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Cool Store: Yanina & Co

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Custom-made designs and cutting-edge styles are the perfect fit for this New Jersey jeweler

When Yanina Fleysher was in high school, she worked part-time at an indoor flea market selling gold and diamond jewelry. Back then, she couldn’t have imagined that several decades later, she’d still be selling jewelry … or could she? “From the first day, I loved the business, the jewelry, interacting with people.” Today, she’s in an upscale destination shop, replete with silklined walls, mahogany showcases and crystal chandeliers. Located in the tony northern New Jersey suburb of Cedar Grove, Yanina & Co. is a family business, which Yanina co-owns with her mother, Claudia, and brother, Alex. While the sophisticated space is a far cry from the flea market, so too is the merchandise mix. Everything in the store is geared to the stylish contemporary woman. More than half is custom-made,
designed by Yanina and Alex, while the other collections are well-made brands with a strong fashion edge.

Yanina & Co
Cedar Grove, NJ

Quick Facts

OWNERS: Yanina Fleysher
URL: www.yanina-co.com
AREA: 2,500 square feet
FOUND: 1987
OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2001
STAFF: 8 full time; 5 part time
TOP BRANDS: The Yanina Collection, The Sydney Collection for Yanina & Co., Rina Limor, Marika, Monte Carlo, Rebecca, Calgaro

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cool reason # 1: enter into e-tail

In fall 2010, in an initial phase to take the business national, Yanina & Co. launched an online boutique on its website. “But the jewelry sold online is completely different from what’s in the store, particularly in price,” Fleysher says. Geared to a broader and more middle-America audience, prices range between $150 and $5,000 for gold, diamond and pearl jewelry. None of it is bridal, she says, “just fashion, because I don’t believe bridal should be sold that way.” The online store includes a dozen “sale of the week” items. “Our online boutique goes hand-in-hand with our company Twitter page; both allow everybody to purchase Yanina pieces, even those who don’t live in our area.”

cool reason # 2: tweet, tweet … ka-ching, ka-ching

On Sept. 25, 2010, one of Yanina & Co.’s Twitter followers posted: “Hey guys please follow my friend @yaninaco who just happens to be my jeweler. love the store, love her…” It was from Caroline Manzo, one of the stars of hit reality TV show The Real Housewives of New Jersey, who posted it on her own Twitter page. “Each one of the housewives has thousands-if not millions-of Twitter fans, so every time one of them tweets about our store, their fans read it and get curious and go onto our website,” Fleysher says. “We get so many visits to our website and Twitter page from those mentions. Twitter has been really beneficial overall to our business. We use it to talk about our promotions, events and new items we get in.”

cool reason # 3: mad about CAD

It’s been nearly a quarter-century since Yanina & Co. opened for business, but two years ago they looked at the rising price of gold and decided to change their method of custom design, going from completely handmade to predominantly CAD-CAM. Implementing computer-aided design and manufacture has helped them tremendously through the difficult economy and gold’s price increases, explains Fleysher: “With handmade, there was a lot of waste of metal, but not with CAD-CAM, which lets us build a piece of jewelry and not lose a lot of the metal and shavings and stick to the actual weight.” Learning it isn’t an overnight process, but it was well worth it, she says.

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cool reason # 4: thank-you power

In January 2010, Yanina & Co. launched its True Loyalty Customer Referral Program. If a new customer comes in and purchases something and says they were referred by one of Yanina & Co.’s customers, the jeweler immediately mails the customer a handwritten thank-you note with a $100 gift card that reads: “We are grateful for our loyal clients who continually support us by referring Yanina & Co. to friends and family … to show our gratitude, here is a $100 gift card.” “It’s a small thing,” Fleysher says, “but we’ve seen that it goes a long way, especially in difficult economic times when people don’t need to buy jewelry and are looking for a pleasant experience.” For many years, the jeweler has also been mailing customers a $200 gift card to be used during annual spring and fall sales. With these two “thank-you” programs in place, Fleysher says the mailing list has grown rapidly.

