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A Chance Meeting Launches Marci Bailey’s Career

North Carolina jeweler found all she needed at GIA.

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A Chance Meeting Launches Marci Bailey’s Career

A chance meeting with a jewelry designer on the subway led Marci Bailey, who was in high school at the time, to realize that her jewelry obsession had career potential. The designer, who suggested Marci look into a GIA education, was sketching a ring for a client. “Fireworks went off in my head!” she recalls. She took the advice, enrolling in GIA as soon as possible. “Everything about GIA was amazing: the people, relationships, instructors, and what I learned. Obviously, I met my husband there, which was not part of my plan.” Today, Marci and Trey Bailey own Bailey’s Fine Jewelry in North Carolina and have three children. Marci also founded a curated website, marcillabailey.com, to appeal to young women. Marci finds inspiration in, among other things, flowers, including the bountiful hydrangeas in her yard, which she shares with family, friends and co-workers.

PERFECT DAY OFF. My feet in the grass with a book. I would lock my phone away. Pretty simple. Truly, just to be by myself with a book in the sunshine.

BEST ADVICE. My parents said, ‘You need to figure out what you are passionate about, and you can build a career around it. What rings your chimes?’ For me, it was always jewelry.

HAVE FUN. I try not to take myself or what we’re doing too seriously. Because it’s fun, but a lot of times we feel customers are spending a lot of money, and we need to be buttoned up and serious about it. At least with younger women, that’s not what they’re looking for.

YOUNG WOMEN. They’re always my favorite demographic. They do their research, and they’re not looking for someone to tell them what they need. I’m not a super detailed salesperson, but I find it’s rarely the detail they want. I focus on how an item can meet their needs: versatility, what they currently have, and building value.

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Online Extra: Q&A with Marci Bailey

Q. How has Marcilla Bailey grown since you launched the site?

A. Initially, we targeted five different markets as a test. We knew from Bailey’s brand during COVID where we started to see online sales nationally, and we used that data as a test for this. Some of them were successful. A couple weren’t, which I still haven’t written off. It’s nice to have that data set to utilize. We didn’t even really talk about it locally. It took about six months, and I’d be out and about and I’d have people say, `Congratulations, I saw your website.’ It grew organically locally and a lot of our online purchases have been local purchases, which we did not expect at all. A lot of Bailey’s clients were seeing things through social media and reaching out to us, even if it was a crossover product. We were presenting it in a different way and targeting a different client, a younger self purchaser.

Q. You also opened a Los Angeles showroom for the Marcilla Bailey brand. How often are you there?

A. Just a couple times a year. The nice thing is we have somebody there full-time; I can do stuff remotely. Depending on the client and what they’re working on, I’ll do videos on that specific need. Such as yellow sapphire vs. yellow diamond. I can fire that off and answer questions accordingly. Then if we get another request for the same information, I already have a piece of content that I can send them.

Q. What’s different about selling to young women?

A. They’re always my favorite demographic to sell to. They know what they want, they do their research, and they’re not looking for someone to tell them what they need. It’s more like listening, and I’m not a super detailed salesperson. But it’s rarely the detail that they want. I try to focus on how this can meet their needs: versatility, what they currently have, and building value.

Q. What advice do you have for other retailers approaching this demographic?

A. Not being too serious. This is my 20th year now since I went to GIA, and there’s still a level of formality in the jewelry industry. I try not to take myself or what we’re doing too seriously. Because it’s really fun, but a lot of times we feel they’re spending a lot of money, and we need to be buttoned up and serious about it. At least with younger women, that’s not what they’re looking for.

Q. When you’re not in a brick and mortar, how do you build that level of trust?

A. What I’m finding is that even though I don’t have a personal one-on-one relationship with them, they feel that they have that relationship because they feel they know me [from blogs and videos.]

Q. Is there a presence for your curated Marci Bailey collections in the brick and mortar locations?

A. We haven’t branded it per se. I did do a trunk show locally at a fun boutique. I had low expectations, but it really ended up being so much better and bigger than I expected. We’re starting to talk about what that can look like and how we can incorporate that into our brick and mortars. I think it would be pretty easy to implement. We have 11 jewelers in store, and so I’m working on some fun projects, which we would have just launched through Baileys, but we’re going to release it on Marcilla first and then put it into Bailey’s.

