Connect with us

Falling for Jewelry

SMALL COOL 1ST PLACE: Austin omnichannel retailer fills a niche with the kind of jewelry she always wanted to wear.

Published

on

Amanda Deer Jewelry, Austin, TX

OWNER: Amanda Eddy; URL: amandadeer.com; FOUNDED: 2009; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2017; AREA: 800 square-foot showroom, 1,200 square feet total; EMPLOYEES: 4 full-time, 1 part-time; ONLINE PRESENCE: 8,273 5-star reviews on Etsy; 12,176 Facebook followers; 20,200 Instagram followers


THE SHOWROOM AT Amanda Deer Jewelry in Austin, TX, is fun, bright and intimately comfortable. But there’s more to this jewelry retailer than meets the eye. A lot more — like 2,000 units shipped per month more.

That’s right: This primarily online retailer sells and ships anywhere from 800 to 2,000 pieces per month, and even more during the holiday season. It all starts with the owner, Amanda Eddy, who left her job as a marketing manager for a local photography tech firm five years ago to make and sell fashion jewelry full time.


AMERICA’S COOLEST 2021 SPONSORS
Austin Retailer Fills a Marketplace Niche with Everyday, Affordable JewelryAustin Retailer Fills a Marketplace Niche with Everyday, Affordable Jewelry
Austin Retailer Fills a Marketplace Niche with Everyday, Affordable JewelryAustin Retailer Fills a Marketplace Niche with Everyday, Affordable Jewelry

Her old job was very different from what she does today. “It was a lot of screen time and travel,” she says. In 2009, she started making jewelry for fun as something different that she could do with her hands. Over the years, she fell in love with it.

Amanda Eddy

Amanda Eddy

“I would make pieces for me and my friends,” she says. “I fell in love with dainty, everyday affordable jewelry. Twelve years ago, I wasn’t finding it anywhere. Like, I just wanted a gold bar necklace, but I didn’t want to pay $500 for it — I wanted to pay 40 bucks for it. And I didn’t want it to turn my neck green. It seemed to strike a chord with the women around me as well.”

She began taking classes on how to make jewelry, as well as using Google to figure out how to acquire and put together findings and chains. Friends continued to ask for more jewelry, so she began using her marketing, photography and tech background to take pictures and put her jewelry online. Sales trickled in slowly at first, but momentum grew until Eddy was waking up at 4 a.m. every day to put orders together and get them shipped before leaving for work.
Finally, in 2016, she was faced with a choice: Go into jewelry full time or give it up. She quit the tech job that she had enjoyed for 13 years and launched Amanda Deer Jewelry. She hired two friends to help her make jewelry, and then opened a 250 square-foot studio. “We could hardly move, but it was so fun,” she says. A year later, she moved into the current 1,200 square-foot space.

Advertisement

At the time, the building was located in a quiet part of town, and Eddy figured she would use part of the space as a retail showroom. Since then, Whole Foods Market and Target have moved in across the street, with many restaurants and shops following suit, leaving Amanda Deer Jewelry with an ideal retail location on the corner of the highway frontage road and East 5th Street. But it wasn’t easy: There was no parking on the street for two years while Whole Foods was being built. And then came the pandemic.

“If we had not had our e-commerce revenue stream, we wouldn’t be here,” she says of the pandemic shutdown. But not only did the business survive, it thrived, growing 20 percent in 2020. Ninety percent of sales were completed online.

Austin Retailer Fills a Marketplace Niche with Everyday, Affordable Jewelry

As foot traffic picks up, Amanda Deer clients enjoy trying on jewelry right off the displays.

Today, the foot traffic has picked up tremendously, leading Eddy to add another salesperson and expand retail hours to seven days per week. “We have groups of girls who come to Austin specifically to come visit our store because they saw it on Instagram or TikTok,” she says. “I think that’s a little easier to do when you’re a fashion brand because it’s easy for them to afford.”

