Business Advice for Designers Entering the US Fine Jewelry Market

Posted on August 27, 2012

A few months ago Lilian Raji of the Lilian Raji Agency created a very comprehensive series of events in NYC for the government of Quebec’s export division featuring 14 fine jewelry designers.

The Jewelry Artists of Quebec event was phenomenal –a monthlong exhibition at the beautiful Aaron Faber Gallery that started with a VIP party and press appointments. It was an organizational tour de force and Lilian did an amazing job.

I am proud to have been a part of the designers’ educational events; we had a terrific business panel with several esteemed colleagues and then I spent two days doing one-on-one consultations with most of the designers. It’s my favorite thing to do — get to know a designer, their inspiration and their work and help them figure out how it should fit into the marketplace and gain recognition.

The panel featured Randi Molofsky an author, journalist and now communications director of GemFields; Theresa Poirier, National Sales Director of Fragments Showroom; Victoria Gomelsky, Editor in Chief for JCK Magazine; Karen Lee, Americas Area Manager for S.T. Dupont and Meeling Wong, Founder of Meeling Wong Associates.

 

Here’s the video from the panel so that you can see the great advice, too.

 

Here’s a few key takeaways from the event — watch the video to hear all the good advice:

 

“I would always focus on the smaller accounts, they’ll be the backbone of your business. Everyone wants to be in the larger stores but they should only be the icing on the cake, you should have your stable, the people that are going to be true to you each time (season). You’re not going to be thought of as a trend….”–  Theresa

Based on a study JCK did recently we found that the luxury market is now a bifurcated market — there’s just the high-end and the low-end — the middle has largely disappeared in recent years, said Victoria Gomelsky.

“Luxury consumers were willing to spend the money for high-end pieces but they wanted a story. They liked the storytelling. When you’re showing a collection you want one that is coherent and cohesive – there’s a throughline that connects all the pieces to the designer and to what they’re saying.”  — Victoria

“Design trumps preciousness. If there’s a concept and a strong craftsman element to it then it will sell. Customer doesn’t mind the mix of fine and not-precious if the design is coherent.” — Victoria

“I look for a very cohesive collection and I want it to have a point-of-view. An identity. And it tells a story so there’s something to talk about. That’s the sign for us that we can really grow with this designer.” Theresa

‘Just did a story about how retailers choose new designers for their stores. It’s more about following your identity and your DNA than following fashion trends. If you’re looking to approach an independent retailer they’ve told me that they need to have enough of a range and a large grouping to choose their own story from.” –Randi

“The more you have for them to choose from the more they can buy. A good merchandiser thinks through the whole assortment needs of all kinds of customers.” — Cindy

“I’ve had a a few meetings with large retailers and they’ve told me that the above $50k and below $2k is doing well. Anything in the  middle is where the aspirational customer isn’t back yet.” — Meeling

Get more great advice on the video.

 

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