Happy New Year! I hope 2014 ended on a good note for you. It did for me. I wound down the year in Chicago, where I wandered the galleries of the Art Institute on Dec. 31, admiring its vast collections of medieval armor, Renaissance jewels, and 20th-century photography (including a fascinating but exceptionally creepy series of images of people falling by the artist Sarah Charlesworth).
As with every year-end, I contemplated my resolutions for the new year (after dropping serious cash at the Art Institute gift shop, Shop less! tops the list), and then I contemplated yours. If I were in the business of buying and selling jewelry, here’s what I’d resolve to do in 2015:
1. Support Companies With a Do-Good Ethos
As recently as a few years ago, jewelry made using sustainable materials or incorporating a charitable component was considered a sideshow to the jewelry industry’s main event. Today, brands that emphasize buying right, giving back, and doing good in their communities are directing the conversation—particularly with socially minded millennial buyers.
Make room in your cases for the kinds of brands I talked about in a recent blog post about jewels for a cause, not just because you’ll be supporting worthy initiatives (though that’s a pretty compelling incentive in and of itself), but because it’ll prove a boon to your own business. Trust me on this!
I just discovered Ash + Ames, a super-stylish brand that works in this vein, and even though it’s a direct-to-consumer brand, I urge you to check it out. Founders Amy Nobile and Trisha Ashworth recruit talented female artisans in places such as Sri Lanka, India, France, Haiti, and the United States to contribute to each collection—resulting in pieces like this stunning $150 Guayacan wood collar necklace, below, made by artisans in Haiti.
Courtesy Ash + Ames
2. Make a Commitment to Technology
Luddites finish last. That should be your mantra this year, because it’s truer than ever. First and foremost, make sure your website looks good on a mobile device. If it doesn’t have what’s known as a responsive design, fire your Web developer and build your own site on Squarespace. I mean it. (My sister, Julia, just used the super-intuitive platform to build a new site for me, and I’m thrilled with it.)
Next, get yourself ready to accept Apple Pay. Mobile payments are about to hit the mainstream, and you don’t want to be left out in the cold. To get a grip on what it all means and how you can stay ahead of the curve, follow JCK’s in-the-know retail editor, Emili Vesilind, who’s been covering the topic for months.
Finally, consider making room in one of your cases for the freshest, hippest wearables on the market. Your younger customers will flock to them, and you’ll earn a reputation for being on the cutting edge. I’m partial to the Tyia designed by former JCK Rock Star winner Walt Adler, but there are scores of devices coming on the market in the weeks and months ahead, so there should be no shortage of techie jewels to choose from. I strongly urge you to bookmark Emili’s blog for up-to-the-minute coverage (like this).
In short, be forward thinking. Your survival depends on it (dun-dun-duuuun!).
3. Attend More Face-to-Face Events
Okay, this resolution might sound a little self-serving coming from someone who owes her paycheck (ultimately) to the success of the shows in the JCK Events universe. But hear me out for a minute.
For all the lecturing I’ve done about the importance of social media and digital operations, I’m a huge believer in seeing and doing things in the real world. Whenever I have a story to write, I do everything in my power to report it in person, even if it’s possible to get the same information via phone or email. There is no better way to grasp the nuance of a situation than to experience it directly. Likewise, there’s no better way to make a lasting impression on someone, or take home a lasting impression, than by shaking hands and looking someone in the eye.
A few events I’ve bookmarked for 2015:
Baselworld, March 19–26, Basel, Switzerland—the world’s most influential watch and jewelry fair.
American Gem Society Conclave, April 22–26, New Orleans—a gab-fest for the savviest retailers in the nation, in the epic setting of the Crescent City, no less!
JCK Las Vegas, May 29–June 1, Las Vegas—ground zero for the American jewelry industry. Enough said.
Best wishes for 2015!