Every Thursday during the pandemic, we’re checking in on members of the jewelry trade in an attempt to glean shareable tips and tricks for doing business—and reentering our “normal” lives, both professionally and personally—during the COVID-19 crisis.
Today we hear from Emily Faith Strauss, the Los Angeles–based founder and designer of EF Collection, which specializes in delicate, feminine fine jewelry.
JCK: We can’t begin an interview titled “How She’s Managing” without expressing deep sympathy for the loss of your baby boy, Austin, last spring. Can you share how you are honoring his memory with your Angels 4 Austin initiative?
Emily Faith Strauss: After the loss of my son this past April to polycystic kidney disease, my husband and I were eager to establish a foundation to raise awareness and help others in his memory. We created Angels 4 Austin, which aims to provide small comforts and supportive resources for the families of premature or sick infants, and for those who have been affected by infant loss. A family’s life changes drastically when they are confronted with the traumatic and unexpected challenges of having a baby in the NICU. As the champion of Austin’s legacy, Angels 4 Austin strives to give hope and strength to these families and help them to feel less alone during an extraordinarily difficult time.
As you look back over this strange pandemic year, what was the key to keeping your business going? What was the most important change or pivot you made?
The key to keeping the business going was social media and our website. With most of our retailers closed for business (including our West Hollywood showroom), being able to ship our pieces directly to our customers’ doorsteps was essential. We continued to rely heavily on Instagram to showcase our newest collections and engage with our clients. I think the biggest change and pivot was that most of the EF team worked remotely. Figuring out how to work productively in this way took some time, but we were able to find our groove.
When were you able to reopen your showroom for events, and how are customers responding?
During the pandemic, we held private piercing sessions for friends of the brand, which were very successful. In the last two months, we’ve held one-day private piercing sessions back-to-back every 20 minutes. We’ve been able to pierce 25 to 30 clients in a day, and [every time slot has] sold out within an hour of releasing the date. I think people are excited to get out of the house and have a fun activity to look forward to!
What adjustments did you make as a designer, if any, over the past year? How did the pandemic affect you creatively?
With travel at a halt, I’ve had to look for other sources of inspiration. Our upcoming holiday collection is really a continuation of best-selling styles, reworked using new diamond shapes. We’re also introducing new enamel colors and chain offerings based on our clients’ requests.
You have a loyal clientele. What types of pieces were EF Collection fans drawn to in the past year?
Right now, personalization and mix-and-match earrings are two heavy hitter categories for us. With so many of our clients having kids—and their mothers now having grandchildren—everyone wanted something unique and custom to honor their growing families. More piercings have also allowed for more holes to fill, so our baby studs and mini huggies are pieces we can’t keep in stock.
Why did you decide to expand into a clothing line collaboration?
EF Collection is a lifestyle brand. It’s not just a diamond necklace, but how you wear it. I try to inspire how women can wear their EF pieces. I was so excited when the opportunity presented itself to collaborate with my friend Brittany [Correy], the talented woman behind the brand the Lady & the Sailor. We created a line of bouclé sweatshirts, sweatshorts, and sweatpants inspired by our best-selling enamel color palette. This collection was transitional—cute for lounging, but also stylish and great for running errands as we start to leave the house. The first launch was very successful, selling out almost immediately!
You mentioned that social media and your website have been important in keeping your business strong. Any advice for jewelry retailers on using these tools more effectively?
I personally handle the EF Collection Instagram account and spend a lot of time making unique content that is authentic to the EF brand and to myself. Coming up with creative ways to style my pieces and keep inspiring clients is effective in generating sales.
Finally, how do you relax? Any TV/movie/book/music/podcast recommendations to share?
I’m typically going at quite a pace during the day, so when my head hits the pillow, I crash within five minutes! I’m always looking for new shows, but my go-to when I’m not in the mood to scroll Netflix is Chicago P.D. or Law & Order: SVU.
Top: Emily Faith Strauss of EF Collection (photos courtesy of EF Collection)
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