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Goodbye, Cindy

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Cindy Edelstein and Trace Shelton

Cindy Edelstein spread good feelings wherever she went. Here, she shares a hug with INDESIGN’s editor-in-chief Trace Shelton and television style pundit Michael O’Connor.

Remembering a dear friend, tireless jewelry advocate
and all-around industry dynamo, Cindy Edelstein


The jewelry designer’s fiercest advocate and one of my best friends in the jewelry industry, Cindy Edelstein, passed away yesterday. In truth, Cindy was a best friend to many, many people, and her passing leaves an enormous hole not only in our industry, but in our hearts. As stunned and devastated as I am today, there was no way I could write about any other topic — I had to tell all of you just what an incredible person we have lost, as many of you reading this already know.

The jewelry industry is a tightly knit community, especially in the designer world where the name on the door is also the person inside the booth at the trade shows. For someone like myself who’s not a jewelry designer or retailer, this community can be difficult to enter into. Cindy was one of those rare people who knew everyone in the room and yet still had a space at the table for you. No matter how busy she was during a trade show – and she was pretty much always swamped, since she worked on behalf of Couture, JA New York, the AGTA Show, and globalDESIGN – she always took the time to pause, even if only for a moment, to give a hug and ask about your life. Not your business — your life. As much as I understand that most interactions at trade shows are necessarily transactional – what can you do for me, what can I do for you – I appreciated Cindy’s genuine interest in my personal life because there was nothing in it for her; she was just being a friend. It was always a short but much-appreciated moment of warmth amidst the hustle and bustle of the trade show.

That genuine, personal quality is not the only thing I will miss with Cindy’s passing, but it is the thing I’ll miss the most. Last year, at the JA NY Winter Show, I was fortunate enough to meet Cindy’s husband, Frank. Cindy made a point of introducing us, and the three of us sat and talked about our daughters, who were just a year apart – mine was in her second semester of college at the time, and Cindy and Frank’s daughter, Remy, was finishing up her senior year of high school. We must have talked for an hour about parenting and smart daughters and how hard it is to send them off and, really, how hard it is to live without them. As we always did, we talked about Malik, our son that my wife and I adopted nearly five years ago out of the foster care system; as always, Cindy encouraged me to keep fighting the good fight on his behalf. Did we talk about her regular contribution to INDESIGN Magazine (the “Customer Types” section, which won gold in last year’s Tabbie Awards)? I’m sure we did, but what meant the most to me, and, I think, to Cindy, was our personal conversation about things that mattered outside of work.


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As much as Cindy was a good friend, she was also an unflaggingly positive proponent of designer jewelry. Her business, the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau, celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, and Cindy remained at the forefront of business methodology and always exhibited a remarkable sense of professional curiosity, regularly sharing articles about innovative practices through social media and her newsletter, the Cindy Edelstein Daily. She promoted the category of designer jewelry relentlessly in her many and regular Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts, and she constantly encouraged designers to improve their businesses in a myriad of ways – the bottom line being that she wanted to teach designers to be not just incredible artists, but incredible businesspeople as well.


“Cindy was especially an advocate for fledgling designers. In fact, ‘advocate’ is too weak a word — she was more like a mama tiger fighting for her cubs.


She was especially an advocate for fledgling designers. In fact, “advocate” is too weak a word – Cindy was more like a mama tiger fighting for her cubs. A friendly conversation could turn tense in a moment if Cindy thought there was a chance that you might treat small designers unfairly. She did not limit her support to her clientele; Cindy fought for every designer and promoted their virtues to retailers and press alike. She was convinced – and I believe she was correct – that emerging designers were the lifeblood of the industry because they fed it unbridled creativity. She believed they were the pioneers of jewelry, pushing the industry forward creatively even as they struggled to survive from a business standpoint. She was an advocate for “the poor” in our industry, if you will, and she often worked for free, speaking at events and writing for publications solely to advance the designer’s cause.

Over the past few weeks, Cindy had been consulting with our team about our inaugural INDESIGN Awards, which will recognize excellence in jewelry design. She emailed me early this month to say she had heard about the awards and simply wanted to offer whatever help or advice she could. She spoke to us about everything from contest categories to marketing to judging criteria, and she offered us invaluable advice from her many experiences as both an administrator and judge in various design competitions. Cindy was wonderfully frank and never hesitated to share her unvarnished opinion. Our contest will be the better for it. She never asked for anything in return; she just wanted us to be successful, and she loved when designers were recognized for their creations.

That was Cindy in a nutshell: She was a helper and a hero. She held her friends almost as closely as she did her family. She did what she thought was right and let the cards fall as they may. Her passion, energy, brilliance and experience will be sorely missed in our industry. But way more than that, we will simply miss Cindy, the person. Goodbye, Cindy – you were one of a kind. I do not expect we shall see your equal.


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VIDEO HIGHLIGHT

Wilkerson Testimonials

New York Jeweler Picks Wilkerson for Their GOB Sale

Jan Rose of Rose Jewelers, located in Long Island's famous Hamptons beach district, explains how she chose Wilkerson for her closing sale. Jan's suggestions: reach out to jewelers who have been in similar situations to find out what worked for them, and look for a company with experience in going-out-of-business sales. Once you've done that, the final step is to move ahead and trust the process.

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Editor's Note

We’re All Quitters Someday

A successful ending to your retail career requires planning.