It’s no surprise that more people are visiting the store as word gets out. The space features local limestone and wood beams that are original to the building, as well as a unique “floating bubbles” light fixture that was handcrafted by a previous tenant. “We just tried to breathe our brand identity into what was already there,” says Eddy.

The Amanda Deer team redid the flooring, a warm wood that matches the beams overhead. Eddy’s husband, David, made many of the store’s displays at home in the couple’s garage. “They’re pink, so it looked like a Pepto-Bismol bottle exploded in our garage,” laughs Eddy. Additionally, Eddy’s mom installed plants throughout the showroom (“She checks on them every other week to make sure I haven’t killed them,” says Eddy).

The team also purchased bowls, filled them with black sand and placed jewelry in them as unique display elements. “We feel like when people try things on, they connect to the jewelry,” says Eddy.

A studio in the back is divided into two spaces: One for business and shipping purposes, and another for designing and making the jewelry itself. The four employees who occupy the space are as committed to the success of Amanda Deer as Eddy herself — and the feeling is mutual.

Advertisement

“Team is everything,” says Eddy. “I’m one of those people who wants to do everything myself, and letting go has been hard, but once I did, it freed me up to grow the business.” Two of her employees are jewelers who also sell their own lines outside of Amanda Deer. “They’re wanting to go the e-commerce route and learn more about it, so for me, that’s great. It feels like we’re growing together,” says Eddy.

Part of that growth for Amanda Deer has been founded on a crystal-clear understanding of the brand and what Eddy wants it to stand for. “I have my ‘brand guide’ with fonts, colors and logos — everything I wanted to incorporate. I think that consistency helps people develop a relationship with your brand, even if it’s only online. Whether it’s your website or your packaging or the showroom or the tone of our customer service emails, everything has to be consistent,” she says.

As for the name Amanda Deer? It came down to online appeal, says Eddy. “I wanted something spicier than my last name. So, I started thinking of different words and ‘Deer’ seemed to fit. I knew we could come up with a fun logo, and most importantly, the URL was available. I wish I had a better story! But I do feel like it fits the style and the price point.”

Austin Retailer Fills a Marketplace Niche with Everyday, Affordable Jewelry

Warm woods in the floor, doors and ceiling beams add softness when paired with white and pink displays throughout Amanda Deer’s showroom. Small bowls filled with black gravel provide contrast and easy access for trying on jewelry.

One thing Eddy does to make Amanda Deer’s jewelry presentation online stand out is shooting all jewelry on either a model or a textured background to give viewers a sense of scale and how a piece looks when it’s worn. And the models are actual clients. “We wanted to breathe that authentic vibe into our social media,” says Eddy. “We had them style themselves in their favorite tops. It made the images feel authentic, rather than a sterile studio shoot. People can sense that.”

As a former marketing manager, it’s only natural that Eddy also handles the business’s social media posts and website copywriting. The tone of the copy is that of a friend who just happens to make and sell jewelry. Eddy says that while that tone is purposeful, it doesn’t work if she puts too much thought into her writing. “It’s literally just me typing. If I think about it too much, it sounds weird. It has to be the first thing that comes into my head.”
She’s also purposeful and well-versed in all aspects of online marketing. The company currently uses retargeting advertising through Facebook, Instagram and Google. “If you visit our site and look at a particular product, it’s gonna kind of haunt you,” she laughs.

Advertisement

The future is bright for Amanda Deer, but Eddy says she’s just enjoying being in business for now. “Last year was just about keeping our business alive,” she says. “Now, I’m trying to make our online business better every day, whether it’s better tech or more reliable shipping. Video is huge, and I really want to incorporate some short video clips of people wearing our jewelry.” She also says the company has made some recent forays into fine jewelry, which have worked well, so more are on the way.

But regardless of any changes to the business, kindness will remain one of its core values. “We just try to be kind,” says Eddy. “People can be cruel sometimes online, so always being kind and giving people the benefit of the doubt and having that consistent tone has been good for us.”

