In today’s tough economic times retailers and jewellery manufacturers are looking for an edge. What is needed is innovation and an injection of something creative into the business. However, tell many retailers to get creative, to freshen things up, and you will watch a look of dread creep over their faces. Often we find ourselves wanting and looking for change, but that change eludes us.
One source of change can come from a section of the industry that is often viewed as ‘alternative’, an area many out of town jewellers struggle to fully understand. The designer maker, I believe, holds a key to great innovation in any local jewellery market.
If retailers have taken on designer jewellers, they have often remained at the fringes of the display. By introducing the work of designer makers into a jewellery retailer, you are able to strike the perfect balance between showing more unusual or adventurous pieces in a more commercial setting, as quite often these pieces may only be seen in ‘gallery’ type shops where the emphasis is not on selling, but more viewing jewellery.
The retailer has much to benefit from this relationship, as not only do they access a source of creativity that they might not have exposure to (let’s face it trawling around international jewellery shows, looking for ‘the usual’, whatever that may be, is hardly inspirational), but they have an opportunity to create a relationship with a supplier that is actually passionate about what they do. This passion can be used to drive sales, which is let’s face it what we’re interested in.
Designers care more about their work, they take more time to make it, often have a story behind it, will often make one offs and their pieces of jewellery will generally be handmade from start to finish. In today’s economic climate, unique, handmade, locally made, inspired by, exclusive are all key selling terms and there is a flourishing source of home grown designers willing to go the extra mile to build their name and satisfy their customers.
The designers have a responsibility here too. Designer pieces are going to be harder to sell, let’s face it. You will have to work hard not only making the piece and giving it some commercial appeal, but you also have to give the retailer the tools to sell it; your story so that they can sell with confidence. If you’ve flown half way around the world to source your own stones that give you the inspiration, say so. If you use shapes that relate to something in nature, the person selling your jewellery needs to know that. If all your materials are ethically sourced – and you can prove it, do so. You’ll need your press pack, and resume (just a background and any awards you might have won) to give yourself credibility.
The designer jeweller needs to give the retailer confidence. Apart from the story, there also needs to be an element of flexibility. I am not one for sending things out on sale or return, but you don’t want the retailer to feel they might get stuck with something. To this end you offer a flexible exchange policy for certain items.
Promoting designer jewellery in a jewellery retail setting has to be to everyone’s advantage. But it takes effort to sell by the retailer and effort to support the retail sale by the designer. These efforts will pay dividends for both as this is what the consumer is looking for today.
Please let me know how you have succeeded and where you have faltered in promoting the sale of design led jewellery.