Because Carinthia Kishaba, owner of Couture Rocks in Southlake, Texas, sells fine jewelry out of a by-appointment showroom and her home, she relies on her clients—not foot traffic—to spread the word on her business.
“We pay our clients to bring us new clients,” says Kashiba, explaining, “When you refer someone, we give you what we call Couture Cash. You get $100 in Couture Cash every time your referral turns into a sale. You can turn it in for pure cash for a year, but you can use it to put toward a purchase [indefinitely]. My clients are kind of like my employees, and this actually helps us keep our prices down! It’s also just fun.”
We asked Kashiba to dish on some of her most memorable moments as a retailer.
Photograph by Terri Glanger
JCK: What one advertisement or promotion elicited the biggest response, and why do you think it worked?
We just started a new promotion for social media where if you see something on our Facebook page and you share it with a friend who ends up buying it, we pay you 5 percent of the total sale.
What has been your biggest challenge, and what have you done to resolve it?
Probably I have been my biggest challenge. Your business is you. I love the design aspect of jewelry and putting cases together. Being in sales for me was kind of a hurdle. I don’t like pushy sales people; it makes me uncomfortable. So I did a Winslow Assessment [a test that assesses personality traits]. It breaks down everything about you…what you think you’re good at, and what you’re really good at. Then it gives you tools for how to overcome it. I’ve learned to sell better. But it’s definitely a work in progress.
What has been your most memorable sale?
LifeGem memorial diamonds makes gemstones out of [cremated ashes]—there’s enough carbon in our bodies to make a 1 carat diamond. I was working with a couple whose son had died of cancer and they chose to create a LifeGem diamond. It turned out beautifully, with a yellowish tint. We haloed it. The brilliance of their diamond reflected the light in their son. It still makes me tear up.
What’s the best idea you’ve ever come up with for your store?
The name. I love that it’s a double entendre. We’re highly involved in fashion locally—I’m on the board of Fashion Guild International here in Dallas and we really do sell fine couture rocks. As far as branding, it’s been brilliant. We do T-shirts that we bling out with a local company that everyone loves.
How do you differentiate your store from the competition?
We are really focused on who we are. We stick to what we know. I know there are lots of people who fill up their store with eight million things. We are very streamlined—we keep our inventory low. If you only have a certain number of pieces to choose from, it makes life easier for everyone. We do limited edition and extremely unique pieces. Our tagline is “Setting today’s trends for a timeless tomorrow.” We want you to invest in things you’ll wear forever and pass on.
I also want everyone to know we are a luxury charity brand. Our huge thing is constantly giving back. We find out what charities our clients are involved in, and we try to get involved if we can. Ultimately, I want to be known everywhere. The little blue Tiffany box? I want everyone to know the pink and black Couture Rocks box. I want to be a household name.