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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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Commentary: The Business

Put Yourself First and Cultivate Your Own Brand

Concentrate on custom and healthy vendor relationships to succeed in today’s jewelry retail environment.

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It’s time for independent jewelers to create their own brand identity by partnering with brands that respect and honor their relationships, and by doing whatever they can to build loyalty with custom design, whether or not they have in-house shops.

Larger stores possess the volume needed to buy branded products and the showcase space necessary to display them. Granted, branded products and their retailers have a rarefied environment, with packaging, advertising and a built-in national customer affiliation.

But Pandora truly changed the dynamic of the vendor/retailer relationship in the last decade by building their brand off the independent’s efforts. They demanded higher sales volume and reorder numbers, then removed underachievers from the supply chain. Many independents lost the branded customer base they had acquired.

Worse, once Pandora identified the larger established consumer markets, in a checkmate move, they established their own stores, thus selling directly to the consumer. Many retailers suffered serious financial losses with non-returnable inventory and had their reputations damaged with unfulfilled customer service requests.

Following in hot pursuit, several popular companies decided they could dictate to their retailers how much they had to spend and restock in order to keep their brands. But in the end, many of these demanding brands will diminish because trends and styles change!

The goal of a supplier-retailer relationship is to be both transparent and mutually beneficial. There are many companies that go the extra mile for their retailers. Find those, buy from them and remain profitable.

It’s also time for the independent jeweler to do everything possible to create their own following in the custom-jewelry wars. The popularity of custom has created a multitude of manufacturing jewelry stores showcasing their own products and increasing their own brand diversity.
Great local and online presence, along with professional training and an engaging and well-informed sales staff, allows your store brand to flourish. Self-branding, shameless advertising and polished elevator speeches help us gain and maintain our status in the community as the go-to jeweler.

 

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Dave Richardson

Here’s a Training Exercise to See How Well Your Team Knows Your Clientele

Here’s the fastest way to see how much your team knows about the customers they serve.

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Knowing Your Customer is Critical

WHY IT IS TRUE: Selling used to be about transaction; now it is about relationships. How many customers are in your database and what do you know about each of them?

PLAN OF ACTION: On a sheet of paper, ask your salespeople to write down the names of your top 50 customers. Ask them to write something they know about that customer, their spouse, hobbies, etc. Train your team based on how well they know your clientele.

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Shane Decker

Four Sales Tips to Make It Your Best Christmas Yet

To deliver an unforgettable holiday experience, you have to be on top of your sales game.

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There are four areas you’ll need to focus on this holiday season to be successful: store floor awareness, add-on sales, “wowing” clients, and shopping environment.

1) Store floor awareness: Based on closing ratios I’ve tracked over the years, your team’s closing ratio can go up 70-80 percent during the holidays. No client is “just looking”; they’re looking to buy. Clerk sales and impulse buys skyrocket. If you haven’t increased your sales staff or prepared for the rush, you will lose sales.

We all know that some clients will walk out if they’re not waited on immediately. Some come in only during the holidays, and if they don’t feel we meet their expectations, they will become clients of our competitors.

Store floor awareness deals with everything that is happening on your floor. Is the “sweet spot” covered and is everyone greeted within five seconds? If everyone is helping someone, clients need to be greeted by someone who isn’t about to close the sale.

Don’t let busy work get in the way of helping a customer — nor apathy or fear. When clients say they’re “just looking,” too many salespeople reply, “OK, look around and if you find something you want, let us know.” That’s a sale killer. If you’re not present, they’ll walk and give another salesperson in another store your money.

During the holidays, your sales teammates’ needs become very important. Don’t leave anyone stranded. They may need help closing or team-selling (an assist can raise the closing ratio by 50 percent). Never be too busy to help.

2) Add-on sales: During this time of year, the average Christmas buyer buys 15-20 gifts. The average jewelry salesperson sells them only one. Then the client goes to several other stores and buys the remaining 14-19 gifts. When a client has chosen the item they’re looking for, instead of walking to the cash register, use a lead-in line and say, “How many others are on your list?” He may say, “I have a 12 year-old daughter.” Then you reply, “You know, her first set of diamond studs should come from her dad. We have great studs for your young lady right over here.”

“Wow” your clients: Get a high-ticket item in each client’s hand before they leave. You can change it based on the client, your inventory, “wowing” smart and visual observation. Most clients have never had the opportunity to have an awesome item in their hand before they walk out.

Sometimes they buy it. Remember: it’s Christmastime, the time for giving. Not to mention, this will separate you from your competition.

4) Shopping environment: Make sure the store looks, smells and feels like Christmas. Offer coffee, cinnamon rolls, cookies, mulled cider, whatever a client may want. The longer they stay, the higher the closing ratio. Remember that the experience is even more important than the product they will purchase.

Lastly, show every client respect, patience and a great attitude. Tell them you were so glad to see them and wish them a merry Christmas with a smile. Small and large sales are all important. Gather information so that you can follow up, and remember not to mail thank-you cards until Jan. 15; you don’t want to blow the surprise!

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