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ACS 2009: Third Place, Big Cool: Ylang | 23



Ylang | 23

OWNERS: Joanne and Charles Teichman
ARCHITECT: Brand + Allen, Darayus Kolah
INTERIOR DESIGNERS: Joanne and Charles Teichman with architect Darayus Kolah
TOTAL STORE AREA: 1,100 square feet

JOANNE AND CHARLES Teichman’s original business plan was fittingly bold for two young corporate high fliers in New York in the go-go ’80s: build up a jewelry store co-operative under the Ylang-Ylang brand, take the venture public, sell their interest and then use the proceeds to enjoy the good life. Instead, the Teichmans found that the good life was running just one store in which they could work together and indulge their passion for fine designer jewelry. “We just love what we do,” says Joanne. “We have a tremendous respect for how designers work from the heart. How they create what are essentially ‘snowflakes’; designs that can’t be duplicated, and partnering with them to introduce their work to our customers.” Now in its 24th year, Dallas-based Ylang | 23 has quietly built up a reputation as one of the top independent stores in the country for cutting-edge fine designer jewelry.

Five Cool Things About This Store

Sophisticated Remodel

1The Teichmans weren’t looking to remodel when the Cartier store next door vacated its space in 2004. Charles still wonders about the cost. But there are no such doubts about the end result. Neon lights in the ceiling bathe the store in a cool blue light. Light-colored wood cases and interior fixtures mark the store as friendly and modern. European touches like Italian tiles and mosaics on the counters and other spots add another level of sophistication. Joanne says her favorite additions were a back room and the powder room, which features a Lalique mirror titled “Les Causeuses,” or “The Gossipers.”

Designer Bets

2At the heart of Ylang | 23 is its collection of designer lines. In all, the works of more than 40 designers are featured. Joanne, who takes care of the buying, said she took some big bets this year in Vegas, with Charles’ nervous blessing. “We see this (the economic slump) as a market-building opportunity,” says Charles. “People still want to buy jewelry, they still want a pick me up. We’re determined not to get knocked off track.”

Fashionista Sympathizers

3Want to know which designers caused the biggest stir at Inhorgenta or who was wearing what on their wrist at Sundance? You’re in the right place. Ylang’s staff are fanatical about jewelry design and it is one of the first things the Teichmans look for when hiring, along with obvious smarts (two former employees have gone on to be doctors). An ability to relate to the store’s “fashionista” customers is crucial as are workers who take satisfaction from a successful sale. The staff all work on a zero-commission basis. “The staff still take pride in making the sale but we don’t want a high pressure sales environment,” says Joanne.


High Tech From the Start

4“Early adopter” is probably the best way to classify Ylang’s approach to technology. They have had a commercial website since 2002 that is bringing in clients from across the country and world. At the start of 2007, Joanne started a blog to keep in contact with her clients and more recently, Facebook and Twitter accounts. “Charles complains I’m married to my computer,” says Joanne, adding that she is constantly e-mailing pictures of jewelry models to clients. The time invested has paid off both commercially and from a marketing point of view. Joanne tells the story of how actress Debra Messing was recently buttonholed by InStyle for her favorite website. Messing went public with

No. 23

5When the breakup of the original Ylang-Ylang joint venture forced Charles and Joanne to rename their store, it was no surprise the number 23 appeared. The number has followed them since they first met, on the 23rd. They were also engaged on the 23rd, and married on the 23rd. So it was with a huge bash that they celebrated the store’s 23rd anniversary last year. The theme? Where Were You in 1985?


Overheard at the Store

Ya-lang, Lang, Yin Yang, Ling Lang, and occasionally, E-long (the correct French pronunciation for Ylang, which is a fragrant flowering tree found in the Philippines.

— Various pronunciations of the store’s curious name

         TRY THIS


Offer Reassurance

THE STAFF AT YLANG | 23 get up at dawn during late December to call clients with tracking information on their orders. The calls reassure customers and help build excitement about the gift.

What the Judges Say

SARAH READ: The story of “23” is great.  Not only is it a phenomenal marketing opportunity given all the references to 23 (when they met, got engaged, and got married and so on) but it is very romantic, and romance is cool; it is a jewelry store
after all.

KATY BRIGGS: It is inviting and friendly with a stylish flair that is far from pretentious. There is a real sense of fun and whimsy that carries through the brand. This is a store that doesn’t try too hard — it just makes you want to shop!

ADAM GRAHAM: I really appreciate their consistent and colorful marketing imagery — a great way to gain and maintain store brand recognition versus generic vendor-supplied marketing materials.

TODD REED: This store has the e-commerce part down — this is very forward-thinking and nice to see.

MICHAEL M. CLARKE: The niche positioning statement is clear: Let the celebration begin!



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This story is from the August 2009 edition of INSTORE

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