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 designer Jane Taylor and Cleo Zancope, the mother-daughter team behind Jane Taylor Fine Jewelry.
JCK: Where are you located, and who have you been spending the last 17 months with?
Jane Taylor: My family and business are based in beautiful New England. I noticed the leaves are about to turn from summer green to autumn colors—totally psyched for that! Our bubble has been our immediate family—which just grew to include a new member—along with our cats and my clumber spaniel named Ruby.
Congratulations on your new grandson! Have you been able to spend time with family over the last (nearly) two years?
Thanks! My first grandson was born at the end of December 2019, right before COVID became a thing, and my second grandson was born just a few weeks ago. We have been incredibly lucky to spend the pandemic together in much the same way we normally would, so it hasn’t changed much about how we live our day-to-day, except for not traveling the way we did before COVID. It has also meant not getting to do all the cultural stuff I normally love, which totally sucks, but hey, I have two grandsons now so it’s all good!
Did the quarantine, lockdowns, etc. have any impact on the way you and Cleo have been able to work together?
Lockdown didn’t have that much of an impact on us, except for in the very beginning, when no one knew what was going on and we anxiously worked from our individual homes for a couple of weeks, waiting to see if the world was coming to an end, which thankfully it did not! We were both so exhausted from a busy Christmas season and Cleo just giving birth that we welcomed the short-lived slower pace. At that point in time, it was just Cleo and me running the business from our main office, so once we figured out a groove with masks and handwashing and creating a pod including childcare, etc., we were able to transition easily back to working in our office, which was awesome! Cleo’s husband even joined us for a time while his office was closed. We were all really grateful to have a safe space to work in outside of our homes for maintaining some sense of sanity and normalcy amidst the chaos.
How has the pandemic impacted business? What have you noticed as things have slowly gotten back to “normal” over the last few months?
Last year ended up being an immensely busy time for us, with our online sales more than doubling. People were looking for colorful, happy, meaningful things to bring into their lives during a dark time, and it gave us immense joy to help in some small way. As 2020 turned into 2021, it seemed that the retailers had adjusted to COVID life and were back in the saddle, so our wholesale is back to where it was pre-COVID. I personally didn’t notice things changing slowly—it seemed like the retailers had great 2020 Christmas business last year and it’s been full steam ahead since then. We have no complaints other than we didn’t feel safe to travel to Vegas for Couture and missed seeing everyone in person for a second year.
What do you predict the holiday season will be like this year for retailers? Can you offer them any tips for catering to their customers this year?
I think the holidays are going to be excellent! People are still buying jewelry, with less expenditure being allocated in other areas like travel, and there is definitely a continued desire for meaningful consumption.
I would never presume to offer any tips because everyone we work with knows their business better than any advice I could ever offer! But if I had to say something, it would be along the lines of what I would always say, which is that life should be lived on your own terms, so buy the jewelry you love in your heart and your gut!
Have you picked up any new hobbies over the last two years? Tell us what’s been keeping you busy.
Well, I’m learning how to be a grandma of two adorable little boys, and that’s pretty cool! Trucks are a big deal, so I am learning about all the different kinds of trucks. I have been keeping busy with some home renovation stuff as well, and I had an excavator at my house, which was fun to show my grandson! Both Cleo and I moved this past spring, so I’ve been keeping very busy with retooling some spaces in my house. It’s the third house I’ve basically redesigned and really love doing this stuff—it’s like jewelry design but on a bigger scale!
What’s next for Jane Taylor as a brand?
We’re going to keep on truckin’ because that’s what we’ve been doing for 26 years!
We truly love being a part of this special industry and can’t believe how lucky we’ve been to not only survive this unprecedented time in history, but to thrive and give back. The increase in retail sales has allowed us to set up a donation program whereby our customers choose how we allocate 5% of their purchase. The organizations we have chosen to donate to are NAACP, Audre Lorde Project, ACLU, and Equal Justice Initiative.
For the first time since the pandemic started, I am working on a new collection, but I can’t talk about it yet because I’m in development mode and the whole thing could fall flat on its face, being totally different from anything I ever made before! Only time will tell, but hopefully COVID does the falling flat on its face and we all get to hang out together next year in Vegas!
Top: Jane Taylor and her daughter Cleo, both of Jane Taylor Jewelry (all photos courtesy of Jane Taylor Jewelry)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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