly Bures, co-owner of Ganado-based Athena Accessories, loads gift cards into boxes. Athena Accessories was one of 30 small businesses chosen to donate items for swag bags at the 32nd annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, which takes place on Monday.

It isn't every day a small-town company gets its products into the hands of big-name celebrities, but it happens from time to time.

Ganado-based Athena Accessories is living proof.

The jewelry company was one of 30 small businesses selected by Off The Wall Gifts to contribute items to swag bags for the 32nd annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

At first, the news sounded too good to be true, said Kelly Bures, one of the company's four owners.

She got the notification e-mail Sept. 17 but didn't read it until Monday. Bures said she first thought it was a scam, especially because the awards were slated for the following Monday.

"I told my husband there was no way they'd prepare for something like that with such short notice," she said. "But I did my research and found out it was real."

From there, work kicked in to high gear. Athena's owners had just days to form a plan and send the products off.

The company, which specializes in freshwater cultured pearls, chose to include gift cards for free pearl earrings, valued at $16. That was 800 pairs of them, one for every Emmys guest.

"All of our jewelry is handmade to order," she said, explaining there wasn't the time or manpower to create 800 pairs of earrings in time. "So we're doing gift certificates."

They packaged them in Chinese take-out boxes, which hearken back to two company owners who live in China and create the jewelry there. They shipped them out Thursday.

Athena will not be reimbursed for the many earrings, but Bures said it isn't a financial hardship. Instead, it's a chance to get the name out there.

"This is kind of the best advertising we could ever get," she said. "And we're spending less than what we would spend to get an ad in a major magazine."

The swag bags' goal is not only to present guests with nice gifts, but to generate an "Oprah effect," where publicity offers emerging companies a boost in business and time in the limelight, said Val Wilson, who co-owns Off The Wall with her husband, Mike.

"We're thrilled to be in a position to do that," she said, explaining products will end up in the hands of the "elite of television," such as Katie Couric and Brian Williams.

It was a researcher with the New Hampshire-based Off The Wall Gifts who initially brought Athena's Accessories up for consideration, she said. Wilson then put herself in the guests' shoes to determine how they might feel looking at the various companies' websites, and made her selections.

Bures said she's glad her company landed on the radar, especially since she didn't even go out for the bid. Athena's Accessories launched in May and hasn't advertised much, she said, but this might be the push that really gets the ball rolling.

"This is a huge opportunity," she said. "I still can't believe it."

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