Innovative Retailer Mary Leipertz Is the Hostess With the Mostess

Mary Leipertz of Virginia’s Carreras Jewelers is a party-thrower extraordinaire

carreras jewelers estate engagement ring
Estate-look engagement ring with 0.42 ct. bezel-set rose-cut diamond and 0.25 ct. t.w. bezel- and channel-bead-set round diamonds

Richmond, Va., is a small city full of residents who appreciate fine art and design—plenty have even studied the subjects extensively. Top-rated Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts is ­located in town, as is the esteemed Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Fifty-year-old jewelry boutique Carreras Jewelers fits right in among the creative environs. The retailer ­specializes in gorgeous estate and vintage jewelry, and is owned by art teacher turned jeweler Rejena Carreras (the business was founded by Carreras’ husband, the late William Carreras, in 1967).

The shop is also known for its genuinely fun, out-of-the-box public relations events, all of which are spearheaded by the company’s marketing and event director, Mary Leipertz. Recent gatherings at Carreras have included spirited soirees for local bloggers and social media influencers and a series of “mini markets,” where local female business owners sell their products—anything from makeup to massage services—as one-day guests of the store.

Leipertz says the ongoing lineup of events is a low-cost, ­high-entertainment way to drum up press and exposure and ultimately “connect with a community we’re really proud to be a part of.”

mary leipertz outsideDescribe your blogger/influencer parties and how they came to be.
We started working with a local style blogger and influencer Megan Wilson (@SweetSauceBlog)—we were putting a $50 ad each month on her blog. Also, she would come in and pick out a couple of jewelry pieces each month, then create an outfit with that jewelry and post it to Instagram. It turned out she was in a networking group for bloggers in Virginia. So we invited the bloggers to come to a party; we sent out digital invites that were from myself and Megan. We want these events to be really fun. We have food and cocktails. At the first party, we had this really great photo booth—bloggers were dressing themselves up and jumping into the photo booth and posting photos on social. We also had a rep from designer India Hicks’ bag collection join us. And we’re next door to a hair salon called Mango, and they sent two to three people over to do quick updo styles for the guests.

What major benefits do you gain from influencer/blogger events?
They’re really PR events; they’re about getting our name out to the movers and shakers in our area. Also, I think that we gain exposure to a younger audience. And we get to show the fun side of our store. Sometimes people are timid to come into a fine jewelry store—they think it’s going to be stuffy or too expensive. We have such a wonderful staff, and everyone’s superfriendly, so we like being able to show that.

carreras jewelers estate spray brooch
Contemporary estate 14k yellow gold spray brooch with 1 ct. t.w. round sapphires

How did you come up with the idea for the small business mini markets you’ve been hosting all summer?
There’s a Facebook page called Boss Babes RVA. It’s a group for entrepreneurial and business-minded women in the Richmond area. It’s a great networking site and a place where women support other women. Being a woman-owned business, it was natural that we joined the group. I put it out there on the site that we have a storefront and that we’d be willing to offer our space to women in the group who don’t. The response was amazing. I had 60 people who said they wanted to do it. I had to randomly choose the people who are showing from a hat! We lined up two businesses to showcase every Tuesday this summer, from June through August. There’s a woman who sells antiaging ­products, another who offers Richmond bike tours and rentals—it’s all kinds of things. We promote the small ­business mini markets on Instagram, Facebook, through email blasts, and on our website. And the women do the same, which is huge! And it doesn’t cost us a thing.

What advice do you have for jewelry marketing and event execs?
When thinking about an event, think about the experience people are going to have during the event. The jewelry will always be there, and people will naturally be drawn to it. But I think you have to make it more of an experience-driven event rather than something that’s all about sales.

(Photography by Johnny Fogg; hair & makeup: Chelsea Ireland for Ozzy and Squish Salon; location: Upper Shirley Vineyards; jewelry: Wendell Powell Studio)

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