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A Cut Above

Louisiana jeweler blazes own path after breaking free from his family business.

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Cut Fine Jewelers, Baton Rouge, LA

URL: cutfj.com; OWNER: Matthew & Evan Patton; FOUNDED: 2012; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2014; AREA: 1,500 square feet; SHOWCASES: Interiors by Stuller; COST OF BUILDOUT: $35,000; TAGLINE: One of a kind, just like you.; FACEBOOK: 1,725 likes; TWITTER: 273 followers; ALEXA GLOBAL RANK: 5,303,688


WORKING IN HIS FAMILY business in Baton Rouge, LA, for six years, Matthew Patton discovered he was a natural salesman.

But gradually, as he developed confidence in his own ideas, he began to feel a bit like a square peg in a round hole.

“The traditional setting of selling jewelry was not appealing to me,” he says. “I enjoy the creative process and working with clients side-by-side, encouraging them to be creative and involved in the design of their jewelry if they wish to be.”

Instead of forcing himself to stand behind a counter and adapt to the traditional ways of doing business, Patton struck out on his own, first opening an appointment-only office in a business park, and then, sooner than expected, finding he was doing well enough to open his own store with his wife, Evan.

“Fortunately, it grew much more rapidly than I ever thought it would,” he says, largely through referral and social media.

There was not much of an ad budget. But he did work with a marketing agency to produce a series of polished promotional videos featuring millennial couples in slice-of-life scenarios.

Patton describes himself as a networking ninja. It helps that he’s outgoing and remembers the name of practically anyone he’s ever met.

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The name of his store, however, sometimes prompts questions. He was recently asked at a networking event if Cut is a butcher shop. It’s also been mistaken for a hair salon. But the name offers the opportunity to educate customers about the importance of cut when assessing a diamond’s quality. And he likes the simple and concise nature of the name, “Cut.” “We didn’t need another Family Name Fine Jewelers,” he says.

From the start, Patton set out to appeal to Baton Rouge’s youthful bridal market. Inspired by his love of Apple stores, he designed Cut Fine Jewelers with clean lines and sleek, modern cases of varying heights and shapes that allow for side-by-side selling. Cases in the center of the store are grouped in three islands and are finished in a different, lighter shade than cases on the perimeter, which really brightens up the space.

In a break from the tradition of a wood look in jewelry stores, he wanted to avoid browns and yellows. “There are lots of grays on the walls and in the carpet,” Patton says. “The focus is on the jewelry and on the diamonds.”

Although the sales floor is only 1,200 square feet, the open case layout makes it feel much larger and creates plenty of breathing room everywhere.

Patton’s goal from the beginning was never to compete on price but to sell the most well-cut diamonds and gemstones he could find. And showcase those gems in the highest quality settings he could buy or manufacture.

It’s a true mom-and-pop operation for now, with just the Pattons, who wed in April, staffing the store. One valuable asset Patton brought with him from the family business is an instinct for how to talk to customers.

“I grew up watching my dad and my grandfather interact with their customers, and it was never business,” he says. “It was like talking to an old friend. They taught me how to handle clients and realize that they are the reason you are there. I sincerely believe that if you keep your clients’ best interests in mind and are always honest, you cannot help but be successful.”

PHOTO GALLERY (8 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About Cut Fine Jewelers

1. U.S.-MADE GOODS.  “We’re sticklers for quality; we want to make sure it’s properly made. Being made in the United States is a huge selling point for us,” Matthew Patton says. Around a third of bridal is custom. The Pattons use Stuller CounterSketch and other design software to show clients what’s possible. Interestingly, they’ve found that men who shop alone are more likely to choose the custom route, and that men who bring along their brides-to-be wind up spending roughly $2,000 more on an engagement ring.

2. SOCIAL SAVVY.  A Cut Fine promotion invited guys to send a letter to ESPN explaining why they should receive a diamond ring from Cut. In 12 days, they received more than 20,000 hits, with amazing social-media results. Patton and on-air personalities chose the winner.

3. FORWARD LOOKING.  Ninety percent of the showcases, designed by Interiors by Stuller, are forward-opening, allowing shoulder-to-shoulder selling, complemented by museum cubes outlining the outer perimeter of the showroom to showcase jewelry lines.

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4. SECRET WEAPON.  Evan Patton has what Shane Decker calls a missile selling style. She particularly excels at selling to guys who want to be told what to do, her husband says. “A guy said, I have $7,000 for an engagement ring. What would you buy?” Evan says. “I told him, ‘This is what you need. I’m not going to give you something ugly.’ And she loved it!” Other shoppers just crave some reassurance. “They need to be told, it’s OK to buy it. It’s OK to get engaged. It’s OK to spend the money,” she says.

5. TRY IT ON.  If customers need to wait a few minutes, they can play with an iPad, or try on a variety of prototype rings. “I did not want it to feel like a museum,” Matthew Patton says. “I wanted it to be inviting and people to feel comfortable, that it’s not a bad thing to touch something. Adds Evan, “Something you can’t touch can feel like something you can’t have.”

 

JUDGES’ COMMENTS
  • Sally Furrer:  verything about this brand is clean and uncluttered, not to mention also very consistent. Love the packaging with the bright yellow pop of color. Their tagline is powerful and plays perfectly to the millennial bridal client.
  • Pratima Sethi: They have incorporated their logo into all their branding messaging very well.
  • Jesse Balaity:  Cut fully embraces the front-sell model, which of course makes for friendlier customer interactions. This layout has an added benefit at night, where the full glass storefront reveals a complex layering of graphics and jewelry showcases that invite passersby to peer in and explore. This is also one of the best implementations of non-custom showcases.
  • David Kepron:  TCut’s brand message is provocative with multiple meanings. The graphic expression of the brand in advertising is compelling with a strong contemporary lifestyle sensibility.
  • Bryan Eisenberg:  I like the consistency between their ads and website in terms of their messaging and imagery.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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