COVID-19 Check-In: Brenda Newman of The Jewelry Source in Downtown El Segundo

This Q&A is the first in an online series that explores how community members are adjusting to the so-called “new normal” introduced by the arrival of the novel coronavirus.

By Elliott Wright, writer for The El Segundo Scene

Brenda Newman on a golf course in California
Brenda Newman

Since the stay-at-home order began, I have been keeping myself busy with books, music, and movies. I suspect many people are passing the time in a similar fashion. I decided to reach out to some El Segundo community members about what they are watching, reading, and listening to, and what they think the post-COVID-19 future holds. 

My first interview subject was Brenda Newman, co-founder of The Jewelry Source on Main Street. (The late Roanne Mahony, who passed in March of this year, was the business’s cofounder, Brenda’s longtime dear friend, and a well-known member of the El Segundo community.) 

Now in its 36th year, The Jewelry Source has been shaken-up by the pandemic. From my brief phone conversation with Brenda, I could tell that she has been very busy using the last two months to regroup and bounce back stronger than ever. Between renovating her storefront and working remotely with customers and vendors, she has had little recreational time. However, when she found a free moment or two, she was able to check out some streamable series and music from the comfort of her home. Here are her reflections on the past two months, in her own words.

Brenda, what have the last two months looked like for you, your business, and your customers?

Brenda: The bulk of my time was spent trying to figure out how to stay positive and safe. Yet there were times when I had to go to the bank as I was in the process of seeking funding for small businesses like mine. Our industry basically shut down, as did many industries. We were considered nonessential.

We have the trust of other people, in that we have their jewelry pieces, which are treasured possessions. We couldn’t keep those pieces hostage. We had to assure those people that we were here, and we weren’t just going to close the door for two weeks. So we were here and available to work by appointment.

You mentioned you binge-watched a couple of series on Netflix when you found a rare moment of free time. What were the shows? What was your favorite?

Bloodline, You’re Dead to Me, and Ozark. Ozark was my favorite. I can hardly wait for the next season. It was captivating—such a hot mess. I just loved it. Now I’m watching, when I can, Money Heist. It was really nice to have the capacity to watch television without commercials.

What sort of music have you been turning to during the turbulent times?

Josh Groban. He did a whole thing where he sang shower songs at his house. That was his tribute. I followed that; it was very exciting.

How—if at all—do you think human interaction may change once we become more assimilated? Will there be more compassion for each other?

I really would hope that we become a kinder nation to one another. I definitely think that there will be a ginormous reset. I think a lot of people will change. At my age, I learned a lot of things about myself; I need to have better balance in my life. 

I need to take that time for myself and balance life outside of the workforce. Not just be owned by the business. It’s been my life for the last 40 years, so it’s a lot. But, you do learn a lot [during lockdown] because you are really forced to better understand yourself and what’s important.

Editor's note: Look for The El Segundo Scene's second COVID-19 Check-In within the next few days!

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