Jewelers, Gig Economy Class Is In Session!



Give yourself a hand—literally. here’s how jewelry retailers can tap into the booming gig economy.

In preparing to move and rebrand his Naperville, Ill., jewelry store this year, Kevin Lydon leaned into the swelling so-called gig economy for a helping hand.

Lydon, who changed the name of his 16-year-old jewelry store from The Diamond Gallery to The Diamond Studio, posted a call for a new logo and signage ideas on Crowdspring, an online marketplace for crowdsourced creative services. Within days, he received multiple submissions from more than a dozen designers around the world.

“That’s just not something I could effectively get if I stayed local,” Lydon says. “I was able to throw this request out into the world and get a lot of interesting concepts back from people really on their game.”

Reviewing his options, Lydon selected a designer based in Romania. For $300, she crafted a logo to Lydon’s liking before the veteran jewelry retailer tapped her for additional projects, including his new store’s letterhead and business cards.

“It’s been a rather seamless, easy process and one that’s resulted in some great work we’re really proud of,” says Lydon, who frequently farms out creative projects to external partners with the expertise and time to produce professional designs.

According to reports from the McKinsey Global Institute, the Freelancers Union, and management services provider MBO Partners, roughly 25%–30% of the U.S. workforce participates in the gig economy, the nontraditional, flexible, freelance-style work popularized by companies such as Uber, Rover, and DoorDash. Many economists expect these numbers could accelerate amid the economic struggles and rising unemployment spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much has been made of the gig economy’s effect on the labor market—specifically, how its ascent has challenged small-business owners’ ability to attract and retain talent. But the gig economy also boasts the potential to help these entrepreneurs, including jewelry retailers, gain time, access skills not present in their internal workforce, and overcome a lack of resources to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

“Small-business owners can leverage crowdsourcing and the gig economy to stand above the crowd,” says Ross Kimbarovsky, who founded Crowdspring in 2007 and remains its CEO.

Crowdspring hosts more than 220,000 creatives from nearly 200 countries. They produce a range of deliverables, such as custom logo design, packaging graphics, taglines, company naming services, and product design, including jewelry.

As the gig economy continues to infiltrate all facets of contemporary life, it presents jewelry retailers with an opportunity to use freelancers to their personal and professional advantage. Read on for some ways to tap into this fast-growing segment.

For Professional Services

Upwork, which bills itself as “the largest and most trusted freelancer site,” features a deep bench of talent across various disciplines. Need a social media ­manager? Check. A search engine optimization expert? Check. A web designer? Check. Beyond Upwork, Freelancer offers another robust option where business owners can find giggers experienced in areas such as website development, content writing, digital marketing, search engine optimization, bookkeeping, and e-commerce.

For Your To-Do List

At TaskRabbit, retailers can hire vetted people to tidy up a shop’s exterior, build furniture, plant flowers, pick up dry cleaning, complete handyman-like repair projects, or tackle any number of routine yet time-consuming tasks lingering on a store’s to-do list.

For Your Creative Needs

Fiverr has emerged as a popular platform for those in need of graphic designers for logos, brochures, or postcards and other creative content, even jingles. Crowdspring is another go-to source for creative talent, especially in the areas of branding and identity, product design and packaging, and web and mobile design.

For Tech Know-How

While Fortune called HelloTech a “bolt-on Geek Squad,” it might be just as easy to think of the Los Angeles–based company as Uber for information technology support. Workers across the country will report to an on-site location to tackle any number of tech-related tasks, such as repairing computers, setting up a Wi-Fi network, mounting a television, or installing a smart device.

For a Set of Helping Hands

Fancy Hands is an on-demand virtual assistant. Users can send in a request—research phone company rates, set up a conference call, or find local window-cleaning services, for example—and Fancy Hands’ U.S.-based team of assistants perform the necessary work and supply results.

For Legal Assistance

LawTrades matches business owners to freelance attorneys capable of addressing an assortment of legal issues such as trademarks, patents, employment contracts, and independent contractor agreements.

For an Added Punch of Income

With the gig economy, business owners can also create new income streams by leveraging underutilized resources. On platforms such as SpotHero and Pavemint, for instance, retailers can rent out unused parking spaces, which are valuable slabs of real estate in some urban areas.

(Illustration by Bratislav Milenković)