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If I Owned

If I Owned: Jen Hatmaker

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I remember the first time I walked into Tiffany’s in Manhattan. I was on a girlcation with five of my best friends, and together we’d abandoned 14 children back in Texas to spend a week in New York. Of course, I grew up on the lore of Tiffany’s; they’d nicely managed to become iconic to the last three generations. We wanted to see the blue boxes. We wanted to see the gorgeous jewelry. We wanted to walk the polished aisles.

But after entering the beautiful double doors, it took only three minutes to recognize a different feeling: out of place. To be fair, we were all professionals in our fields and owned a decent amount of nice jewelry back home. Sure, we were up from Texas, but we didn’t exactly fall off the back of the turnip truck. But still. There was this sense of not belonging in this fancy place. We were out the door as quick as we got there.

As women with purchasing power smack in the middle of the unglamorous world of parenting, juggling, carpooling and working, we love to walk into a store and feel understood. We already worry that we aren’t enough; we don’t need our jewelry stores to underscore the point. If I owned a jewelry store, I would cater to my kind of people. We are professionals who also like to watch dumb movies. We love a beautiful bracelet but we also like to float down the Guadalupe River in inner tubes. We are real girls who can certainly appreciate The Finer Things but don’t want to feel like we are pledging an adult sorority to acquire them.

“We’ll borrow what coffee shops have gotten right and apply it to a new industry.”

I’d start with environment. Most jewelry stores cater to the tastes of high-end buyers, but I’d create a store where women would want to pull up a chair and stay all the live-long day. Where the finishes are typically glossy, shiny, sharp and cold, I’d go comfortable, cozy, relaxed, and warm. Big overstuffed chairs, warm colors, creative lighting, singer-songwriter music. Walk in the door, get a glass of champagne and a warm welcome. We’ll borrow what cozy coffee shops have gotten right and apply it to a new industry.

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As part of my value system, I’d make a big deal about carefully sourcing all jewelry. My buyers would know that every element was carefully traced through the supply chain, and none of my customers would wear anyone else’s misery. We’d include beautiful photography around the store depicting our artisans, our craftsmen and the laborers who collaborated on our jewelry. I’d also include a section of only local artists and invite them regularly to the store for special events.

Staff matters as well. Associates would not need to dress like they are attending a wedding. Be trendy, be stylish, but be relaxed. I’d prefer the staff to seem like girlfriends to the customers, not gatekeepers. The effect should feel like Get in here! instead of You don’t belong here. I’d train them to build strong customer loyalty, so that buyers wouldn’t dream of using anyone but their very favorite associate who knows their style, is a delight to work with, and sends husbands “jewelry suggestions” before birthdays. Staff should take copious notes after every transaction: What did she love? What did she lean toward? What did she hate? What did you hear her say? What other personal details did she share? Women want to connect and men don’t want to be patronized, so relational equity is a key element.

Finally, I’d build lasting loyalty with a Bridal Pact: Buy your engagement and wedding rings here, enjoy 10 percent off any additional piece of jewelry for life. We’d gush over brides and grooms. I’d host an annual in-store cocktail party for all our newly wedded couples by invite only including special One-Day-Only-Deals just for them. Local music, great food and wine, and bring your wedding pictures, of course.

I go to the same little coffee shop around the corner from my house, because every time I walk into that darling space, they call me by name and start making my favorite drink. They ask about my kids and point out the new breakfast taco on the menu because they know I’m a breakfast taco sucker. They tell me how my daughter and her friends were studying in there last week and how cute they were. The chairs are cozy, the environment is spot on, the menu delicious, and the staff welcoming.

I am a customer for life.

Why couldn’t a jewelry store feel the exact same way?

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JEN HATMAKER is the author of 10 books, including the USA Today best-seller Interrupted, as well as 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and the forthcoming For The Love. She and her husband Brandon also star in the television series Big Family Renovation on HGTV and live in a 105-year-old farmhouse with extremely questionable plumbing. Jen’s popular blog has netted her multiple appearances on The Today Show and she has more than 300,000 followers on social media. Check out her speaking schedule and blog at jenhatmaker.com.


 

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 edition of INDESIGN.

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