Designers, marketers, journalists, and retailers discuss the best ways to cater to this ever-expanding market

How the industry can (and must) embrace same-sex couples was the topic of a lively Thursday panel.

JCK publisher Mark Smelzer moderated the discussion, which featured Andy Whittaker, director of market insights at WeddingWire; founder Stacy Stahl; Out publisher Greg Brossia; jewelry designer Rony Tennenbaum; and Alexis Padis, director of operations at Padis Jewelry.

Panelists agreed that one of the most crucial things retailers can do to welcome LGBTQ couples is to avoid assumptions.

“A same-sex couple being asked if they are sisters or asking a gay couple if they meant to order two men’s rings is really devastating,” said Whittaker. “Ask open questions, like, ‘What is your vision for your ring?’”

And all agreed that advertising yourself as a safe space for gay couples is vital.

“Become a part of the community,” said Padis. “It’s a donation to an organization that supports gay people. It’s your normal ad in a gay magazine.”

Other suggestions: promotions during pride week—though all concurred that rainbow jewelry need not be advertised (“A rainbow ring to me is equivalent to a red, white, and blue ring,” said Tennenbaum); same-sex couples in regular ads; a rainbow decal on your door.

“The number of same-sex marriages is only going to increase,” said Brossia. “This industry needs to address us, period. If you don’t, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

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