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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.


RELATED STORY: CINDY EDELSTEIN PASSES AWAY AT AGE 51

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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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Cleaning House for a New Generation

At Komara Jewelers in Canfield, Ohio, Wilkerson handled all the aspects of its retirement sale just as owner Bob Komara’s children took over day-to-day operations of the business. They’d used other companies before, says Brianna Komara-Pridon, but they didn’t compare. “If we had used Wilkerson then, it would have been so much better.”

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Columns

The Adventures of Captain Marvel and Timewriter: A Comic Book and Watch Geek’s Dream

An industry journalist asks herself: ‘What if I were a superhero?’

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I LEFT THE MOVIE THEATER completely smitten. I’d just seen “Captain Marvel” with my family, and more importantly, with my kick-a** little girl who was about to turn 9. “Momma,” she said to me. “I feel like I want to be Captain Marvel when I grow up.” I smiled and responded with something along the lines of, “You are already doing so much of what Carol Danvers did when she was a little girl.” But what I didn’t share with her was that I felt the same. Naturally, I couldn’t tell a little kid that her adult mom dreamed of being a superhero. She thinks I’m a little loony as it is. Why would I solidify that idea by letting her in on my little secret? No, I wouldn’t share with her my hopes of someday having superpowers and fighting bad people, while looking flawless in a Spandex suit. I’d keep those thoughts for the times I wind up daydreaming when I’m supposed to be meeting a deadline.

That night I crawled into bed with visions of Nick Fury dancing in my head.

“What if I were a superhero?” I thought to myself.

“Well, technically, Barbara, you’d be a superheroine,” the feminist portion of my conscious replied.

“Oh, shut it,” writer me answered. “You’re missing the point, feminist me. I’m trying to figure out what kind of powers I’d have, and by what name I’d be called.”

I pondered a while as I started to drift and thought about my strong suits. I mean, I can write, I thought. And, I know about watches and time. Maybe my powers could combine those two things. Time. Or the ability to change it. Or even to change someone’s words. That’s when it came to me.

Timewriter

I’d be called Timewriter! That’s it! And I’d be Captain Marvel’s sidekick! Yes! Now if only I lived in the Marvel Universe …

(Insert funky music and squiggly vertical lines that look like I’m entering a dream sequence a-la a 1980s sitcom.)

(Also, potential spoilers below.)

Timewriter: “Okay, Captain Marvel, we need to figure out how to stop Thanos before the rest of us turn to dust.”

Captain Marvel: “I don’t … know … what … I’m sorry, who the heck are you, and why are you creeping up on me? Have you been stalking my Instagram?”

Timewriter: “I have, but that’s not the point. I’m Timewriter. I’m a new comic book character and I’m your new sidekick.”

Captain Marvel: (Smirking.) “I’m sorry, your name is Timewriter? Wow. That sounds so not beneficial to the cause. And I don’t need a sidekick. I have Goose.”

Timewriter: “I know. I saw pictures of the cat on your Instagram and on the website Adorablekittiesbelongingtosuperheros.com. Cute. But it can’t write.”

Captain Marvel: “So, you’re saying your superhero ability is … writing? Do I really have time for this? (Looks upward and around.) Which of you writers wrote this character into my universe? Is this because you’re not paid as much as I am?”

Timewriter: “It’s my dream, so leave your writers out of it. And, my power isn’t just writing, it’s words in general. I have the ability to change someone’s words as they’re saying them.”

Captain Marvel: “Prove it.”

Timewriter: “Okay, well, go ahead and say something.”

Captain Marvel: “And what would you like … for dinner? I’d love to make you dinner tonight to celebrate the fact that you’ll be my new sidekick.”

Timewriter: “See? And why thank you! I’ll have lamb, medium-rare, please. And a side of kale. Have to stay slim in this suit.”

Captain Marvel: “Whoa. That was weirdly impressive and also tremendously uncomfortable. OK, so what about the ‘time’ portion of your name? How does that work?”

Timewriter: “Well, I have the ability to time travel into the future, though unfortunately I can’t travel to the past.”

Captain Marvel: “That’s not exactly a new thing. I mean, Dr. Strange could do the same when he had the time stone. And I can alter time too, as long as I’m wearing my watch. Do you have your own watch?”

Timewriter: “Yeah, of course I do. I’m wearing this generic-looking round watch that was created using free clip art from a random webpage. That’s pretty much how all of me was created (for the sake of this article).”

Captain Marvel: “No, I said do you have your OWN watch? Meaning, a watch that was named after you because you’re pretty much the most powerful member of the Avengers and in the universe, in general. Like I do, see?” (Holds out wrist.)

Timewriter: “Whoa. That’s pretty cool. What kind of watch is that?”

Captain Marvel: “It’s a Citizen Eco-Drive, so it’s light-powered (like I am) as well as eco-friendly (I mean, I recycle, so, there’s that). It’s called the ‘Captain Marvel’ and it has my logo on it. This is the gold-tone one but it comes in three versions altogether, which are all really awesome, and I’m not just saying that because Citizen is the official timepiece partner of U.S.-based Disney parks, or even because Disney owns Marvel Entertainment. I’m saying it because I really love the watch. I mean … it’s a ‘me’ watch. Literally.”

Timewriter: “Yeah, I can see that. It’s definitely a ‘you’ watch. But you said you can alter time with it. How does that work?”

Captain Marvel: “Oh, well, I just pull out this little thingy here on the side …”

Timewriter: “It’s called a crown.”

Captain Marvel: “Yeah, I pull out this crown thing and I can change the pointy parts …”

Timewriter: “Those are called hands.”

