Rapaport Magazine
Retail

Crafting solutions


Even a worldwide pandemic couldn’t dampen the creative spirit, but launching a collection during Covid-19 meant that jewelers — and their marketing consultants — had to be flexible. Here are three brands that made the most of it.

By Joyce Kauf


Girl Up Collection

Social responsibility is likely to resonate with consumers even more now than before the pandemic, and Girl Up Collection is tapping into that desire to do good.

“Girl Up Collection is female empowerment jewelry that gives back in real, tangible ways,” explains industry veteran Andrea Hansen. Hansen’s company, Luxe Intelligence, developed the brand for Uni Creation, which worked in partnership with Girl Up — a leadership development initiative by the United Nations Foundation to advance gender equality worldwide. In addition to an annual corporate contribution, Uni Creation has pledged 5% of all jewelry sales to support Girl Up’s programs.

“We’ve linked jewelry to advocacy,” explains fashion journalist Hal Rubenstein, Uni Creation’s creative director. Specifically targeting Generation Z and millennial customers, Girl Up’s collections feature pink and blue sapphires, ethically sourced diamonds and hand-cut gemstone beads in silver as well as yellow and rose gold. The designs draw on symbols such as the dove for peace, the globe for unity, the laurel leaf — representing both the foundation logo and Olympic champions — and stars. Other lines bear empowering names such as Fearless Girl.

“Travel restrictions and lack of in-person trade shows were the biggest challenges we encountered,” says Hansen. However, Girl Up launched this spring on the Macy’s website in time for Mother’s Day, as well as graduation and bridal season.

“Strategically, we opted to focus heavily on our digital presence by creating an e-commerce website and launching a blog to bolster search engine optimization. We also built our social media presence by partnering [with] and [giving gifts to] influencers to build buzz,” Hansen elaborates. She cites successful public relations efforts with partner Luxury Brand Group as well.

The wholesale line is available for distribution, and the brand is open to exclusivity arrangements with strategic retail partners. Uni Creations provides marketing materials, videos, testimonials, packaging, displays and point-of-sale assets, and retail partners can integrate virtual “try on” technology into their websites.
girlupcollection.com

Ananya

Ananya Malhotra already had a strong following in the Middle East for her handcrafted jewelry, with its vibrant palette of diamonds and colored gemstones. Yet even after working on projects with the UK’s Victoria and Albert Museum and creating a piece for Swarovski’s Runway Rocks fashion show, she still had a low profile among US retailers and influencers. For London-born, New York-based fine-jewelry consultant Francesca Simons, the challenge was to find the most effective launch venue to build brand awareness and drive sales for Ananya, which means “unique” in Hindi. Simons quickly realized that the prestige US retailers she was approaching were unwilling to provide the money and content necessary to support the brand.

“Ananya is not a brand for full consignment,” says Simons, who began her eponymous PR agency in 2016. “I then strategically made the decision to launch on Threads Styling due to their curated buys, their strength in the jewelry category, and their position as one of the top virtual selling platforms. As soon as the pandemic hit, I understood that brick and mortar would suffer tremendously, and digital was the only way to move forward and sell.”

Threads Styling, a personalized luxury service, sells via multiple media platforms, including Instagram, SnapChat and text. Simons felt its photo shoots, similar to print and online fashion magazines, would provide the optimal presentation for the jewelry. After conversations “at the height of the pandemic,” she says, Ananya made its Threads Styling debut on March 6 this year.

“We could not have been able to forecast this amount of success in just six weeks,” says Simons, citing sales of thousands of Chakra bracelets — the collection’s most popular item. Ranging in price from $3,000 to $7,500, the elasticized bracelets do not require sizing and are customizable as well as stackable. Each type of stone represents a healing property, which may have helped boost the bracelets’ sales. “A lot of people wanted meaningful jewelry at this time,” Simons comments.

“I wouldn’t do anything differently,” she adds, noting that the brand has generated interest in the US. Moda Operandi and Net-A-Porter have picked it up, as have two Goop stores — in Hawaii and in Sag Harbor, New York. The jewelry will also appear on the companies’ websites.
ananya.com

ParkFord

The Art Deco buildings of Chicago, Illinois, were the inspiration behind Revival, the latest fine-jewelry collection from local brand ParkFord. During the pandemic, Chicago native Jeanette Ford created a new line that paid homage to her city with a modern take on its architecture in colored gemstones. The collection launched in October 2020.

“Pandemic or not, there is always a question mark in your mind: ‘Is this the right time to launch?’” says business agent Jackie LeBental-Jones, who founded Barri Luxury Consulting in 2014 as a multi-channel platform to provide guidance to jewelry designers. ParkFord — which takes its name from the designer’s maiden and married names — is one of her clients.

An October introduction did not fit the traditional launch schedule, LeBental-Jones admits. But in “completely crazy 2020,” with no trade shows and no retail appointments, she understood that buyers wanted newness because “they were stuck home as well.” She capitalized on the fact that people were increasingly connecting on social media, even before Covid-19. A firm believer in intuition, she went into “go mode,” convinced that the brand was in a “good position” for an all-digital launch via her and Ford’s Instagram accounts, creative e-blasts to her curated group of retail buyers and editors, and the ParkFord website. Ahead of the launch, both women used their Instagram accounts for “sneak peeks that something new and exciting is coming.”

“Our objective was to show Revival as a link between the present and the past — a very modern collection ‘reborn’ with an Art Deco heritage,” says LeBental-Jones, adding that photography was essential to conveying the collection’s visual story. From a sales perspective, it was also important to emphasize the ability to customize the jewelry with birthstones to further a personal connection with the brand.

Still, she injected a note of realism, advising Ford to “minimize expectations.” Given the number of “incredible jewelry designers, it is always a challenge to create a long-term hold in the industry,” LeBental-Jones explains. In the end, “it really came together organically, but there is that moment just before you launch that you get butterflies in your stomach. We’re so grateful for the digital community’s support. In less than a year, we are in six retailers and so happy that people are wearing Jeanette’s jewelry.”
parkfordjewelry.com

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2021. To subscribe click here.

Comment Comment Email Email Print Print Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Share Share
Tags: Joyce Kauf
© Copyright 1978-2021 by Rapaport USA Inc. All rights reserved. Index®, RapNet®, Rapaport®, PriceGrid™, Diamonds.Net™, and JNS®; are registered TradeMarks.
While the information presented is from sources we believe reliable, we do not guarantee the accuracy or validity of any information presented by Rapaport or the views expressed by users of our internet service.