Interview With David Yurman President Carol Pennelli

On July 29, David Yurman president Carol Pennelli (pictured) will receive a Visionary Award from the Women’s Jewelry Association. Here, the 17-year company veteran, who became its president last year, talks about Yurman’s female-friendly culture, where she sees the brand going, and how it’s reaching out to millennials.

JCK: You are receiving the Women’s Jewelry Association Visionary Award next week. Sybil Yurman has said that 73% of your executive ranks are women. Is that important for the company?

Carol Pennelli: We are very proud that the company was cofounded by Sybil Yurman. She has played an instrumental role in the development of this business. In the 17 years, I have worked with [founders] David and Sybil [Yurman], these two visionaries, they have always believed very strongly in gender parity and women’s rights. I think that Evan Yurman, who is now very involved is the business, is the next generation projecting that same commitment to the employees and to the business.

David Yurman’s direct-to-consumer sales, including your stores and your e-commerce site, now constitute about 65% of your business. Will that be a focus going forward?

It has naturally evolved and has been a strategy from the beginning of my tenure. {Our goal is] not to reduce wholesale, but to control our destiny with our consumers and clients. We love creating an elevated experience. But we are still committed to the wholesale channel.

We have maintained our position as an industry leader in the department store channel and we have a very strong partnership with our independent network. The business is very different in terms of the product focus. We have a significant percentage of our business that is exclusive to our retail network, with categories like engagement rings and high and fine jewelry collections.

Who do you see as the core Yurman customer?

We have different categories. We have our loyalist. She is very loyal and she’s a collector. We also have male customers who purchase the men’s items, and they are real collectors and brand advocates. Now we have a modern prospect, more of an urban younger customer.

A lot of our customers are very diverse as far as age groups. They come into the brand as a teenager, maybe with their birthday and bat mitzvah, and grow up with the brand.

David Yurman store
David Yurman’s new store at the Mall at Green Hills in Nashville, Tenn.

A lot of companies are talking about attracting millennials. Is that a priority for you?

Millennials are about 20% of our sales. We are doing some interesting artistic collaborations, pop-ups, and social media that are connected to a younger generation. We have product that is more on-trend and more on the fashion end than what our loyalists would gravitate to, which is the more traditional cable look. We are being intentional in the way we speak to the various customer segments.

Do you think your brand has significant awareness among millennials?

We have a lot of work to do to develop our David Yurman brand awareness in general. There is an international drive for us to grow brand awareness.

David Yurman Aventura
The new Yurman store in Aventura, Fla.

Will you be doing more marketing?

We have a pretty significant marketing investment. We are doing more outdoor advertising. Like the rest of the world, we are doing more digital advertising. Our investment in the film This Changes Everything [a documentary examining gender bias in Hollywood], executive-produced by Evan Yurman’s wife [Ku-Ling Yurman], was very important for us. I’m a big champion and advocate of that film and projects like that.

How are your online sales? is a very successful site. It is the first point of entry for many shoppers. We have curated collections on Farfetch and WeChat, and we obviously sell on the Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Bloomingdale’s sites. We have men’s curated collections on Mr. Porter. While those sites are not necessarily a commercial endeavor, they are great for awareness building.

David Yurman Renaissance cuff
This Renaissance cuff with pavé diamonds in 18k yellow gold is part of the brand’s new High Jewelry collection.

What should we expect to see from the brand over the next year?

We are moving our global flagship to 57th Street. We have the 50th anniversary of the brand next year. We have further investments and openings in international markets. We will consider North American stores in markets we are not in yet. We will continue to invest in digital. The evolution of high and fine jewelry continues to be an important focus. We will continue to make one-of-a-kind creations for interested loyalists and new clients.

Do you think that the two cofounders will ever step away from the business?

It’s a family business. There’s no intention for David or Sybil to step away from the business. They are deeply committed to its success.

(Images courtesy of David Yurman)

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