WHEN TALENTED PROFESSIONALS TALK, WE LISTEN.
In this issue, Western Home Journal profiles two businesses who operate out of the heart of their communities.
From its office in downtown Bozeman, Gallatin Real Estate offers a boutique real estate experience and helps clients find not just a home, but their authentic Montana lifestyle.
From her shop and showroom in Big Sky Meadow Village, Shelly Bermont designs jewelry lines that appeal to a wide audience—from the opera aficionado to the lover of western swing.
Gallatin Real Estate
Joy Vance, Owner & Managing Broker
Located in the heart of downtown Bozeman, Gallatin Real Estate is a local boutique Real Estate Company. In addition to serving the greater Bozeman area including Big Sky and Livingston, the firm also serves Park, Missoula, and Lake Counties. Their mission is to provide clients with concierge home buying and selling services. They don’t just sell homes; they sell the Montana lifestyle.
What is your professional background?
I have not always been an entrepreneur; I have a long history of working in corporate America. I was with Victoria’s Secret for over 18 years, spending most of my career building and leading large leadership teams at a national level. For the past four years, I’ve brought my passion for developing people’s talents, building successful teams, and creating strong service cultures to the Gallatin Real Estate team.
What inspires your work?
Making a difference. I see a lot of opportunity to raise the tide in the Montana real estate industry. As an example, when I started in real estate I had little support, felt a lack of collaboration, and experienced a resistance to new ideas. I wanted to create a company that was the opposite of that. I am inspired when I see an opportunity to make things better. We speak a lot about the importance of being in a service industry and providing service to others. That does not end with the client. We provide an important service to our communities as community leaders. What we do makes a difference in many people’s lives and in the future of the communities where we live. That inspires and guides our work every day, knowing we can and do make a difference.
How do you see the real estate industry changing over the next 5-10 years?
We are seeing it now. The expanse of the internet and the speed at which we have information is like nothing we have ever seen before. But real estate is still a relationship-based business and the value Realtors offer will continue into the future. I often chuckle when I hear a client tell me that another Broker said their company is better because they have “global presence and exposure.” So do we; it is called the internet. We have all of the tools and all of the resources at our fingertips, as do our clients. Service will always be what sets the best teams apart. Buying a home, moving, and selling a home will always be stressful. The brokerages that make the experiences as easy, informative, and painless as possible and do it with the most consistency will continue to thrive. I consider it like a concierge service for each and every client.
What can your clients expect from working with you and your team?
Consistency, care, and expertise. We have four values we stand by: we put service first; we think and act big; we care; and we know it’s not easy. We hold each and every one of our agents to the same standard of excellence. We know it’s not easy to be the best in the industry and that nothing worth having in life comes easily, so we put in the work. We do that because we are personally invested. We care deeply about our work, each other, our brand, and our clients. We also know that to be the best, we have to be the most innovative, creative, and collaborative as a team.
Why do you believe Montana has become such a desirable place to live?
Life is not easy, now nor has it ever been. I believe that recently we have seen the realization that life is fragile and fleeting. Montana offers a safe place where people are connected to nature. We use the phrase “where culture and nature meet.” Visit downtown Bozeman and have an incredible meal, but take a 15-minute drive and you are in the mountains watching moose drink from the stream. It is important to all of us to keep that Montana experience intact.
What does your team do for fun?
We are your typical Montana people. We ski, hike, bike, fish, and get outdoors. We try to do a monthly team event where we enjoy a piece of Montana. Last winter was a sleigh ride at the 320 Guest Ranch. In March was the pub-run in downtown Bozeman. We must live Montana to help others live it as well.
Shelly Bermont Fine Jewelry
Shelly Bermont, artist, artisan & owner
From her Big Sky workshop, Shelly Bermont designs and crafts elegant jewelry. Incorporating the finest precious and semi-precious gemstones as well as exquisite pearls, her pieces range from casual accessories that are knotted on unique shades of leather to classic strands of pearls to custom one-of-a-kind adornments. Stop by the showroom in Meadow Village to find that piece that says “you”—be it for an evening at the opera…or a night out at an old Montana saloon.
How did you get your start?
I have always loved jewelry, but I realized that most pieces were too formal for everyday wear. As an art major, I loved creating and working with my hands. I found craftsmen willing to teach me how to take apart my jewelry and redesign my own pieces. I also started making pieces from scratch, which meant going to trade shows for supplies. That gave me even more ideas.
Friends saw my designs and asked me to redo their jewelry. Or sometimes they wanted something I wore. I would sell them that piece and then make another for myself. I realized then that it could be a business.
First, I started going to established jewelry stores and offering to remake inventory that wasn’t selling. I wasn’t a name designer, but my remakes started selling. Then they began featuring my personal designs. I started doing an annual circuit of shows at fine jewelry houses across the country like Underwood Jewelers in Florida.
When I became a year-round Big Sky resident, however, I wanted a home base for my work. That’s how the Shelly Bermont Fine Jewelry store was born.
How do you see your field changing in the next 5-10 years and what technologies will play a part?
Jewelry-making has already changed a tremendous amount since I became a goldsmith. Most jewelry is now made by CAD—Computer-Aided Design. A computer helps design and mold a piece for mass production, but I still do everything by hand.
There are now lab-grown diamonds. These have the exact chemical makeup as natural diamonds, but cost about 30% less. We, as jewelers, have an obligation to make sure customers know what they’re buying.
Another change is that the sale of metals and stones we buy can no longer finance civil wars. Mining workers must have fair pay, safe working conditions, and environmentally sound practices. Ensuring these protections is important to everyone involved, from the miner to the trader to the craftsperson to the customer.
Do you have favorite materials to use or a style you prefer or are known for?
I love high-karat gold because it’s fun to mold by hand and I’m madly in love with pearls! I especially love baroque pearls for their unique shapes and personalities. Before I drill a pearl, I wait for it to tell me what it wants to be.
I always thought pearls should have more fun, so I paired them with leather, then introduced hammered caps and so on. I made pearl necklaces that could be wrapped as bracelets and lariats long enough to wear as a wrapped choker, a long necklace, or even a belt. These go with jeans as well as with evening wear. Customers love the versatility.
I still love remaking people’s old pearl jewelry into fresh, often casual, and, most importantly, wearable pieces.
What do you enjoy most about your work and why?
My happy place is in the studio, but I also love the store. I get to see what shades, shapes, and styles look good on people. I love helping people look their best.
I also like the fact that our jewelry has a wide price point. I like that customers don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to have something lovely.
What do you enjoy most about living and working where you do?
27 years, full-time for six of those years. What brought me here was its beauty, and I still feel that way. Winters are majestic and I’ll take summer here over any place in the country.
It feeds my soul.
Describe your process. How do you work with clients?
First, we want everyone to feel comfortable about coming in just to browse. That’s how they, and we, learn what styles they like.
Then we establish what they’re looking for and what they’d like to spend. We never want anyone to feel pushed in a direction he or she isn’t comfortable going. That’s why our store offers a wide variety of price points. If they don’t see what they want, we can draw something on the spot and I can make it. I’ve done that with a lot of engagement rings lately. I really want people to get what they want and to be happy with their purchase.
At the end of the day, weunderstand that jewelry is not a necessity of life. It’s fun, makes us feel good, and should make you feel pretty. We’re about making sure you love that ‘unnecessity’ that you wear.