The first-ever Future of Design Business Incubator Contest had its live finale on March 13 during the MJSA Expo. Massachusetts-based Bree Richey, whose architectural and Art Deco–influenced sterling silver designs can currently be seen in more than 70 of the country’s finest fine art and craft galleries, was named the winner.
Elizabeth Garvin presenting to panelists Cindy Edelstein, Mendel Rotenberg, Kate Peterson, Helena Krodel and Andrea Hill (photo courtesy of Cindy Edelstein).
“This was the hardest decision of my career,” said Cindy Edelstein, panelist and co-creator of the competition. “All three finalists make phenomenal jewelry. The one point of difference came down to who had the most forward-thinking vision to propel their business forward. We chose the one who we thought we could take the farthest.”
The live finale included 10-minute presentations by all three finalists, including runners-up Jennifer Dawes and Elizabeth Garvin. Each designer was tasked with making a final pitch to the judging panel that explained their work, inspiration, and plans for the future. Panelists and audience members, including competition “dream team” members Robert Lee Morris and Erica Courtney, probed further into each designer’s vision with tough questions about manufacturing, retailers, marketing, and price points.
Dawes spoke passionately about her commitment to sustainable jewelry, while Garvin explained her desire to move from designer to fine jewelry—with a 10-fold price point raise. Richey was lauded by Morris for a “complete presentation that showed her professionalism.”
As the winner, Richey will receive:
- A year of manufacturing services by Fusion Jewelry
- A year of sales representation by ViewPoint
- Sales training and retail introductions by Performance Concepts
- Consulting on strategy, financials and technology by StrategyWerx
- A booth in globalDESIGN
- Premium membership on JewelryDesignerFinder.com
- A suite of marketing products from Jeweler’s Resource Bureau
- A booth in the Designer Showcase at the JA NY show
- An ad campaign in INDESIGN magazine
- Photography and ad campaign creation by RSP Media
- Inclusion in three celebrity award suites with Michael O’Connor
- Mentorship by all the judges
- Promotion and publicity throughout the process
While Richey was named the winner, co-creator Andrea Hill noted that all three finalists will receive help in the coming months. “We have a lot of commitment to everyone who entered this contest,” Hill said. “We will definitely be giving advice to all three.”