News and Views from the 24 Karat Club Southeastern U.S.
My nephew is in the process of applying to some of those hyper-competitive colleges in the northeast, and the application requires an essay about a time he displayed real leadership. He is co-captain of the swim team, but other than that, there aren’t a lot of real opportunities for a 17 year old to display genuine leadership. Screaming at your team mates “Swim like you’ve never swam before” before a meet isn’t the type of stuff that gets you into the Ivy League these days.
But it did get me thinking about leadership and the retail jewelry business today. Even if you are a third generation jeweler, with the best location on Main Street, you are facing problems never seen before in our industry: record high metal prices, competition from the internet, customers who are over-leveraged and would rather visit the dentist than their jeweler, and long-time, valued suppliers who seem to have disappeared overnight, just to name a few (feel free to add your own personal list of worries).
Real leadership will be required to work through these problems as well as the ones just around the corner that we haven’t even anticipated. If you’ve been “doing it this way” in your store for the last 50 years or so, it may be time for a fresh approach to social and economic conditions that are much different now than they were in the 1960’s. And, that will take some brave and innovative leadership.
For example, what’s the latest trend in the retail jewelry industry today? According to The Wall Street Journal, its woman buying jewelry for themselves! Called “Just Becausers”, these are women aged 45 and older who are likely to buy a piece of jewelry for themselves, and for no particular occasion! So, if your store is set up as the traditional “men buying women gifts for their birthday, anniversary, and Christmas” model, it may be time for some creative thinking. It may take real leadership to adjust your message to encourage women to buy for themselves (they don’t need to go home and ask for permission anymore!).
Leadership is the fundamental quality binding the members of The 24 Karat Club. Comprised of forward thinking professionals, who give generously of their time and resources to advance the future of the jewelry industry, the club sponsors numerous scholarships to develop tomorrow’s jewelry leaders. We hope you’ll demonstrate leadership every chance you get, and take advantage of every opportunity to develop your leadership skills when you can.
Howard Kelrick is President of Finger Mate and a board member of The 24 Karat Club. Finger Mate manufactures and installs expandable ring shanks and sells to retail jewelers throughout North America.
Contact Howard at 954-458-2700 or e-mail Howard@FingerMate.com