Today at the Women's Jewelry Association's annual educational conference, In The Know, we sat in on some excellent sessions. The panel, "Inside Designer Studio: Unique Retail and Design Relationship," covered the importance for jewelry retailers to cultivate strong relationships with the designers they merchandise or as panelist Laura Freedman says "represent." Moderated by Helena Krodel of Luxe Intelligence, the panelists -- Laura Freedman, owner of Broken English, and jewelry designer Pamela Love -- discussed their shared passion for jewelry and the benefits of their business relationship.
Pamela Love is a creator of jewelry influenced by archetypal symbols, motifs that reoccur throughout cultures and history -- "that give the wearer power" as she describes it. Magic is a key motif, because to Pamela "jewelry is magic."
Laura Freedman's jewelry boutique, Broken English, is an eclectic mix of her favorite designers -- currently 15. She sees herself as a curator. Laura sees jewelry as a piece of history, similar to Pamela. She's created a comfortable space where her customers feel at home with beautiful wood finishes mixed with modern touches.
Some of the best takeaways for independent jewelry retailers and designers:
Business Buddy System
When retailers and suppliers nurture their relationship, it allows for better business collaboration. Pamela mentioned a big benefit for her is the ability to discuss her business questions with other business owners who may have the same issues, from the same or different perspectives -- sales tax issues, supply chain questions, etc.
Choose Unique Vision Over Trend
Laura advised retailers to seek out designers who are at the forefront of having their own voice in fashion and design, instead of seeking brands or designers who simply replicate the trends. On trends, both women shared an opinion against seeking out trends. "It creates a lot of room for everything to become homogenized," she explained.
Jewelry Display Is Key
Make the jewelry feel special, and emphasize the uniqueness of the piece and the designer. There are many ways to do this. If the jewelry is strong, display it on forms that show how it will be worn on the body. It all goes back to the story and generating excitement for the jewelry. It doesn't need to be expensive, something as simple as pebbles, shells, cactus -- whatever reflects the feeling you want the customer to get from the pieces.
When displaying jewelry. Always have an anchor piece and then sprinkle in the supporting pieces. Keep it curated, Laura advises to keep the amount of pieces by a particular designer to between 15-20 max.
Don't Grow Beyond Your Brand
While growing retail outlets is the primary focus of any independent designer, but consider who your retail business partners are and don't be too quick to grow over being true to your brand. Pamela Love is sold in more than 100 retailers, but if she could rethink her strategy she would scale back and work with the retailers who are able to translate her story in their stores, like Broken English, and focus more on her direct business.
Retail Sales & Direct Sales Can Work Together
When working with designers who do their own direct to customer business, consider collaborating with them to offer special web or in-store exclusive offers for their jewelry that promotes purchases through your store while promoting their brand as well.