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ALL GOOD THINGS must end. Yet every ending is a new beginning. I could keep going with the clichés, but you get the point: everyone eventually has to move on from jewelry retail. When the time comes, you want to go out on your own terms.

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With that in mind, our lead story takes you inside the transitions of six different jewelry retailers and explains why business expert Seth Godin says that one of the secrets of successful organizations is “strategic quitting.” Everyone reading this issue will leave the industry one day; now is the time to begin planning for it.

That said, many of you aren’t ready to retire, you’ve just lost your inspiration. You’re down and out, dejected, or maybe just bored. We’ve got just the thing for you to help you get your mojo back: our second lead story, “Mojo to Go.” It includes 12 different action items guaranteed to bring the excitement back to your business life.

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If that weren’t enough, we’ve also got what group managing editor Chris Burslem calls “lots of fun and interesting side bits” throughout, including why you shouldn’t discount shop labor, how to sell more safely, what your inventory management strategy can learn from dieting, and of course much, much more.

So remember, it’s not the quitting that matters — it’s how you plan to quit!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Have your kids or your employees’ kids make Valentine’s Day cards and use them as props in your displays. (Manager’s To-Do, page 26)
  • Hold office hours for an hour or two a week for staff to talk to you. (Mojo To Go, page 44)
  • When role-playing sales with your staff, always take the role of salesperson first. (Ask INSTORE, page 58)
  • Renegotiate everything from your lease to Internet, cable, phone and even garbage pickup to save money. (Evan Deutsch, page 52)
  • Use an open-to-buy calculation to balance what you’re buying with what you’re selling. (David Brown, page 53)
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Commentary: The Business

Want to Survive? Go Custom

Tapping into jewelry customers’ desire for individuality is the key to retail success.

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YOU OFTEN HEAR THE words “it’s custom made” when referring to jewelry, but is it really? We all know there is a difference between “off-the-rack” and “custom-made” when it comes to clothing — jewelry isn’t any different.

The magic starts when the customer meets the maker. Each custom piece of art (which is what jewelry really is) should start with a conversation. Then the information provided — including style ideas, desired gemstones, personality traits and tastes, hobbies, work and social environments, favorite colors, you name it — should be incorporated into hand-drawn or 3D CAD rendered images for the client to choose from. Once a favorite design has been chosen, the creation and fabrication processes can begin.

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This specific value-add and brand differentiation is where clients realize the importance of knowing your jeweler. You have to trust the individual making the piece for you — that is paramount.

People are tired of sameness. From rampant copying to boring, uninspired designs, jewelry clients are becoming wise to seeing the same thing over and over again. The jewelry they are seeing does not speak to their individuality because these products are made for the masses on a gigantic scale. The anonymity behind fast fashion and easily consumed products that break or lose stones in a short amount of time after purchase don’t help the cause. Customer service only goes so far; the product has to have its own legs to stand on.

If you are creating one-of-a-kind pieces, you do not have the carrying costs associated with pre-fabricated designs and styles. You do not have to have liquidation sales of old, tired merchandise. You are creating exactly what the client is looking for. Being a specialty shop does not limit you to only creating custom pieces. It empowers you to design out-of-the-box and far-out jewelry that pushes the boundaries of style and uniqueness.

Seth Godin said that “survival is not the goal, transformative success is.” It is not always the strongest that survive, but those most responsive to change. Change is an opportunity that many see as a threat. It all boils down to our individual creativity. There is no competition when you create.

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Shane Decker

How to Avoid 3 Security and Sales Risks

Secure sales techniques not only keep your jewelry safer, they make your clients happier, writes Shane Decker.

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THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, I’m in jewelry stores all over the country, and one thing I’ve noticed is that many stores are packing up their jewelry and timepieces before they close. They start packing up at 5:30 when they close at 6. What if a client comes in at 5:50 because that’s the only time he can make it, and everything is put away? You’ve just told him you don’t want to wait on him. He’ll go somewhere else and become a client there.

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I’ve heard salespeople tell such a client, “Tell us what you want and we’ll go get it out.” But by that point, it’s already too late. The client feels like he is being a bother or that your plans are more important than he is. (Not only is the practice of packing up early a sale killer, but your insurance carrier may have a problem with it as well. You’ve got your jewelry all boxed up and sitting on top of the counters for the bad guys to come in and take it out very easily.)

Some stores try to avoid killing the sale by packing up areas where they don’t think the client is looking. But this is silently telling the client, “Hurry up and get out so that we can finish packing up the area you’re looking at.”

Clients hate feeling rushed. They chose your store to purchase jewelry. If you’re in that big of a hurry to get home every night, go get another job! Quit killing the client’s experience.

Another problem I see often is what I call “over-showing.” It’s when salespeople have too many items out on the counter pad. This only confuses the client. It also makes it easier for someone to grab your inventory and run out the door. If you ask enough selling-specific questions, you can dial in quickly on what the client wants and concentrate on one or at most two items. Never have more than three items at once on the pad. But always put the item that interests the client in their hand. It shows trust and gives them ownership.

One final security risk that I see is salespeople walking away from their clients. If you leave the merchandise out in front of them, you make them feel nervous. But if you take it with you, you’re showing them that you don’t trust them. This is a sale killer. Always have someone to assist you to avoid either of these bad options.

Be sales-minded, but also be security minded. Practice store floor awareness. Be aware of other sales associates’ needs. This will make your store more secure, and equally importantly, make your clients much happier with their experience.

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