As one of the top moving destinations for millennials, you would expect Denver to be a bustling place with no shortage of entertainment, restaurants, and cool shops—and it is. But Goldyn, the Denver-based retailer that thrives on emerging designers and carefully curated stock, already knew that—and well before a new generation started moving to its city. Originating as an online-only retailer in 2007, the boutique opened its brick-and-mortar location in 2011 (a bit of a reversal of some retailers as of late, eh?). But it’s using that retail space for more than just sales, playing host to its community with monthly events that bring residents and tourists alike through its doors.
Speaking of sales: Though the store offers everything from clothing to home goods, it’s important to note its array of featured jewelry designers, too. From names such as Anna Sheffield, Bing Bang Jewelry, and Wwake, to lesser-known, emerging designers that I’m anxious to explore, Goldyn’s jewelry selection does not leave you wanting. Since the retailer started out online, it seemed only natural to ask the opinion of its owner and creative director, Vanessa Barcus, on all things social. Let’s jump in.
How does your Denver location influence your social style?
Vanessa Barcus: Honestly, our social media following includes customers from all over the country, so I wouldn’t say that being in Denver necessarily influences my social style. However, I do like to add a little bit of a personal element into our posts to keep it more interesting and real; you’ll see lots of visits to Denver locations since there is so much to see and do here—whether it’s a trip to the mountains or to Red Rocks Amphitheater. Plus, we really like to support our local friends here, so I’m always posting about Denver designers, Denver bands, Denver artists, and so on.
You offer a ton of cool products—some of which are jewelry. There are also amazing items of clothing, accessories, and objects for the home. How do you decide which get the most screen time? Do you have a strategy as to what you share and when?
Barcus: Believe it or not, most of what we sell is jewelry—followed very closely by clothing—so those are the two primary categories we feature. In terms of what I choose to feature specifically, it comes from a more authentic place than strategically trying to feature something most of the time. I feature things I am in love with when they arrive because I want to share the beauty we have in here! It’s as simple as that. The only time it’s more strategic is when we’re maybe having a sale or an event. I think if your feed is too contrived it shows, and I like to do things from the heart.
You recently celebrated 10 years—congratulations! Did you implement a particular social media strategy to celebrate?
Barcus: Thank you! We had such a fun celebration! We’re pretty events-centric here at the shop, so we decided a big blowout party with all our friends was in order. In terms of social media promotion, that included lots of posts leading up to the event, each spotlighting the bands, performance art group, and the other collaborators who took part in the event with us. I made a Spotify playlist of the bands who were playing the party, with a little write-up about each one on our blog, for instance. We always like to collaborate with bloggers and other public figures, so we did some creative copromotions with other social media personalities, too. The beauty of having other artists and brands collaborate with you is that they’ll post it to their followers as well. That being said, like I mentioned above, all of our social media promotions come from a more authentic place than someone just sitting at a desk scheduling posts out on a calendar. I love everyone we worked with, and I wanted to promote them for their sake, too. It’s not contrived, and I think our audience generally knows and appreciates that.
Photo by Kristen Sink
As I understand it, Goldyn was an online boutique for about four years before opening a brick-and-mortar store in 2011. Given today’s retail climate, can you comment on what it’s like owning a storefront business versus solely an online presence?
Barcus: Yes, it was definitely a different environment then than it is now! It’s much harder to be online as a little shop these days as there’s way more competition, yet at the same time, many brick-and-mortar retail giants are closing their doors because of competition from online sources. Retail is changing, as it should—many of those old retail giants were offering the same mass-produced brands that you can get anywhere. It’s not necessarily special. Why would you bother leaving your computer for that? I think consumers these days, at least in the luxury segment, increasingly want unique artisan wares that have a story behind them. For me personally, I think having both brick-and-mortar and online is important, but you have to expect to do some work to get clicks online, and I’d say that if you aren’t in a pretty specific niche with some unique brands, it’s going to be pretty hard to stand out online no matter how hard you try.
Any advice for retail jewelers struggling to keep up with the current market trends—in both sales and social media?
Barcus: Travel, get inspired, meet interesting people who intrigue you. Read and pay attention to everything around you. Learning is everywhere. If you’re not good in a particular role, such as sales or social media, then be self-aware enough about that to hire someone with that particular skillset for that role.
What is your favorite social media platform for business?
Barcus: Instagram, by far. I’m a visual person, and I think most people who are very interested in fashion and design feel the same.
First site you check in the morning?
Barcus: I try not to look at a computer screen or even my phone screen too much when I first get up—I’d rather be meditating or doing yoga. It is all about balance. But when I do look at the screen, once I get to work, realistically I’m probably on Instagram or Facebook to see what my friends are up to (“friends” meaning creative friends who make art, music, etc.), and then I’m looking at the local event listings to see what’s happening.
Your feelings on Pinterest: Do you use it? If yes, in what capacity?
Barcus: Yes, I use it mainly for my own inspiration and to gather my thoughts creatively (i.e., making mood boards and such). I pin what inspires me, mixed in with some of my favorite product that’s at the shop, since I know there are some followers on there, too.
Snapchat or Instagram Stories?
Barcus: Our core demographic is age 30-plus, so I stick with Instagram Stories. Plus, I think Instagram Stories may make Snapchat obsolete anyhow.
Photo by Kristen Sink
Earlier this year, Goldyn put on a fashion show in collaboration with the Denver Art Museum—serious eye candy. What influences did you use to put together the looks? Did social media come into play at all during your planning?
Barcus: That was such a fun, special event to get to do. The fashion show was a celebration honoring the Museum’s Shock Wave exhibit on groundbreaking Japanese fashion designers in the ’80s and ’90s, so needless to say those designers were the influence behind the looks we chose, as well as the choreography and other elements of the event. We do carry a few Japanese designers at Goldyn, so they were the focus of what we pulled from. Given that we were showcasing new Japanese fashion, though, we wanted some elements of the event to speak to current Japanese culture, so that was reflected in things such as the high-tech interactive art installation our friend Cacheflowe did. I did use Pinterest and social media to pull inspiration for the hair and makeup team, as I always do. Pinterest is such a great resource for that. And generally speaking, social media is kind of always just woven into everything we do. It’s a voyeuristic eye into everything Goldyn. So leading up to the event, I posted a lot about the exhibit itself, about the designers we’d be featuring in the show, about the other collaborators in the event. And then, of course, we always do posts during the event and post-event, usually recapping or with crowd photos.
What are your five favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
Your social media pet peeve?
Barcus: I’m such a spelling nut. This goes for text messages or emails too, but please do not mix up their, they’re, and there. Drives me crazy. I also can’t stand people who post too many selfies, but I might be more alone in that!
Photo by Kristen Sink
(Top: Vanessa Barcus; Photo by Charles Hildreth)