Clutch Purveyor and Jewelry Creator
Perhaps having the Dow take a major dive on your first day as a stockbroker is a bad omen. In hindsight, Glenn Camche, A.B. ’80, was clearly entering the wrong profession. “I’m a visual, creative person,” says the one-time political science major, “and the market is much more abstract.” Nonetheless, he gave it his best shot for a year.
Fortunately for Camche, that was the same year his mother became an entrepreneur. In 1981, she launched Sondra Roberts, a New York City-based manufacturer of high-end handbags. “Fashion was different then,” says Camche. “Women weren’t as focused on status brands. You also didn’t have the competition from the international brands that you have today.”
Success came rapidly for the new company, and Camche soon fled the stock market to work with his mother. “There were no computers or cell phones in those days,” he recalls. “I walked to all the department stores, showed samples to buyers, and left with orders. My brother, Robert, joined us four and a half years later.”
Since their mother’s death in 2002, the brothers have split the responsibilities of running the company. Glenn, as president, oversees the creative end (advertising and marketing); Robert oversees the back end (warehousing and logistics, finance and accounting); they both handle sales.
The duo has been busy expanding the company’s product lines. Manufacturing was moved overseas 12 years ago to increase volume while keeping costs down. A non-leather line, called SR Squared, has generated large sales at much lower price points, and an evening bag line has met with great success. The company recently introduced footwear because so many of its handbags were being sold in specialty shoe stores.
Camche’s wife, Jamie, A.B. ’81, is also a fashion entrepreneur; her JL Rocks jewelry is sold at retail stores and online. “She talks with me about trends she sees. She has very good taste,” says Glenn, who was recently invited to join UM’s President’s Council. Together the Camches are also grooming a second generation of ’Canes: Son Jon, 18, is a freshman pursuing business, and daughter Elizabeth, 15, may be the next to follow.
—Robert S. Benchley