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America's Coolest Stores

ACS 2008: Fifth Place Small Cool, Kerry Catherine Jewelry



Kerry Catherine Jewelry

OWNERS: Charles David and Kerry Catherine
AREA: 2,400 square feet

Kerry Catherine Jewelry in Raleigh, NC, is the embodiment of warmth. From the glowing storefront and exotic wood interior to the personal relationship established with each customer, owners Kerry Catherine and Charles David have married art with gracious customer service. Catherine designs and crafts the jewelry, and her husband, David, designed and built the entire boutique store from the initial sketch on a napkin to installation of the mahogany front doors that bear their trademark “KC” that forms the handles. They consider the entire store a piece of art, and it is a welcoming backdrop for the Southern hospitality they extend to their ever-increasing clientele. “We feel the experience of shopping for beautiful jewelry begins when they see the store,” David says, “and ends when they no longer ‘sense the store.’ ”


Studio Tours

1Visitors can watch Kerry Catherine at work, designing and creating jewelry. The in-store, mezzanine studio where she and other artisans craft the trademark organic, free-flowing jewelry that Catherine describes as displaying “balanced asymmetry,” opens onto the store’s retail space and is available for tours. When clients with children visit the store, employees give the potential future customers a lesson on how jewelry is made. They’re invited to look through the microscope at a diamond or other gem for a “mineralogical and/or gemological” appreciation of the process


2Catherine often designs jewelry for individual customers’ social, political or charitable events and occasions, and she spends time getting to know the clients’ “lifestyle and sense of style.” She or other employees frequently design jewelry for an entire wedding party and often accompany brides to shop for their gowns, taking along several potential jewelry prototypes and working with the bridal-store staff to coordinate all elements of accessories and apparel.

Master Plan

3The store’s upfit was painstakingly planned by David, who incorporated natural elements into all design aspects. For lighting inspiration, the couple visited 35 jewelry stores on Fifth and Madison avenues, observing what the “expensive New York lighting designers” did in these stores and deciding which fixtures and lighting types worked best. They crafted a blend of types — over 400 lights in all — that highlight their jewelry in different, complementary ways. “The best lighting is a blend that makes jewelry ‘pop,’” David says. ” The store’s interior features exotic veneers for which David spent months searching. The floor is made from varying widths of hand-hewn Santos mahogany planks, and the natural-elements theme continues with a 42-foot gold-leafed barrel-vaulted ceiling and nine 5-foot imperial black granite stone slabs across the rear wall and the center dividing wall. The Marmorino texture, with fine marble dust stirred in, lends a subtle glimmer to the walls. The 9-by-3-foot hand-carved macassar mahogany front door, found in Mexico by Catherine and finished by David, features a bronze representation of their graphic logo that David created to function as both front door handles. “It’s the first thing they put their hands on when they enter the store,” he says. “Almost like the first piece of jewelry.”


In-House Ads

4With an advertising budget of only $10,000, the store’s photographic and direct-mail campaigns are done in-house. “There is always much energy, and we have a lot of fun staging our own photo shoots,” David says. They work with photographers who have had their portfolios nationally exhibited and recognized but who are also customers and friends. And, although they utilize one model (and friend) who was once represented by the Ford Agency, most of their models are “real people.”

Good Help

5Kerry Catherine’s owners place importance on the training and well-being of their employees. David and Catherine hire people who are “attentive, educated, professional and trustworthy” with a “positive demeanor and a desire for product knowledge or continuing education,” and then they create an employment experience that will foster passion for their jobs in the present and a lasting relationship in the future. They utilize creative management tools, including weekly staff meetings, which might include “Jewelry Jeopardy” or other sales or educational games. They sometimes have merchandising parties where everyone stays at the store into the night deciding what themes and pieces will work best in the ever-changing store window displays. But most of all, Catherine models customer-focused, individualized service for her sales staff. “We have been wildly successful because of our customer service,” David says. “The staff takes initiative from Kerry and how she meets with people, showing enthusiasm — there’s an instant trust factor. She leads by example.”

Cool Facts

• The store ended up with extra display space during the holiday season, so the couple donated space to Second Chance Animal Adoptions. The agency posted pictures of four-footed orphans in the store window, and more than 40 dogs and cats were successfully adopted.

• The bronze casts of the “KC” logo were created by an art student at East Carolina University. “The idea of offering the sculptural representation and creation of the actual casting job to someone more focused on art rather than the commercial aspect was appealing,” David says.

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• Staff members give gifts of carved gemstones or fossils to children who visit the store with their parents. Not only does this reinforce the lessons they may have learned in touring the studio, but it is a positive reminder to them — and in turn, Mom and Dad — of the pleasant experience they had in the store.



Amanda Gizzi
Trend Watcher

They have put together a great advertising program in-house. In addition to basics, they seem to understand and anticipate trends.

Kate Peterson
Management Consultant

In today’s market, you can’t survive for long without a very good, and very easy-to-access, website. If this store has one, I could not find it.

Bill and Sharon Blair
Assocation Heads


Kerry Catherine Jewelry has one of the most attractive exterior designs in the Cool Store contest, and their story makes it apparent that the real personality of the store is its staff.

Renee Singer
Jewelry Wholesaler

Creating a store brand and consistently maintaining it is part of what makes a store like Kerry Catherine cool. There’s big brand continuity with the use of the decidedly unique initial logo throughout the store. What a great idea to offer clients and their children tours of the studio workshop.

James Porte
Marketing Expert

I was impressed by the owners’ entrepreneurial spirit: uncompromising values, a vision and a mission to succeed. The store has a limited ad budget but uses it creatively. The store offers a beautiful interior and the product line is balanced, feminine and flowing. The store details are indeed impressive: intricate elliptical casework, front door handles, a wall panel system and more than 400 pieces of glasswork and metal hardware. I also like how the store is getting outside of its four walls to connect with the community.

Terry Chandler
Jewelry Educator

Dynamic and creatively distinctive! Space utilization is extraordinary, as the customer can hardly move without being introduced to yet another tasteful display. The exterior simply glows and begs you to come take a look.


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This story is from the August 2008 edition of INSTORE

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