I am from a large family with 9 children. Our family didn't have much money so I was told from a very early age that if you want something you have to work for it. In third grade, I got my first job delivering newspapers. My goal was a ten speed bike. By the fall I had two paper routes; one before school and one after. By Christmas my Dad and I went to the bike shop, and I picked out a Schwinn 10-speed bike. It cost me $131.17, and I will never forget it.
My father was very active in the church. He would do whatever was needed. During my childhood I remember watching him make Rosary beads at the kitchen table or while he watched football on the weekends. He had it down to a science. He could make one every few minutes it seemed. I remember asking him one day, "Dad, do you get paid for that?" My mind was again looking for ways to make money. He said, "Yes, I do!" I said, "How much do you get?" His response is one of those things that has stuck with me all my life. He said that if I help one person in my life, I've been paid.
During that same time frame there was a man that made things in the window of his shop. I would stop and watch almost every day while on my paper route. Soon I was stopping in to talk to him. He ended up showing me some tricks of the trade. His name was Peter Small, and the store's name was Peter Small's Goldsmith Shop. (That's why I named my store Goldsmith and not Jewelers, because we make things.) Peter showed me how to make many things from gold jewelry including arrowheads the way the Native Americans made them. Years later during my first year of high school the school decided to start a jewelry making program. I signed up for the class and later became a student teacher.
Being the youngest of nine, Mom's apron strings were a bit tight to the point that I needed to get away to grow. I had a group of guys that were going to hitchhike with me across the country to Alaska after we graduated from high school. By the time graduation came everyone backed out except me. I left alone seven days after graduation and hitchhiked across the country to Washington State. I took a ferry for three days until we were dropped at the Alcan Highway (a 700 mile dirt road in Canada) that went up and back into Alaska, from there up to a split in the road in a town called Tok. Tok was the halfway point, where you had to decide if you were going to Fairbanks or Anchorage. I chose Anchorage; not sure why, but I did. While there I got a job on a fishing boat out on Bristol Bay catching and cleaning fish. It was a very tough job. We worked 106 hours a week during the Salmon Run. After the fishing run ended so did the job. I went back to Anchorage and got a job as a cook at a very prestigious restaurant called Clinkendager Bickerstaff and Pets Public House Restaurant. It was a great job and a good experience. After six months in Alaska I returned home.
Back in Massachusetts I applied at Springfield Tech where I was accepted into the civil engineering program. Before school started I changed my mind and signed up to join the United States Air Force. I became an Honor Guard at the White House serving President Reagan in 1984. It really was a great job. During that time I wanted a part-time job to keep me busy so I got a job as a goldsmith apprentice at Springfield Mall. While still active duty I started my own contracting business doing jewelry repairs for stores all over the metropolitan area. After two years I requested a release from the Air Force through a program called Palace Chase. (It referred to chasing your palace or your dreams, if you can prove you have a job better than the Air Force can provide, they could let you out.) I got out! I had to double my time in the Reserves.
In 1990, I opened Quinn's Goldsmith in Occoquan, VA. In 1996, I purchased the building at 199 Union Street. At first I lived there, but by 1999 the store was growing at such a fast rate I moved out so the store could expand to occupy the entire building.
Over the past ten years Quinn's has raised over 250,000 dollars by having a silent and live auction in our store or at Bistro L'Hermitage for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in memory of my daughter, Michaela Lee Quinn. In 2010, I became a member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, Northern Virginia Advisory Council.
During these years I have expanded my artistic interest. Starting as a goldsmith, I went to New York for Advanced Model Making and Custom Design. After my two children were born, I decided that I wanted to keep them from ever growing up the only way I knew how. I thought, if I can make a ring, a three dimensional piece, why not do the same but on a bigger scale with my kids. So I started classes at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC where eventually I sculpted clay statues of my children (picture). From there I became inspired and decided to make it my dream to become an artist in every media I could imaginable. From steel by doing gun engraving, to wood, to stone and wax that I had been practicing for 25 years. I even made my own tools to accomplish things I didn't think possible. All this to understand, enjoy my life, and to better serve my customers. At 20 years, I have come up with the perfect symbol of my life. The Hero Medal, for all the people that have inspired me along the way. I designed it, had a CAD machine outline it, then I re-engraved it in the medal, only to cast it into the gold and silver as it is now.
Who knows where life will lead from here, but I'm a very grateful man to have been given so much. Mostly I'm grateful for all the customers and friends I have made along the way. I hope it never ends.