JUDGES’ COMMENTS
  • Hugo Kohl: Most together in aesthetic by far.
  • Michael O’Connor: Very fun and cool vibe that carries through the store and marketing materials.
  • Jeff Prine:Exceptional merchandise, marketing and outreach to engage women self-purchasers and first-time jewelry shoppers (millennials and Gen Z). Emphasis on entry level but fun merchandise and ability to trade up those consumers. Outstanding PR social media offerings establishing store owners and store as a style leader and trendsetter.
  • Jennifer Shaheen: This store really knows who they are and who they connect with as a buyer. Their store and marketing communicate the same message. I appreciate the focus and attention to detail in everything they do.
  • Ruth Mellergaard: This store has a focus on women having fun, buying for themselves or others and hanging out with a female “tribe.” I’m not surprised that they sell a lot online — their friendliness comes through on their website.

 

PHOTO GALLERY (36 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About Amanda Deer Jewelry

1. ALL-FEMALE STAFF. The entire team at Amanda Deer is made up of women, and Eddy says her team is “small but mighty.” Between the five of them, they handle everything from production to shipping, customer service, marketing, social media and in-store sales. All are also involved in the local chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association.

2. HISTORIC LOCATION. Amanda Deer Jewelry is situated in a historic building in downtown Austin that was built in the late 1800s. Originally, it was a warehouse that held flour, which was loaded onto trains for shipment. Over the years, it’s been home to many businesses, including a salon, a locally loved taqueria and music school. It also served as the interior location for the 1981 Sissy Spacek film Raggedy Man. Austin music legends such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson have shot music videos inside the space as well.

3. SUPER CAMEO. In 2019, Amanda Deer’s signature lightning bolt necklace was worn by the superhero Storm in the feature film X-Men: Dark Phoenix. “We took the whole team to the theater, and it was the coolest thing to see,” says Eddy. “In the big action scene, she’s wearing the necklace and it’s flying around.”

4. BUBBLE FIXTURE. As beautiful as the Amanda Deer showroom is, it wouldn’t be the same without its signature light fixture, which resembles bubbles falling from the ceiling. Surprisingly, the fixture was already hanging in the space when Eddy acquired it. “Between the hair salon closing and me taking over, another woman tried something in the space, and it didn’t work. But she spent a lot of time handcrafting this bubble lamp,” says Eddy. “When I saw it, I just felt that it belongs here. It’s so fun and it feels on-brand for us.”

5. FAST, FUN WEBSITE. Like its showroom, Amanda Deer’s website is bright, friendly and fun. More importantly, it’s fast. That’s because Eddy placed a primary emphasis on mobile responsiveness. “Our audience isn’t just browsing mobile; they’re going through the entire checkout process mobile. So it can’t have any annoying pop-ups or any sort of obstacle or time delay — and I’m talking about mere seconds,” she says. “It has to work and it has to be easy.”

Try This: Loan or Give Your Jewelry to Social Media Influencers.

“We’ve been primarily working with TikTok through bloggers; we’ll give them our jewelry and they’ll talk about it,” says Eddy. “One day, this girl came in and was taking videos around the store. The next day, I look and that video has 30,000 views.” However, Eddy cautions that retailers should get to know each influencer first: “Your name is attached to whatever they post, so you have to be careful.”

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

It’s Going to Set Us Up Very Nicely for Retirement

You’ve worked hard all your life. And if you’re like most jewelers contemplating retirement, you’re hoping that your going-out-of-business sale will add to your nest egg — with minimal complications. That’s exactly what Doug and Jacki Friedrich, fourth-generation owners of Friedrich Jewelers Inc., of Vernon, Conn., experienced when they selected Wilkerson to run their sale. “Jewelers who are contemplating a sale should go with Wilkerson because of their experience,” says Doug. And with financial goals “exceeding expectations,” the couple can now focus on enjoying the next chapter of their lives. “It’s going to set us up very nicely for retirement,” says Jacki. “The money’s coming in and we have no complaints. It’s been wonderful.”

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular