On Sept. 23, Brilliant Earth went public. It raised over $100 million in its initial public offering, which values the company at about $1.1 billion, making it an official “unicorn”—which once upon a time meant it was rare. Yesterday, Beth Gerstein (pictured), CEO and cofounder of the San Francisco–based e-tailer, talked with JCK about what being publicly traded means for the site, what the company is going to do with its newfound funds, and whether she plans to stay on board.
JCK: Congratulations on going public. The initial public offering came in at $12 a share, as opposed to the originally forecast $14 to $16 a share, and less shares were offered than you originally planned—8 million as opposed to 16 million. Any thoughts on that?
Beth Gerstein: We’re really excited [about going public]. We are less concerned with the day-to-day trading, in terms of where the stock price is, and more concerned about where we can create long-term value for shareholders.
How do you expect to use the capital infusion?
We’re already profitable. We are very excited to pursue some of the growth opportunities we’ve talked about. We want to increase our brand awareness. Being omnichannel—having in-person showrooms coupled with the digital experience—has been driving a lot of our growth. We have great indications in terms of the strength of the fine jewelry category.
We are excited to increase our international expansion. We already have customers in 50 countries. We definitely see affinity for our brand in other markets.
You have mentioned international growth. Any particular markets that you have your eye on?
There are a few markets like Canada, the U.K., Australia where we want to expand. In terms of Asia, there’s Korea, China—anywhere that sustainability is valued and where the brand resonates.
When you talk about increasing brand awareness, how will that come about? Will you do things like TV ads?
The IPO event is a real exciting brand event for our company. We were listed on [stock trading app] Robinhood—that is great for brand awareness. And we will be supplementing that as far as paid advertising.
You sell both natural and lab-grown diamonds. Do you see either category as being more important to your business? And what percentage of your business does lab-grown comprise, compared to natural?
We are excited to offer these categories side by side and we feel it’s very important to offer both. We don’t get into specifics in terms of categories.
Your prospectus mentioned possible acquisitions. Is that something you are looking at?
We are happy with the model we have. We’ll be opportunistic, but if [an acquisition] happens, it will be organic.
Why did you decide to go public at this time?
We have been preparing for this for a long time. We are a growing profitable company. We need to drive long-term growth to really position us to be a leader in this space.
Do you plan to continue as CEO, and will your cofounder, Eric Grossberg, also stay on board?
It’s been 16 years [as CEO]. I will continue to be CEO, to drive the company through this new chapter. Eric is executive chairman and has been a really strong partner. We have a lot of conviction in the future of the company.
What does going public mean for the company?
I don’t think it will mean a fundamental shift in how we operate the business. We have always been a very disciplined company.
It’s exciting for the jewelry industry as a whole. It’s great to have innovation, it’s great to have new disruptors. This is an industry where relationships are incredibly important, and we are lucky to have strong relationships.
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