JCK Las Vegas 2015 brought about many exciting introductions, especially with thoughtful retailers. One of my favorite exchanges was with the owners of Vail, Colo.–based Squash Blossom, John and Patti Cogswell (pictured, right). They were down-to-earth, positive, energetic, and extremely supportive of emerging talent. Case in point: They really came to see my mentor, Lori Gadola of Kelim Jewelry, but we got to talking and they wanted to know more about my plans and how they could be of service. It was very flattering to have such knowledgeable jewelry gurus take time out of the show madness to learn more about me, but that is at the heart of why they are so successful. They have discovered and fostered many a designer new to the scene, which creates harmony for budding talent and their clientele alike.
Who is your favorite designer right now and why?
John Cogswell: Rebecca Overmann. This is a relatively new line to the gallery. We love the diversity in the line, ranging from bridal to fun everyday earrings, but it becomes even more enthralling when we discovered that it was handmade in San Francisco. We were also delighted to discover that Ms. Overmann is actively involved in the ethical goldsmithing movement. Our customers share our sentiments, and it’s done very well. Her aesthetic allows for styling both casual or dressy. Additionally, it is a line that has a distinct look but continues to evolve over the seasons, allowing her fan club not to get bored with the collection. The price points are great for our audience, and we’re grateful that she is open to creating custom work as well.
The Ayesha Mayadas case
Who is a designer to watch?
Cogswell: Ayesha Mayadas. We just brought her work into the gallery, and everyone on the staff is already pining for some of her pieces. Our customers are very impressed by her bold designs and the attention to detail given to her creations. She was a textile engineer in a former life, and she has embedded a fabric-like texture into her metal surfaces that keeps the designs bold yet light. Her strong metalsmithing skills are evident through her clever clasps and closures, along with how well earrings lay in relation to the wearer’s face.
The Nina Nguyen case
Could you explain your merchandising strategy in broad strokes and how that includes the studio jeweler?
Cogswell: We strive to find new and up-and-coming artists who are creating pieces with a unique and one-of-a-kind aesthetic. Our customers are looking for us to show them jewelry that they cannot find anywhere else. Once we find a designer we feel strongly about, we get behind them and like to continue to support them through the trajectory of their studio growth by inviting them to participate in trunk shows and special events that connect them directly with our clients. We promote our unique designers through a variety of sources: our website, social media, TV advertising, and print media, which reaches our national clientele.
The Gurhan case
What are some things you’d like to see changed within the trade-show format?
Cogswell: We would love to see larger up-and-coming designer sections. It would be great to have a separate rising star section that would facilitate seeing this type of work in one section of the show. We always feel food options are lacking at these trade shows. You get really hungry being on your feet all day looking for new work! Having some amazing and healthy food choices to refuel during a full day of buying would be amazing!
The Todd Reed case
How do you contribute to the jewelry community?
Cogswell: We contribute to the jewelry community through supporting emerging jewelry designers and informing our customers about the beauty and value of handcraftsmanship. We feel very strongly about selling from an education-based standpoint, so we are always teaching our clients about the details that make each designer’s work unique. Our clients appreciate this greatly, especially knowing that their pieces are handmade and are often handcrafted using ethically sourced materials. People are a lot more conscientious about their purchases these days, and we find the majority of our clients are excited to support individual artists. We are always thrilled to give them plenty of opportunities to see new ones!
The Colorado Springs and Vail locations
Why are you excited to come to JCK Tucson?
JCK Tucson is always a relaxed and fun show at a point in the year when we can really use a break from the chilly Colorado winters. We are jewelry addicts, so we are excited to experience some up-and-coming designers through the JCK Design Center!