With more designers opening up about frustrating consignment-only sale agreements from stores coupled with increases in jewelry-only store closures, it’s clear that shifts are occurring at the wholesale level.
That’s why the timing of Benjamin Guttery and Hannah Becker’s soon-to-debut Instagram-based holiday gift guide to consumers is eerily prescient. Internally, JCK staffers have been discussing how more designers are going direct to market to make up for lack of wholesale sales—some in industry have already revealed that they are selling direct—and today, a compelling story in today’s Business of Fashion, “The Future of Retail is the End of Wholesale,” neatly wraps up all of these ideas and confirms the timeliness of Guttery and Becker’s venture.
If you’re not familiar with the pair, here’s what you need to know. Guttery is an Instagrammer at the handle @ThirdCoastGems (he is based in Texas). Guttery has accrued an astounding 26,000-plus followers in just a few years while selling jewelry at a store in Texas. He recently completed his graduate gemology degree at the GIA and is toying with marketing-gig options in industry as well as continuing cost-free promotions of fave designers and stores on Instagram. Becker, meanwhile, helms @Diamondoodles, also has a GG, and has previously worked for Kaiser Gems, where she developed her signature doodles—loose stones arranged around sketches of whimsical inspirations such as champagne glasses (see below), bunny slippers, beards, and Halloween-inspired ruby-encrusted (i.e., bloody) knives.
The pair and real-life pals have developed a following for their respective talents—Guttery the cheerleader and Becker the artist—and decided to team up on a holiday gift guide. Given their Instagram success (Becker has nearly 11,000 followers), that social media platform was the obvious choice.
Specific pieces of jewelry were hand-selected by the duo from 13 designers’ available inventories. Price points are “attainable,” according to Guttery, $2,500 to $10,000, and chosen with their audience—recent college grads to thirtysomethings—in mind. (Both ‘Grammers also have a large trade following in addition to a consumer fan base.) Roughly three to five items per designer will be featured for sale, with images of different items posted to each of their Instagram accounts. Links to designers’ online shops will drive consumers to the appropriate site to buy (analytics will reveal from where the sale came), while those without e-commerce will be directed to email Guttery and Becker to complete transactions. The two will get a commission—like a rep—once sales are made. They are not charging designers to participate, as the idea is a test, and Becker is also supplying participants with their own custom doodles. They are teasing the sale with imagery and #TreatYourself3CGDD, #giftguide, #ThirdCoastGems, and #Diamondoodles, and the guide should be live soon and contain a link to view all items on Becker’s website. The ‘Grammers already have another dozen designers lined up for their next guide.
A priority for them both: choosing artists with truly unique signature styles so each would stand out. “We didn’t want designers to get lost in a mix of similar aesthetics,” says Guttery.
Many designers were so enthused about the idea that they offered one-off pieces. Marla Aaron, for example, is allowing them to offer one of her signature locks loaded with more than 400 garnets, and Erica Courtney is offering a gold and diamond chevron band. While Courtney is one of a few who does not sell direct to consumers, she’s participating with pieces that otherwise sit in a safe and not in one of her store’s cases.
“I feel like this will actually help my retailers,” says Courtney. “It’s another way to promote the brand, and if my clients like what they see, they’ll shop locally at the store that carries my jewelry.”
Besides Courtney and Aaron, Todd Reed, Shaesby, and Melissa Kaye Jewelry, among others, are also included in sales. Once the guide items go live, expect them to be offered for several weeks. Returns will be permitted because items are selling at full retail prices.
“This is a fun way to introduce new products, gemstones, and jewelry, and to harness the power of social media,” observes Becker. “We’re excited to use Instagram as a new outlet for sales.”
Above and below: teaser images used to promote the soon-to-debut online gift guide
The chevron band in 18k gold with 0.68 ct. t.w. diamonds from Erica Courtney retails for $10,000 and will be included in the Instagram gift guide sale.
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