Another TCU entrepreneur:
Jim Ryffel 81 (MBA '84; RM '98)
Also read: John
"Bo" Norris '80, Johnny '73 and Diane Rowand
Simons '66, Celia Smith McGrath '83 andKevin
Katy Briscoe '82
Designer Houston, Texas
'82 doesn't want you to see her jewelry first, but rather the women wearing
pieces fetch from $1,000 to $50,000 from clients hailing from New York
"A good piece
of jewelry should make a woman's soul soar," said Briscoe, who lives in
Houston with her 6-year-old son, Dillon. "It's a form of self-expression;
when a woman walks into a room, you should see her first and the jewelry
her own collection at a breast cancer benefit in 1997, but her jewelry
days started at TCU, when she worked for a local jeweler while taking
night classes. With an eye for antiqued- highlighted gold, Briscoe uses
colorful stones (like ice-blue aquamarines), bright gems and even old
is a fan of religious imagery found on many antique coins. (Briscoe, at
right, sports a faceted aquamarine beaded necklace with trillion-cut aquamarine
and blue Tahitian pearl drop; 18-carat gold tourmaline and carved aquamarine
earrings; and an 18K column and Laura bracelets.)
sell jewelry just to sell it," she said. "I look for the right design
for a person; when the jewelry is right, it raises the countenance of
"Bo" Norris '80
Borrealis Yurts Gray, Maine
than a decade into the yurt business, John "Bo" Norris is still scratching
his head wondering how he got into it.
centuries ago by Mongolian nomads, are circular tents made of felt or
skins and, unlike tents, marked by six-foot vertical walls.
is setting apart the durable, self-contained dwellings made by Norris
and his partner, Peter Wattler, are leak-proof skylights and even an opening
for a wood-burning stove.
yurt manufacturer in the United States, Norris and company build yurts
ranging from 12-20 feet wide and costing as much as $6,000. He sold 70
yurts last year, with sales doubling every year.
range from back-to-the-land, finding-pennies-in-the-couch naturalists
to wealthy yuppies who just happen to own an island off the coast of Maine,"
said Norris, who with his wife Kathy lives in Gray, Maine, with their
three children, Ben, Will and Lily. (The latter they adopted just last
year from Cambodia.)
"I feel like
I'm doing something good É giving people the option of living off the
land in a remote location without harming the environment around them."
'73 and Diane Rowand Simons '66
Pocket Theatre, Fort Worth
'73 and Diane Rowand Simons '66 may not be your idea of entrepreneurs,
but for 23 years the owners and operators of Fort Worth's Hip Pocket Theatre
have created a brand of theatre hard to find anywhere else.
Hip Pocket's plays fall around the shores of Lake Worth, where Johnny
grew up and still lives.
playhouse's quirky style has shown through productions as diverse as H.G.
Wells' War of the Worlds, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the
Apes and Federico Garcia Lorca's The Butterfly's Evil Spell.
the Hip Pocket has produced more than 175 productions, including 90 world
Diane, married for 30 years, met at TCU and then worked together for years
at Casa Maana before starting their own theater in 1977. Johnny directs
and writes while Diane serves as house producer and costume designer.
two grown daughters, Lake and Lorca, who also sometimes perform or direct
thrust-stage amphitheatre looks like its general contracter worked without
a tape measure. The stage balcony is perched in a tree. And its sound
and light booth might have been purchased at a flea market. All the better
considering the outcome.
beginning, we were very cautious about trying to expand rapidly or change,
alter too many things," Johnny said. "It's very important for the Hip
Pocket to retain its texture, a rough-hewn quality I feel comfortable
with. I like to term my theater 'illegitimate com-munity the-a-ter.' .
. . I want to steer clear of le-git-i-mate theater."
Smith McGrath '83
Olympia Gourmet Treats Strongsville, Ohio
Company wanted chocolate paintbrushes. Air Touch put in an order for chocolate
cell phones. And investment firm KeyCorp needed, yes, chocolate keys.
Smith McGrath '83 and her husband Bob -- owner of Olympia Gourmet Treats
in Strongsville, Ohio -- it's all in a day's work.
clients mark only half of their efforts. In a cozy shop situated on the
busiest street of the affluent Cleveland-area community, the McGraths
serve up fudge, hard ice creams, specialty coffees and juices, even baklava
and other pastries. Though sales have doubled in the last three years,
things weren't always sweet for the couple.
first purchased the company, it's location drew little traffic and corporate
clients were nil. And Celia was in her sixth year as a vice president
measuring risk for a bank holding company.
when she took a risk of her own, working on the side to land a few corporate
accounts for her husband's business.
to myself," Celia said, "if it's that easy, or if I'm that lucky, why
am I sitting behind a desk monitoring risk for others?"
risk that comes with a seasonal business continues to be there, Celia
adds, but the excitement is the treat she savors most. "I get a rush landing
that next corporate account and finding ways to make Olympia Gourmet Treats
that much better."
Prigel '01 purchased his first stock when he was only 8, so it only figures
that at the ripe age of 18 he would start his own multimillion-dollar
Internet company called streetadvisor.com.
months after the site began, he and 50 other financial analysts offer
some of the most objective stock market advice found in (and out of) cyberspace.
More than 700,000 different users visit the site every month.
"My Dad got
me interested in finances," Prigel said. "From there, I just started reading
more and developing the fundamentals as well."
Prigel also helped manage TCU's Educational Investment Fund his first
semester at TCU and later landed an internship with the billion-dollar
investment firm owned and founded by TCU Trustee J. Luther King '62, a
major supporter of Prigel's company.
who come to our site can invest with the comfort that none of our analysts
trade in stocks individuall; we have no investment-buying biases," Prigel
said. "Basically, what we are saying is the complete and honest truth
of how we feel."
Or as he
told the Financial Times: His company will not get involved in
investment banking, he insists, because "there is no way to remain objective
if you have a seven-percent fee hanging over a potential deal."