Small Business Spotlight- Engraving by Mariko

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist
Posted 4:32PM on Wednesday 24th June 2020 ( 2 weeks ago )

Staff at Engraving by Mariko take pride in their ability to transform a plain cup, tumbler or piece of jewelry into something special.

At this family-owned business, that’s what they’ve been doing for nearly four decades and three generations- personalizing items through either manual or computerized engraving or in one of their four laser machines.

“I do jewelry engraving, guns, knives, frames,” said Mariko Smith, owner of Engraving by Mariko. “We also do a lot of the cups as far as like your Yeti or Arctic…we can do the granite markers, like the pet memorials.”

Essentially, if you need something engraved, Smith and her team can more than likely do it.

“Almost anything that we can fit into one of our machines and do some sort of a process on, we will do it,” said Smith, laughing. “People call me and ask me about things just because I don’t know sometimes until I see and item and say, ‘yes, I can figure out a way to hold that.’”

Smith gets business from a variety of sources, but said it’s mainly split in half between individual buyers and commercial businesses.

All of her orders have kept Smith busy over the years, but now she has several ways of completing an order that make the process a little easier. Smith said the process for personalizing an item depends on what it is and what the customer wants done to it. 

For metal items such as a piece of jewelry that are difficult for a machine to hold, Smith uses a handheld manual engraver with a diamond tip to etch designs into the piece. A computer engraver is another option for metal items that can be held in place. Smith simply inserts the design into a computer and the machine with another diamond tip does the rest of the work. 

The computer engraver can also be used on some wooden items such as gun and knives with what Smith called a rotary engraver.

Then there’s the laser machines. These four machines range in size from the two smaller 35 wattage machines to the large 80 wattage machine. Which machine is used depends on the size of the item- smaller items go into the smaller machines while the larger ones go into the largest machine.

Similar to the computer engraver, Smith and her staff can insert a design into a nearby computer and the laser machine takes care of the rest.

While for most items the process is as simple as that, for others another step includes using a sandblaster to ensure the design is in the item for good.

Although the machines certainly make the turnaround on items quicker and easier for staff, at this point Smith is a professional in the engraving business. She said she started engraving when she was a young girl and her parents owned Blue Ridge Trophy Company.

“I really started doing it as a kid, even as a teenager was doing some of those things…so it’s probably been about forty years,” said Smith.

Smith said she used to sit in her parents living room and practice her engraving while she watched television. Her parents would pay her a penny for each letter she engraved on an item.

Smith still has her father around, who hangs out at the store each day and helps in any way he can. And they both know the business is in good hands as Hollingsworth is starting to take on more responsibilities.

“I started working here when I was just in high school to get job experience,” said Hollingsworth. “Ever since then I’ve just naturally taken on more responsibility within being part of the business and its been growing.”

As she’s doing more with the business, Hollingsworth said she is enjoying the creative aspects of engraving.

“It’s really rewarding when someone comes to you and they say ‘Hey, I have an idea but I can’t put it on paper,’ and we can kind of take creative reign,” said Hollingsworth. “And it’s really rewarding when they come back and say, ‘Oh my God, that’s exactly what I was thinking!’.”

Smith said the turnaround on orders is fluid, depending on the order size. The average turnaround on order is 7-10 business days, although staff can work to complete an item quicker for an additional charge. 

And pricing Is another fluid aspect with Smith’s services. As an example, to laser a name into the cover of a Bible costs $12 and to engrave a piece of jewelry costs $15. 

But the best way to know the price of an order is to speak to Smith herself. You can reach her at 770-534-0316 or visit her website.

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