BaubleBar Tenders

You’ll get drunk on dazzle with the designs they serve up

The journey into jewelry retail typically begins with signing a lease and ends with launching an e-commerce site. But BaubleBar turned that trajectory on its ear by opening its first brick-and-mortar ­location nearly two years after debuting as an online-only boutique. Founded in 2010 by ­ex–financial analysts/Harvard Business School alums Daniella Yacobovsky (pictured, left) and Amy Jain (center), the fashion ­jeweler christened a 400-square-foot retail space on New York City’s 5th Avenue in October. The intimate outpost showcases the trend-right, pragmatically priced merchandise that’s made fashion-savvy shoppers swoon for BaubleBar. The store is attached to the company’s office, so it serves as a kind of testing lab, says Katharine Hill (right), director of offline. “We have members of the team working so they can hear feedback,” she adds. But more important: “We feel like we know the New York customer and wanted to provide a curated experience.”

Why open a physical retail space now?
Amy: To help round out customers’ experiences. Women have last-minute needs; with [the store] they don’t have to worry about the mailman.
Katharine: There’s a large product selection online, but in store you can cater to customers on a local level. We carry a high percentage of pavé-encrusted earrings and rings in the store because benefit season is big right now.

What’s the mission behind the BaubleBar brand?
Amy: Daniella and I saw a hole in the market for [well-priced] fashion jewelry. We were shopping for shoes at Saks one day and we realized we had no problem paying for shoes, but we never went downstairs and bought a statement necklace. It always came down to two things: value and selection. When we started, we quickly learned how much the category gets marked up. Retailers treat the category as an impulse purchase, so the selection is not great. If you fix that then strip out that markup, you have something.
Katharine: It’s affordable or acceptable luxury. There’s no one-stop shop for fashion ­jewelry…the equivalent of Sephora.

What’s BaubleBar’s merchandising approach?
Amy: Nontraditional. We have a team that constantly ­listens to the customer—through email, clicking ­behavior, social media—to [find out] what she’s looking for. We also have fashion and sourcing teams for understanding trends. We work with designers to create jewelry that answers those questions. Our price range is $20 to $300. We have a private-label business and a branded side where things are sold under designer partner names or partnership names. On the private-label side, we try to stick to an under-$100 price.

When designing the store, what ­elements were important?
Katharine: The jewelry really pops against white so the store is light and bright. There’s a marble-topped bar where we serve wine. Everything can be picked up, tried on.

Who is your core customer?
Katharine: We’re very popular [with]young professional women 25 to 35. College women love the jewelry; older women find it very playful and fun. It’s amazing—women can walk away with a statement necklace for around $40.

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