Captain Marvel: “… and I can change the (does air quotes) ‘hands’ to either show an earlier time or a later time, see?”

Timewriter: “You do realize that doesn’t change actual time, right?”

Captain Marvel: “Well, no, not yet it doesn’t, but who knows what superpowers the writers are going to conjure up for me in “Avengers: Endgame.” I mean, that could be one of them.”

Timewriter: “OK, well, on that note, I think I hear my morning alarm going off, so maybe we’ll pick this story up in a future dream, m’kay?”

(Insert funky music and squiggly vertical lines that look like I’m exiting a dream sequence a-la a 1980s sitcom.)

(Hits snooze. Sits up in bed.)

Me: “Wow. I have GOT to stopping eating Thai food so close to bedtime. The spices are seriously messing with my head.”

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Columns

The Digital Doc: How Often to Post on Instagram, and Other Digital Marketing Questions for March

Smart Age Solutions answers reader questions about websites, social media and more.

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IN THE DIGITAL DOC, Smart Age Solutions answers jewelers’ questions about how to use digital marketing on the local level to bring in more customers and make more sales.

Do you have a question for the Digital Doc? Send it to digitaldoc@smartagesolutions.com.

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Jimmy Degroot

Video: How to Hire the Best People for Your Jewelry Store

Video: Jim Ackerman on Why Your Digital Marketing Doesn’t Work Like the Experts Say It Should
Jim Ackerman

Video: Jim Ackerman on Why Your Digital Marketing Doesn’t Work Like the Experts Say It Should

Video: Don’t Miss the Biggest Opportunity to Improve Profits in Your Jewelry Store
Jimmy Degroot

Video: Don’t Miss the Biggest Opportunity to Improve Profits in Your Jewelry Store

Q: I understand that a lot of online usage comes through people’s phones. How do I take advantage of this?

A: There are many components to a mobile marketing strategy. Let’s just focus on the basics. First, make sure you have a mobile-friendly website. Test it regularly and have friends outside the business take a tour as if they are customers so they can give you feedback on how user- friendly it is. The next step is to make sure you have a presence in the apps that consumers use the most — namely Google, Facebook and Instagram. You should be buying ads/sponsored posts in these channels. For some retailers in more competitive markets, you may have to spend more than others, knowing that more than 80 percent of shoppers have done some sort of research from a mobile phone.

Q: How often should I be posting on Instagram and do I need to spend money there?

A: There’s no “one post schedule fits all” here. However, the general rule is to have at least three to four posts per week. A lot of this can depend on the season and the products you carry. If you carry many fashion or timepiece brands, your posts are likely more relevant throughout the year and can be much more lifestyle-focused, so being consistent here is important. If you have the resources to create the posts often, definitely invest in boosting posts regularly. This will ensure your posts are getting seen and promote interaction from users.

Q: Should I keep products on my website that I don’t have in my store?

A: There are many opinions on this and we can talk forever about advantages/disadvantages to both. But to keep it simple, follow this rule — display all products that you have access to, whether they are in the store showroom or your vendor can get them to you within 48 hrs. Remember, as our industry has few transactions done online (less than 6 percent), your website should be there to drive leads, phones calls and foot traffic.

Pro tip: Your phone number should always be visible on your website no matter where the customer is. Make sure your website provider is using the ‘anchor’ feature so your customers never have to go on a scavenger hunt for a way to get in touch.

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Editor's Note

Our Editor-In-Chief Admits He Didn’t Know What WhatsApp Was … Do You?

Like other tech, it has the potential to make clients way happier with business owners.

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WHEN I SAW this issue’s “Do You or Don’t You” question, I was just as baffled as many of our readers.

The question, posed by our group managing editor, Chris Burslem, through our Brain Squad survey was this: “Do you use WhatsApp or another messaging service in your marketing or to otherwise communicate with customers?”

Video: How to Hire the Best People for Your Jewelry Store
Jimmy Degroot

Video: How to Hire the Best People for Your Jewelry Store

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Jim Ackerman

Video: Jim Ackerman on Why Your Digital Marketing Doesn’t Work Like the Experts Say It Should

Video: Don’t Miss the Biggest Opportunity to Improve Profits in Your Jewelry Store
Jimmy Degroot

Video: Don’t Miss the Biggest Opportunity to Improve Profits in Your Jewelry Store

I admit it: I wasn’t 100 percent sure what WhatsApp actually was.

So, I looked it up, and it’s a messaging app that sends text messages for free through an Internet connection. But its advantage is that you can create a business profile so users can see your address, website and contact info. It also allows businesses to save and reuse messages that you frequently send (e.g., “Your repair is ready!”), as well as sort your contacts by labels (e.g., “Frequent client,” “Engagement client only,” “Repair client only,” etc.).

In other words, I quickly learned that WhatsApp has some really cool features for small business owners.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of jewelry retailers are burned out on new tech. And yet, technology like WhatsApp, social media and review-management services like Podium can allow you to connect with clients in ways that they prefer and provide more efficient customer service.

If you’d be willing to walk uphill both ways through snow and sleet to serve your customers, are you also willing to delve into the latest technology to do the same?

Trace Shelton

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

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Geofence your competitor’s store. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 26)
  • When working with a female engagement ring client, ask her to close her eyes and describe the perfect ring. (The Big Story, p. 39)
  • When dealing with a customer complaint, say “Tell me more” in order to put them at ease. (The Big Story, p. 40)
  • Ask job candidates, “Tell me how you prepared for this interview.” (Tip Sheet, p. 47)
  • Bundle slow-moving product with a fast seller in order to clear it out. (David Brown, p. 52)
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