October of 2008 was when it hit me. That was when I knew it was gonna be bad. Yes, I’m referring to the Great American Recession. Nobody knew how to navigate that mess, but somehow a bunch of us made it out on the other side. I was at the SJTA Show in Atlanta recently and talk
ed to several people that, like me, somehow managed to survive the recession. I thought I’d write about some of what they had to say about business in 2013.
I spent some time at Honora Pearls and talked to Lloyd Berger and Erin Corey. Erin told me that they’ve shown many times at SJTA, but this show was especially good for them. They were able to sign up many new accounts and sales were strong. And that’s what we like to hear now, isn’t it?
Honora Pearls has some cool stuff going on I think you should know about. Honora does something that few, if any, other pearl supplier does. They actually advertise their brand to the general public, not just to the industry. They have a great national imaging campaign including Vogue and InStyle magazines to drive traffic to the stores that sell the Honora brand.
But what exactly is the Honora brand? Honora sells only the top 3% of the freshwater pearls that are produced in the Chinese freshwater pearl farms. Honora has relationships for ‘first pick’ of the harvest and they only choose the best of the best. Honora only chooses pearls that are blemish free with top luster. And, even though Honora sells the classic strands, these are not exactly your grandmothers’ pearls. In their new Madison Collection, Honora utilizes black mother of pearl doublets. To quote Erin, “We incorporate the hottest fashion trends into our collections, giving your customers a quality product, with a big look at an affordable price.”
One of the coolest things I liked though was their bridal gift sets for the bridesmaids. The bride can match the color of the bracelet/earring/necklace sets that the bridesmaids will wear to the wedding color scheme. Got to say, that’s a new one on me, but I really like it. Give Erin or Lloyd a call at 800-223-0440 and tell ‘em Chuck sent you.
I also liked what I heard at Presentation Box. This company has been around since 1974 and is a staple in our industry. Presentation Box makes all of the things that make our cases and our merchandise look good, both before and after the sale. Presentation is a one stop shop for all of your display and packaging materials.
Something I really liked was their two step approach to case displays. Their ‘express line’ is display basics in black, white, or beige, while their custom displays are available in all colors. Katie Jacques told me that most of her customers buy the express line to fill out their cases, but incorporate the custom pieces to add to the mix and make their cases ‘pop’. She told me that countless numbers of customers have told her that after redoing their showcases with the new displays, the jewelry was flying out the doors just because everything looked new and fresh.
One of Presentation’s clients is Jewelry By Design in Auburn, Alabama. Jewelry by Design has had the same bubble gum pink displays since they opened in 1995 (I once had those same displays). Since they are a custom and repair store like me, their main business is not selling out of the showcases. But, while making the transition from the old to the new, they sold 5 or 6 pieces out of the showcase while they were putting out the new displays. Sales manager Santana Flowers said their customers feel that they have all new merchandise and are really looking at individual pieces now as opposed to just skimming the showcase like they’ve done in the past. When I asked her if it was a good investment, she said, “Definitely!”
Another thing I like about Presentation Box is they are located in Rhode Island, and every time you place an order with them you are keeping those jobs right here in America. And we all know that to keep this recovery going, buying American is the smart move. And, for all of you big shippers out there, Presentation Box just purchased the Mason Box Company which is one of the largest ‘secure box’ manufacturers in the country. If you’re mailing valuable packages, Presentation has what you need, just call Katie at 800-556-7390, ext. 1206 and tell her I said hi!
And, as usual, Stuller brought their ‘A’ game to the show with their new Create Bar. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve got to go to their website and check it out. It’s an all-in-one CAD/CAM custom jewelry solution that they install in your store, complete with bar stools and furniture. With Create Bar, you and your customers can sit at the custom ‘Bar’ that has all of the essential products and pieces to create one-of-a-kind pieces on the included computer system. Stuller will then cast, clean, polish, set, and deliver to you the finished product - just like you and your customer designed. It’s a game changer for sure. The complete Create Bar sells for $29,500, and takes about 6-8 weeks to deliver. When you go to their website, at the bottom of the page, click on the ‘Download Component Sheet’ link, it lists everything that is included, and it’s pretty darned impressive.
But, what if you’re tight on space but you still want to get into CAD/CAM? Well, I talked to Gene Callaway at Southeastern Findings and he’s got just the solution for you - the Firestorm CAD system. With Firestorm there is no product or hardware to buy. You simply download the software for around $6,500 and then you’re on your way. This system comes pre-loaded with about 100 or so each of the most popular heads, shanks, and halo components that you and your customers can integrate into beautiful new designs. Gene told me that it takes most people about 3 weeks before they are ready to design custom pieces with their customer’s input. Within about 3 months, most people are able to modify the existing heads and shanks to create any custom piece they can imagine.
But, after you’ve created a piece with Firestorm, all you have is a computer file, not a finished ring. What happens next? With Firestorm, you can outsource as much or as little of the job as you choose. Yes, Southeastern Findings can take your computer file and mill your wax, cast your ring, set your stones and deliver the completed piece. But with Firestorm, you can use any vendor of your choice to do any of the above if you already have an existing relationship with someone you like. You can have one vendor mill the wax, one vendor cast the ring, and another set the stones. I liked it because I would need someone to mill the wax, but I’d like to do the casting and the setting myself. It’s very versatile. Call Gene at 800-282-8285.
I sat and watched Gene help a customer put together a piece in about 5 minutes and it looked really simple to do once you’re familiar with the program. And, let’s face it, CAD is the future and the Create Bar and the Firestorm system both looked like really good options to pursue.
But you want to know what I liked most about the show this year? ‘Mingle’. Libby and Carol and the Atlanta Jewelry Show gang did away with the big themed party on Sunday night and instead had a smaller, intimate gathering every night after the show, called Mingle, where all of the buyers and vendors could just…well, Mingle and have a drink and get to know each other better. I’ve got to say; I really, really liked that new twist on the show. And the free drinks weren’t bad either.
Well, if you look at your calendar you’ll see it’s about that time of the year again. I hope everyone has a great 4th quarter selling season this year!!!