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Rising Star of Dallas

Kelly Mitchell's store wins customers with an approachable sense of luxury.




Kelly Mitchell, Dallas, TX

URL:; OWNER: Kelly Mitchell, Steve Dawkins; FOUNDED: 1994; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2013; LAST RENOVATED: 2013; AREA: 2,600 square feet (1,700 showroom, 700 office, 200 shop); COST OF BUILDOUT: $590,000; EMPLOYEES: 3 full time, 4 part time; TOP BRANDS: Bayco, Siera, ARA, Zorab; YELP RATING: 5 Stars; FACEBOOK: 123 likes; ALEXA GLOBAL RANK: 4.81 million

THE OUTSIDE LOOKS LIKE a pub, and the inside looks like a chocolate shop,” Kelly Mitchell says of her namesake store. “Unless you don’t like to drink or eat chocolate, one of those should make you want to come in.”

She’s not joking. The table in the center of her enchanting store was inspired by a visit to a Godiva retail outlet, where a glass-enclosed table held slabs of fudge sitting on elegant marble. “They had to access it by cutting out a drawer and pulling out the piece of fudge that you wanted,” Mitchell says. “And I remarked to the person I was with: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you were getting in there to show somebody a watch or a diamond?’”

Mitchell has hawked jewelry since her teens, when she earned a gold bracelet for convincing numerous people to attend a family acquaintance’s gold chain parties. She liked the pieces — but it was more about the challenge of getting people to come. She worked for a chain jewelry store while attending college in Kalamazoo, MI, and for supplier Nova Stylings after graduating. Then a South African diamond company hired her to sell loose stones to private clients all over the globe. In 1994 she started her own private practice, Rede Diamond, serving a similar clientele.

“I’m not gonna lie,” she says. “That was a blast. I got to see so many glimpses of so many people’s lives in so many different countries. It was really an amazing time, because you could still kind of get around with a suitcase full of loose stones.”


But insurers gradually became more timid about covering that kind of expedition, and Mitchell had grown weary of spending days away from home. In 2009, she started her own retail operation out of another jeweler’s space in Dallas, and in 2012 began looking for her own location.

She knew what she didn’t want. “I never liked the jewelry stores I would walk into. I just wasn’t comfortable,” she says. “It seemed like the best jewelry stores — you always look at yourself like, ‘Am I dressed well enough to go in there?’ It seemed like you always had to be a serious player to go look at the most beautiful things on earth.”

So when Mitchell finally built her dream store, she aimed for a different feel. “It looks like there should be edibles in the cases,” she says.

Her store is approachable but also radiates luxury. The warm browns of the wood floor and cases combine with the gold-hued walls and pressed ceiling to give it an undeniably tasteful energy. Fresh, pretty flowers accent the showroom. Mirrors and hanging cases dot the walls.

“And if you don’t want to be messed with, you can come right in and sit down at the bar,” Mitchell says. Her boyfriend and co-owner, Steve Dawkins, a real estate executive, insisted on the bar.

He also helped inspire the arrangement of the merchandise — cases and displays are organized by “life events.”

“He said, ‘What is it in your store that you could do to help me if I was coming in to try to shop?’” Mitchell says. He meant that for men especially, the layout of a jewelry store could be … non-intuitive.


That was familiar territory for Mitchell, who’d spent the jet-setting early part of her career essentially acting as a personal shopper for upscale middle-aged men without the time or knowledge to purchase gifts for their partners. She set up “collections” around the store: Engagement & Anniversary, Black Tie, Art & Investment, Everyday Wear and others.
“Usually people give us a clue what they’re looking for, but you can figure out the layout pretty quickly,” she says. “They get it.”

Her price points start around $200 and range up to half a million for some one-of-a-kind pieces clients can see in the private room. Mitchell looks for designs that match the unique sensibility of the space.

“There are lots and lots of fabulous, wonderful stores in this market,” she says. Dallasites are well-heeled and sophisticated. “We had to have a niche of beautiful, comfortable, ready-to-wear, one-of-a-kind pieces that people are going to notice even if they’ve traveled all over the world.” (She does a lot of custom work, too.)

And you have to have a store they notice.

That’s been no problem.

“Ninety percent of the people who walk in just go, ‘This is a beautiful store!’” Mitchell says, just a touch abashedly. “I hate to say it, but it’s such a nice compliment!”


Five Cool Things About Kelly Mitchell

1. COMFORTABLE LUXURIANCE. The store has an open floor plan that gives it a salon feel. Showcases resemble old-fashioned bakery cases, and shoppers can sample branded KM chocolates while they browse. “It’s all designed to be ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ instead of ‘What are you doing here?’” Mitchell says. Not bad for a shop where prices reach six figures.

2. INSTINCTIVE NAVIGATION. Mitchell’s showroom is arranged by “life events” so customers can see a selection of pieces that meet their particular need. It’s intuitive and provides a sense of price point. For example, the Everyday Wear area is lighter, with more self-purchase-type items. Farther back in the center are areas like Black Tie.

3. SIT DOWN, STAY A WHILE. Customers are invited to grab a flute of champagne while they shop. “The reason Cheers resonated so well is just that a bar brings people together and they connect,” Mitchell says. “Our bar is where every sale seems to close — and it usually leads to great conversation.”


4. WILD DESIGNS. Mitchell has a wealth of safari hunter clients from her globe-hopping days. “It’s a unique client base,” she says. She’s custom-made pieces using lion claws, warthog tusks, leopard bones. “There’s plenty of controversy around the community, but these hunters love animals as much as anyone.”

5. THE CONCIERGE APPROACH. “I was used to having a whole book of men that expected me, the day before every anniversary, to have either email pictures right in front of them or a FedEx box of jewelry on their desk,” Mitchell says of her early career. She stresses that level of service at her store, too. “Service at a level that is unexpected is what buys you clients.”

Try This

Busy people don’t have time to come walking through your doors to snag as new business,” Mitchell says. “Everyone should be sending out pictures to clients when they see pieces that fit their clients or calling them to send a piece into their office to preview, to keep business rolling. Your shipping insurance goes up, but people like to feel special and open a box that was sent just for them to consider.”



Danielle Miele:  The interior is gorgeous! Looks like a delicious treat! Not only does the store look flawless, but their website carries the same presence — beautifully done!

Leslie McGwire:  Just amazing! The overall design style is excellent. The metal ceiling, the elegant light fixtures, the gold tones to the store are just beautiful. The mid-century modern twist design is very different compared to other jewelry stores and refreshing to the client.

T Lee:  The “patisserie” style curved glass cases and the pair of round pedestal cases give such a cafe feel that it literally makes my mouth water even before I see the jewelry. Kelly has successfully leveraged a niche clientele in the safari community. I love the branded chocolates, but I’m relieved there are no animal heads on the wall!

Andrew McQuilken:  It’s all about the metallic gold ceiling. The attention to detail and updated Old World charm create a space full of energy and newness. It’s all familiar but with the metallic gold twist.

Cindy Edelstein:  I really appreciate the interior design — from the scale of the room to the unique fixtures. I think it’s a very inviting and enticing atmosphere that I’m sure appeals to the customers who want an experience and a fun place to visit.

Josh WImmer has been a contributor to INSTORE since 2006. He has coordinated the annual America's Coolest Stores contest for several years. The job mostly involves pestering jewelry store owners to start their contest entries, pestering jewelry store owners to finish their contest entries, and figuring out computer problems over the phone from hundreds of miles away.



When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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