How Katrina Bore a Business for Becky

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Jerry and Becky Eizen; Becky owns Jazzy Promotional Products

 

Southfield mom of three realizes long-held dream despite nature’s wrath.

For natives of New Orleans, it’s not uncommon to reference life in terms of “before” and “after,” given the changes wrought upon that beleaguered city after Hurricane Katrina. For those with family affected by the storm, it’s what Southfield resident Becky Eizen, founder of Jazzy Promotional Products, calls “Katrina’s tertiary effect.”

Eizen, 45, raised in New Orleans but long-since settled in Metro Detroit with husband Jerry and their three boys, endured a frantic three-day search, post-storm, to locate her mother, Yetta. When Eizen and her mom finally connected, Eizen also learned the family home had been destroyed; she cajoled Yetta to move north and live with her and her family.

For years, Eizen gave thought to various types of home-based opportunities she could develop. But between her responsibilities as a recruiter for a major department store and the struggle to secure seed money, entrepreneurship seemed a long way off — until Yetta, now safely landlocked in Southfield, provided funding to get the business off the ground.

Eizen came up with the idea for what she would eventually name Jazzy through a friend in the field: “I wanted whatever business we got into to be a fun one, and I wanted to have a good time doing it,” she says. “When people order promotional products, it’s not usually for a sad occasion — it’s usually for something fun.”

The new entrepreneur quickly was customizing clothing, mugs, pens and other sundries for local and nationwide businesses, and her product list grew more varied as she increased her client base. However, only a few months into her venture, Eizen was forced to endure another adjustment to her life: her mother’s untimely death.

Yetta’s passing prompted Eizen to dub the company Jazzy Promotional Products, “… in true New Orleans fashion,” she says. “The name Jazzy is bittersweet for me; we named it as a tribute in honor of my mother.”

Eizen, who runs the company from home with help from husband Jerry, a professional firefighter, has an MBA from Georgia State University and years of experience working in retail. She says she understands that competition from the Internet and brick-and-mortar stores is fierce and compensates with a personality that lends itself well to client services.

“One of our biggest challenges nowadays is that people are ordering online,” she explains. “Companies are shipping out low-quality products and people don’t know until it’s too late. We stand behind all of our products and work closely with our clients to ensure that each order is tailor-made to suit their needs. The customer is always right.”

Being part of the community, pounding the pavement and promoting the local economy are all mantras Eizen says she espouses in an effort to remain competitive. “We try very, very hard to work with vendors who are in Michigan. The vast majority of our apparel comes from vendors who are in-state.”

Alan Levenson, a client of Eizen’s and partner at Farmington Hills accounting firm Woronoff, Hyman, Levenson & Sweet, met Eizen through a local business collective: “It was a pleasure working with them,” he says. “Becky is really hands-on, and Jerry helped us design a great logo. They were flexible with our schedule during tax season, which was key.”

Since those first days in 2005, Eizen says she’s both pleased with her growth and realistic about her future. “Sure, the economy has affected us, because the first thing that gets slashed in a poor economy is the marketing budget.

“But our client base is constant and continues to grow. People know that we offer a lasting and tangible form of marketing that is more cost-effective and far outlives a radio ad.

Of course, we’d love more business,” she laughs.

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