Brand Portfolio Brand Portfolio: Elizabeth Blair Fine Pearls Published 8 years ago on June 7, 2012 By Share Tweet Brand Portfolio: Elizabeth Blair Fine PearlsDAYTON & MONTGOMERY, OH BY EILEEN MCCLELLAND Published in the June 2012 issue. Elizabeth Blair, pearl-jewelry designer and owner of Elizabeth Blair Fine Pearls, does not shout out her name in celebrity circles; rather she cultivates her upscale clientele with the understated elegance befitting her slogan: “Quietly collected by women who know.” “I don’t need Hollywood to be successful,” Blair says. “Because I went to school in LA, everyone was giving me a hard time, saying ‘You’ve got to get on the red carpet, and I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ I have amazing women who have nothing to do with Hollywood who are wearing my jewelry. My jewelry is unique to the woman who wears it and very often one of a kind. And we match the jewelry to the person. It’s a very couture type of experience. “My customer has been the same customer for the last 25 years, a woman of means who does not need to ask her husband for money to buy her own things. I have very, very few men clients buying things for their wives or girlfriends.” Many of the women she reaches out to vacation in Harbor Springs on the shores of Lake Michigan, a popular resort destination for the Midwest’s affluent since the days of Henry Ford. Because Blair also runs a wholesale business, (Neiman Marcus carries her line), her store is open year round, but most of her retail business takes place in the height of summer. “We have the shortest selling season in America, Memorial Day through Labor Day, when the town swells from 1,500 residents to 25,000 ‘resorters,’ and we treat it like Christmas,” she says. Advertisement “We work from October to May to prepare, and we advertise all year.” Education runs through many of Blair’s marketing programs and includes themed events to celebrate a pearl’s country of origin, and private pearl parties. She does lectures off-site for groups of women and shows movies produced by pearl farms or the Cultured Pearl Association of America. “It’s really a lot of education and conversation and very little selling in the beginning. The education produces an ‘aha’ moment for clientele, who leave with a new appreciation of pearls,” she says. It has also helped foster relationships with a client base — a who’s who of middle America — who can afford to shop anywhere in the world. The approach appears to be working; Elizabeth Blair Fine Pearls enjoyed record revenues in 2011. BRAND COMPONENTS PACKAGING She carries the Elizabeth Blair brand name into every detail of her business, etched into the glass on her showcases, imprinted in every ribbon and box and tag. So that customers — many of whom are on vacation — know where they are shopping at all times — in her store and not at a competitor’s. She doesn’t want to leave any room for confusion. Advertisement WEBSITE Her website is more infomercial than retail outlet thus far but Blair is contemplating e-commerce for a sub-category of her business called West Main Pearls, featuring products under $1,000. FACEBOOKSocial media, so far, has not been her best investment in time. “It’s very overrated,” she says. “Our customer doesn’t do Facebook. Our customer is chairing charity events or jetting from one home to another. For my lower end, it might work, with repeatable designs at cash and carry price points. That might bloom at one point. Twitter and all that we don’t bother with.” WINDOW DECORATIONS Advertisement Window decorations change with the season. Blair plans events around a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which takes place in front of the store, and for the summer gallery walk. The omnipresent logo is etched into the glass. MAGAZINE ADBlair advertises in Traverse, a regional magazine with a national distribution, and seasonally, in the local newspaper. “Every month we have a new piece of jewelry in Traverse magazine, and people say they look forward to seeing what the piece is,” she says. PRINT AD Blair has an aesthetic background and is very opinionated about graphics. She has a degree in design from UCLA, where she studied photography, painting, clothing and even advertising. She manages her own message, hiring professional photographers to capture pristine images of her pearl jewelry that show them to their best advantage. She supervises all photo shoots, which are usually conducted in the store’s driveway on a bright, sunny day. SOTHEBY’S AD Blair takes out full-page ads in Sotheby’s real estate book. While a significant financial commitment, the ads have paid off for her with her target customer base. INVITATION The seasonal nature of the business has helped support one of Blair’s main marketing strategies: Pearls as a rite of passage for young women. “We promote what is becoming a tradition each summer — mothers or grandmothers bringing in their young girls for their first pearl earrings or pearl strand while learning pearl care.” Related Topics: click to Comment(Comment) Up Next Brand Portfolio: The Laughing Dog Gallery Don't Miss Brand Portfolio: James Free Jewelers Continue Reading Advertisement SPONSORED VIDEO Wilkerson Testimonials A Liquidation Sale during a Pandemic? Wilkerson Showed Them the Way For 25 years, Stafford Jewelers of Cincinnati, Ohio, was THE place to go for special gifts, engagement diamonds, high-end Swiss watch brands — in other words, the crème de la crème of fine jewelry. But this summer, the Stafford family was ready to retire. So, they chose Wilkerson to help them close up shop. “One of the biggest concerns was having the sale in the middle of COVID,” says Director of Stores Michelle Randle. Wilkerson gave the Stafford team plenty of ideas as well as safety guidelines, which they closely followed. “All of the employees felt safe, the customers coming in the door felt safe and we did a lot of business,” says Randle. How much business? “The inventory flew,” she says. Translation: They sold millions and millions of dollars-worth of merchandise. Randle calls it, “an incredible experience.” Would she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers who are thinking of thinning their inventories or retiring? “Everyone got more than what they expected out of the sale. You have to hire Wilkerson. 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