Three generations of a family owned company.
In 1944, at the age of 15 Frank Steenbekker started a jewelry apprenticeship, eventually becoming a master jeweler. Throughout the years his career took him on many different paths, working on the bench for many of Seattle’s renowned jewelry companies, opening retail stores, doing work for the trade. All the while his daughter, Deborah, worked alongside him, on the bench and doing the books.
In 1979, Deborah, along with her husband, Phanjaphon (Paul) opened a retail jewelry store in Lake City, Steenbekkers Jewelers. Frank was on the bench, Deborah and Paul ran the store and designed jewelry and Jo, Deborah's mother, joined the business in sales.
Steenbekker store front, before opening day, Lake City 1979.
It just so happened that Paul was originally from Bangkok Thailand, had ties to Chantaburi, and easy access to loose colored gemstones. Thus began a transition to the wholesale side of the industry. In 1983, Bae Inc was born and moved to offices in downtown Seattle. Tiya, the oldest daughter of Paul and Debbie, grew up watching, listening, and learning all about the industry. From the time she was born you could find her sleeping under the counter and as she got older, helping with mailers and office work. In 2002, after graduating from the University of Washington, she decided to try her hand in the jewelry industry and was instantly hooked. Paul retired in 2011 to pursue a new passion with Thai restaurants and Tiya fully took over the helm.
Tiya on a buying trip in Asia, 2017.
We hope to add to this story in the future with the next generation, but only time will tell if any of the 4th have the passion to continue the legacy that was started so long ago.