cool reason # 5: fashion tie-ins

While special events are typical for fine jewelry stores, for Yanina & Co., fashion factors in more often than not. They usually host six in-store jewelry fashion sales a year, promoting them through billboard and print advertising, Twitter, and Facebook. Additionally, this past fall, they co-sponsored the first New Jersey Fashion Week, along with names like Lord & Taylor, Fashion Group International and the Accessories Council. Open to the public, proceeds from ticket sales benefitted the Susan G. Komen for the Cure  charity. There wasn’t any selling at the event, but a selection of Yanina & Co. jewelry was displayed, along with product from other sponsors.

HEARSAY
I went to Yanina’s to buy a gift as well as have some pieces cleaned and repaired. The selection was remarkable. There were so many different styles to choose from. The sales associate was so helpful … she knew everything!!!!

 

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Store Interior

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Store Exterior

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Store Marketing

 

Five Questions with Yanina Fleysher

HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH THE DIFFICULT ECONOMY?
Our average ticket went from $10,000 to $5,000, but because I don’t carry a lot of designer brands, it’s been much easier for me to break down the custom pieces that I make and reinvent them into lower-priced merchandise.

WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE YOUR STORE’S LOCATION?
After I worked in the flea market, I rented a booth for five years in a local jewelry exchange. When I decided to open a store, I wanted to stay in the area and keep the clientele I’d built during my years at the exchange. So this location was perfect—-and especially because it wasn’t in a mall. I wanted a destination store, where people would come to buy, not just browse.

ANY REGRETS WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BUSINESS?
Yes. About a year ago, I visited Tanzania and brought back eight ebony bangles. When I returned home, I put diamonds in them, and they all sold immediately. I regret that I didn’t buy more!

WHEN PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW ASK WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING, HOW DO YOU RESPOND?
The very first thing I say is: “I make people feel good.” Because even when it’s a husband buying jewelry for his wife, the man is making the woman feel good. So everyone’s happy!

DESCRIBE THE LOOK OF YOUR RENOVATED SPACE.
It’s timeless, both modern and classic. People have told me it’s edgy enough to be in Soho but it’s also so comfortable they don’t want to leave. Because people usually walk to the right when they walk in, I had a center island built just to the right, and it’s the store’s focal point. We have all warm colors, dark mahogany wood, a lot of raw silk for the walls, toned-down custom fabric on chairs. I worked with a designer for the entrance way— because I saw a vestibule he’d designed for a local restaurant and I fell in love with it, so I hired him to do ours!

TRUE TALE
On Sept. 11, 2001, we were scheduled to break ground for our renovation and, because our workers showed up to do that, we did. But I remember thinking “That’s it, no one is going to buy jewelry now.” It turned out to be just the opposite, with people saying they were going to continue to live for those who’d died. Not long after, I had one customer, in particular, who lost her husband in the tragedy and she said she wanted a diamond tennis bracelet for what would have been their wedding anniversary. She said that’s what he would have wanted for her. —YANINA FLEYSHER

TRY THIS

Wear what you want to sell
CUSTOMERS OFTEN BUY what they see me wearing in the store. So wear something different every day. And be sure to put on the new pieces when they arrive. Have all your sales associates do it, too. Seeing something on is so much better than seeing it in a showcase. —YANINA FLEYSHER

TRY THIS

Help accessorize
IF YOUR CUSTOMER TELLS YOU she’s going to a party or special event, encourage her to bring in the dress that she’s planning to wear. Tell her you’ll help her accessorize with jewelry. Even if a customer doesn’t buy something but instead, decides to wear a piece of jewelry she already owns and has brought that in with her, helping her accessorize is an extra personal service that she’ll appreciate. —YANINA FLEYSHER

PLAY LIST
Sade, Maxwell, Beyonce, Michael Buble, Adele, Duffy, Kings of Leon, John Mayer, Lady Gaga, Seal, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Maroon 5

COOL STORE VIDEO

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This story is from the January 2011 edition of INSTORE

 

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