Rapaport Magazine

Daring to be different

The one-year-old Tiny Gods boutique has made a name for itself by expanding the jewelry horizons of its clients in Charlotte, North Carolina.

By Joyce Kauf

Image: Tiny Gods

Opening a store comes with a lot of risk; launching a store during a pandemic involves a whole other set of challenges. But last month turned out to be a happy one-year anniversary for Mary Margaret Beaver, who opened Tiny Gods in Charlotte, North Carolina, around Thanksgiving 2020.

“It was really a celebration of my clients. I’m extremely grateful to them,” says Beaver, describing the party that lasted for several days. It was an occasion over 20 years in the making.

Having her own jewelry store hadn’t really crossed Beaver’s mind when she arrived in New York following her graduation from Duke University and began working at then-advertising giant J. Walter Thompson on De Beers’ “A Diamond Is Forever” account. While the experience proved to be the “best graduate program in jewelry,” she says, she returned to North Carolina with the intention of pursuing a career in marketing consulting.

After a chance meeting with a family acquaintance who owned a jewelry store, however, Beaver accepted a position working for him and stayed for the next two decades.

After about 10 years there, she began to think seriously about opening a store that would let her create her own brand. In 2019, she engaged a branding company to set the plans in motion, including deciding on a name.

“There was a lot of back and forth about what would best embody the brand,” she recalls. “I kept coming back to Tiny Gods.” While that name “felt like a risk at first,” she has found that it “resonates with clients and designers alike.”

Homage to history

For Beaver, the name connects the past and the present.

“Since ancient times, jewelry has served as a symbol of protection and power across all cultures,” she explains. “Tiny things can have huge significance because they are vessels of personal expression and symbols of love. Tiny Gods pays homage to the rich history of jewelry and how modern jewelry speaks to people. Jewelry stands the test of time.”

She believes jewelry empowers different people in different ways. “Whether it is to mark a milestone or is a family heirloom or even a talisman, jewelry gives people their own personal strength. Ethereal objects have the unique ability to channel energy and emotion into the everyday.”

She recognizes that jewelry “can be just fashion,” but more often than not, it is something much more meaningful for her clients — especially since the pandemic started. “It’s a gift of love, and not necessarily from a man to his wife or significant other, but can also be a woman buying for her mother or sister.”

Scouting talent

The process of selecting designers makes Beaver “really happy,” and she admits that she can spend hours looking through Instagram and magazines. Rather than apply a strict set of criteria, she is driven by her passion to find an undiscovered talent or someone who is new to her clients. “It’s much more what I am excited about, and the rest will come.”

Customers appreciate her sense of style. “We know that people tend to respond to the familiar,” says Beaver. Her selection has broad appeal across demographics, from teenagers to octogenarians.

Patrons are so taken with the designers she presents in the store that some women even send their spouses in without identifying a specific piece to buy, she relates. “We love wish lists, but it’s really a compliment that women have the confidence to tell their husbands, ‘Choose something unusual.’”

Even some of her most traditional clients are “stepping out of the box” — another result of Covid-19. “People are willing to take more chances,” observes Beaver. She is also encouraged by the growing number of women self-purchasers, many of whom were previously hesitant to buy jewelry for themselves — especially in the southeast. “On the flip side, they think nothing of buying themselves an expensive designer handbag.” She believes the De Beers campaign contributed to “women becoming so conditioned to thinking that jewelry had to be a gift of love, like an engagement ring. But that’s changing.”

Imaginative display

The idea that “even if jewelry is significant and meaningful, it doesn’t have to be serious” carries over to the eclectic décor at Tiny Gods, which welcomes clients the minute they step through the door.

A self-described lover of color, Beaver has built a vibrant, dynamic aesthetic in a retail space that coexists with an art gallery. The reception area is a symphony of style, from the glass table filled with butterflies and petals to the leopard-patterned seat cushion on the nearby chair.

The theme for the display cases revolves around a white, mid-century Italian desk that Beaver adored. She engaged a display company to recreate that desk and then incorporated its design elements into the fully custom cases, complete with functional drawers and gold fixtures. Rugs accented in pink, purple and orange complete the picture.

“Opening my own store has been liberating,” says Beaver. “There are things in life that have the highest risk yet often produce the highest reward — and not necessarily a monetary reward. Having a business that connects clients with meaningful and unusual pieces is something to celebrate.”


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

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Tags: Joyce Kauf