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 living as well as possible—during the COVID-19 crisis.
Today we hear from Dana Gordon, founder and designer of the Chicago-based “everyday luxe” fine jewelry brand Dana Rebecca Designs.
JCK: Hi, Dana! Are you working from home today?
Dana Gordon: Yes, I have a first grader doing remote school, so I’m trying to hold it all together. [Gordon’s young daughters, Poppy and Lulu, make frequent appearances on Dana Rebecca’s Instagram account.]
How did you steer your business through this unprecedented year?
I actually love reflecting on this, because it’s been a pivotal year for so many reasons. I was used to traveling overseas four to six times a year and doing trunk shows and appearances and events, and all of that ended overnight last March. As a founder and designer and mom, I had no idea what was in store for me. I had never been very personal in sharing my life [on social media], but at that point, I let the curtain drop. I started showing people what I was going through, and an incredible new sense of community came out of that. It became a year of people supporting the business because they liked not only the jewelry but also what I stand for.
It must be helpful that Dana Rebecca offers fine jewelry in a variety of price points.
Totally—and we also have a wide demographic, from someone in her first job, who might want to add a single earring to her stack, to a grandmother buying a push present or a sentimental piece for herself. Our jewelry is classic and timeless and makes you feel good. Extravagant things are collecting dust in my closet, but I have worn all of my jewelry.
How important has your website been in maintaining sales?
Our showrooms, wholesale business, and independent retail business went to zero in early 2020, except for our website. At first, there was some hesitancy online; we saw a lot of traffic because people were bored, but as the community we had been building on Instagram grew, the open rates on our emails and newsletters went through the roof. In May, which is Mother’s Day and our [company’s] anniversary, when we offer our only sitewide sale, we had our best month in the history of the business online. What the last year has led me to do is really focus on direct feedback from customers. A beautiful image is not enough right now—people love seeing the jewelry from different angles on video. I show samples on [Instagram] stories, and the response is like a focus group at my fingertips.
How has the pandemic affected your work as the brand’s sole designer?
It’s been a huge challenge. There’s a loss of control when you’re not traveling, and I loved being in the factory [in Mumbai, India], where I have an amazing team. I worked with the CAD designers, with the carvers—I was immersed in the whole process, and a lot of designs would come from that, and from seeing how women [travelers] wear jewelry. I’m having more conversations now with people on my team about what’s missing from their jewelry boxes.
Why did you decide to spotlight other small businesses in Dana Rebecca’s “Female Founded Friday” Instagram stories?
Being at home, with a great audience of 100,000-plus followers, I realized that I love to connect people. It started by supporting friends who had founded new businesses, and now it’s taken on a life of its own and become a passion of mine. It’s given me a purpose in these hard times and made me fall in love with my career all over again. I was 16 years old when I launched my first collection, and I’m 37 now—I’ve been doing this for 21 years, and the love and support I have felt from the community that surrounded me and from these female founders has filled my bucket.
Finally, how do you relax? Any at-home entertainment ideas to share?
Oh my gosh, my husband and I have watched an embarrassing amount of television this year. Part of it is [the question of] “When does the workday end?” There’s no commute, so we close the laptop and start binging. We just finished The Serpent on Netflix, which is so messed up. We watched three seasons of Money Heist. We rewatched Lost, and we’re in the middle of Call My Agent. We’ve watched so many shows in foreign languages, because it forces you to pay attention. If you watch the Housewives, you can multitask.
Top: Dana Gordon working from home (photos courtesy of Dana Gordon)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine