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Greenwich St. Jewelers’ Marketing Expert Sounds Off on Social Media, A.I. and Why She Got into Jewelry

Grace Barretti is inspired by being around “the most valuable things on this earth.”

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Grace-Barretti

Meeting Grace Barretti, it becomes obvious very quickly how important it is to cultivate talent, promote from within and find the right fit for your team members. Barretti, senior marketing manager for Greenwich St. Jewelers in New York City, started out in the store in sales seven years ago, something she highly recommends. She found her strength in forming relationships online at the same time Instagram was exploding; owners Jennifer Gandia and Christina Gambale recognized her talent and promoted her accordingly. Barretti studied at Parsons the New School for Design. Her comprehensive education combines media, advertising, psychology, branding, fine arts, jewelry design and illustration, all talents she says she uses every day in her job.

Q. What do you like most about your job?

A. I get to use all of the things I feel I’m good at. Every day, I use every tool in my toolbox. A lot of people who are creative feel they didn’t get to use what they went to school for. The fundamental skills I use that I’m naturally good at — psychology, writing, jewelry design and illustration — I can use to help customers understand a product so they are confident enough to buy it.

I enjoy being around arguably the most valuable things on this earth. We have access to the most beautiful diamonds, gemstones and the highest level of craftsmanship, working with inspiring designers, telling their stories, learning about sustainability. You can’t really do this job without learning everything you can and being able to recite it back in a way that everyday consumers can understand.

Q. What is the advantage of an in-house marketing department to a jewelry store?

A. It’s really important to have an in-house marketing department and invest in your team because these are the people who are going to tell your story. It’s the best way to control your image and reach the people you want to come and shop with you. Word of mouth is sometimes difficult to secure. Visuals, whether they are photos on Instagram, photos of the store, advertising, should all be consistent with brand image. If you’re working for different projects with different teams, it can be inconsistent. When the team is together, the marketing calendars are all connected and information is flowing smoothly all the time.

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Q. How do you stay up to date on social media and other new forms of marketing and communication?

A. I keep up to date mostly by consuming it. You need to be on the platform and using it all the time. If you miss a week, so many things can change. I have an app folder on my phone and I go through all of them every day and I see what’s performing well. I follow social media agencies and freelance social media managers who post tips for their followers. They give great advice for how to grow your Instagram no matter what kind of business they are. Creating content to give tips on the content. It’s more helpful than reading an article on it.

I also read articles by the platform LATER, a scheduling platform we use, which sends newsletters about social media. I read trade magazines.

Q. Will AI have a place in the modern jewelry store, and how is it being used or will it be used?

A. I did take a digital marketing course online that helped me from a technical side. I didn’t have a traditional marketing background in school and AI was starting to come about in a bigger way. People do get nervous about it, get a little scared about it, wondering, will it take my job?

I was in a classroom with 40 other marketers who had more experience than I did and the teacher was from Google. The conversation was that it’s a tool for you to make your life easier and not a tool to replace someone’s mind. It can’t create something that doesn’t exist. It can be used to fill in more on administrative work, and it gets rid of that blank page feeling, where you have nothing. It can help you achieve your creative goals and get started on a project. The jury is out on accuracy; it’s not wise to trust it blindly just yet. But I think in terms of tech, it could do anything from graphic design, to building websites to improve try-on technology, which is clunky at the moment. But the best way to view a piece of jewelry is to imagine it on yourself.

Even though something is uncomfortable and scary if you resist it too long, it becomes more difficult. So I say, jump in and tear off the Band-aid. With the new app, Threads, I said, let’s just get it and have fun with it. That’s always my advice.

Q. Do you have advice for people wanting to combine marketing and jewelry?

A. I would say to work for a small business. Jennifer and Christina were able to offer me so much learning and experience over seven years. I don’t think I would have gotten to grow this much within some massive company. Starting on the sales floor is fundamental; at least take sales courses outside of the job if you can’t have a sales position. It’s a solid foundation to be able to successfully market the product.

Q. How do you spend time off?

A. I live by the beach in New Jersey, which is a nice split between city life and nature; I have a dog that I go on hikes with, spending time by the water is always really relaxing. It can be overwhelming to deal with the 24/7 nature of social media. Being able to unplug is really impotant.

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Q. What have you tried lately to grow your audience?

A. Wild postings. (A marketing practice that involves posting messages to utility poles, stairwells, etc.) Another way of touching the neighborhood and have people see us repeatedly around gift buying season.

Q. Why jewelry?

A. I always knew I loved jewelry, however I didn’t find a program in my school that really had a jewelry outlet so I went to Parsons School of Design for illustration and culture and media studies, a five year program. Text and image was at the heart of every class. But this job didn’t emerge till social media really exploded when I graduated college.

I had a lot of jobs that taught me a lot of things in addition to school of visual arts for jewelry design. Being creative I think it’s difficult to go out into the world and find where you fit in, so I was working sculpting chocolates for Cake Boss, the TV show, as an editorial assistant for Shape Magazine, and at Tory Birch Design, where I did a lot of digital designing but I felt disconnected. It felt important for everyone to work at a store.

When I found a part-time sales position at Greenwich Jewelers, Instagram began exploding and I learned that posting jewelry and forming relationships online was something I was really good at.

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