Q. Is there a difference between what your national audience buys and your local shoppers?

A. I haven’t noticed that online, but when we did our in-person trunk show it was different. It’s a pretty consistent price point online if you’re talking nonbridal. Under $1,000 retail diamond fashion. When we did our trunk show, I assumed it would fall in line with what we’re selling online, and it ended up being a higher price point and a lot more color. Maybe color translated better in person.

Q. What inspires or motivates you?

A. That changes day to day. I love to read, I read a lot, and I like to spend time outside. That refuels my tank. And then there are our clients. It’s amazing how often we’ll get requests or hear common themes about what women are looking for. New pieces are coming from that—necklaces, specifically. Three styles and a tie-in across the collection from a theme standpoint. And a customizable feature.

Q. How do you find a work/life balance?

A. I don’t think there is one. And I also think as women we put too much pressure on ourselves, and I’m guilty of that, too. People suggest having a specific planner or time blocking your day. None of that works for me. If inspiration strikes and I’m feeling excited about something, that might mean that’s what I do during the day and whatever the family needs will come later. It’s sloppy and chaotic and fly-by-the seat of the pants; there’s definitely no magic solution or anything. I have my weekly set of things I do with Bailey’s that is more structured. And I do have the luxury of deciding the rest of my time. I try to recognize that that is unusual and I’m lucky to have it. I’m not a super disciplined person.

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Q. Do you have a favorite travel destination?

A. It has to be warm. And it has to be sunny. We spend every summer on Nantucket. From a sentimental point that is my happy and sentimental place. But if it’s just Trey and I, we want to go south.

Q. What do you like about North Carolina?

A. What’s not to like about it? The weather. It’s a great place to raise a family. I grew up in Seattle, and I don’t take the sunshine here for granted. From a business standpoint, our market is booming and that affords us a lot of great opportunities.

Q. How do you engage your clients at Bailey’s?

A. We’ve been doing tailored experiences. People can buy from anyone, but, especially higher end clients, they want an experience. Part of that is face time. We’re having a garden party with a chef and wine makers, a fun outdoor wine dinner in our garden for 12 clients. A couple are good clients, a couple are mid-level but could be elevated, and a couple we’re extending an invitation in hopes we can bring them into the fold.

Q. What would be a perfect day off?

A. My feet in the grass with a book. Not my phone. I would lock my phone away. Pretty simple. And truly just to be by myself with a book in the sunshine.

Q. What do you regularly do for yourself?

A. I turned 40 last year and I thought I need to prioritize health. I’m very disciplined with pilates several days a week. I take time on Monday and Wednesday for pilates. That’s non-negotiable. I don’t book anything.

Q. What led you to a career in jewelry.

A. My mom’s mom was always a jewelry lover. Early on my earliest memories were of that. Dad worked in oil and traveled in the Middle East a lot. When he came home, he would bring my mom all kinds of cool stuff, jewelry and gem specimens. It always intrigued me. My parents said, `You need to figure out what you are passionate about, and you can build a career around it. What rings your chimes?’ For me, it was always jewelry. When I was in high school, we took a trip to D.C. I was sitting next to a jewelry designer on the subway, who was sketching a ring on graph paper. I asked her about what she was doing and we started talking. She said `I’m designing a ring for a client.’ I said, `Is that what you do for work? You can do that as a job?’ Fireworks went off in my head. She said I would recommend you go to GIA. I was just like OK. And when we got off the subway, I told my dad `I know what I’m going to do.’ I didn’t know what GIA was. I just knew, this is what I’m doing. And I went home and researched it. And I went to GIA, kind of like blindly. I had no connections in the industry. Several of my friends worked at stores in high school, and I couldn’t work because I was Canadian. I had absolutely no experience at all. But it was immediate. I was obsessed. I would get every trade magazine, everything I could get my hands on, and cut pictures out of jewelry that I thought was pretty. I created giant scrapbooks out of all this stuff and put it in clear sleeves. GIA was amazing. Everything about it was amazing: the people, relationships, instructors, and what I learned. Obviously, I met my husband there, which was not part of my plan.

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