If i owned a jewelry store? Well, I do. Not that I ever thought about being in the jewelry business! I grew up in real estate and joined my father’s business early on.

Over the years, I watched him make successful forays into what were at the time new territories, and I thought someday I’d identify an opportunity to flex my entrepreneurial muscles as well. That chance presented itself as I was pursuing a land deal in Florida. All business comes down to relationships, and we do well to cultivate them wherever we can — a big lesson from the first phase of my real estate career and one that applies to every aspect of my jewelry company.

One of the counter-parties in that Florida deal was the owner of a diamond manufacturing company, and one of the largest vendors of loose diamonds in New York. They were looking to take their business to a whole new level.

We got to talking, and I hadn’t realized I had passion or flair for this type of marketing effort, or that my experiences as the daughter of Ivana Trump had taught me so much about fine jewelry and jewelry stores.

Our talks evolved, and soon after, I found myself immersed in the process of designing of my first collection and planning the opening of my boutique for September 2007.

During the planning stages, I revisited many childhood experiences. Watching my mother getting dressed for an event, picking out her jewelry .... She used to take me to the most important jewelry shops on Madison and Fifth avenues, which all felt like cold mausoleums to a little girl. Very often, my mother would be the only client in a store, and I remember how everyone’s eyes were trained on her, willing her to make a major purchase.

"Our female-friendly space comfortably empowers women to take charge."

So when the time came, I was overflowing with ideas. I also realized that I had an opportunity to make an even bigger mark in this business by not only creating the jewelry, but by introducing a new kind of shopping experience. My store would appeal to me and the women I identified with, and would negate everything I felt so strongly was wrong with the experiences my friends and I had had elsewhere.

I pondered what my peers, my mother and her friends wanted that wasn’t being reflected in the designs of traditional high end jewelers.

We all appreciated the vintage styles that are so popular these days but didn’t want to wear our grandmother’s jewelry. So we created a unique collection of “heirloom-chic” jewels. Our goal was to put a twist on the classics, and our motto became “Rock Tradition.”

Our next step was to design a brand identity that reflected our ideals in two and three dimensions. We created a logo, added distinctive jewelry boxes and developed a store plan that would reinforce the aesthetic of our collections: to be warm, welcoming, and attractive to the woman we had in mind.

For generations, men did an overwhelming majority of the luxury shopping — or at least signed off on most purchases. But times had definitely changed, and yet most jewelers had not made any fundamental adjustments to properly cater to the modern woman. Yes, maybe some ran clever marketing campaigns, and some others did create interesting jewelry in an “accessible” (lower) price point, which was their answer to “marketing to women.” Ultimately, they still do business the same old way.

So we made sure our store design and our sales strategies reflected this shift. Our female-friendly space comfortably empowers women to take charge. From the art-deco style, to the variety of showcases, mirrored walls, comfortable sitting areas and a vanity desk for trying on jewelry as if at home, everything in our store says “stay, have fun.”

The idea of recreating a woman’s own dressing room or boudoir soon became a signature of the brand. Our events, campaigns, the causes we support and brand associations reflect our commitment to truly being a woman’s jeweler.

One of the simplest innovations to our space turned out to be one of the most meaningful. In Manhattan, high-end stores keep their doors closed, have guards at the front, and feature a “man-trap,” the double-door entryway that traps consumers before they can access the floor. I always found it so off-putting and haughty. How could a brand promote a new kind of luxury and still resort to the same old tactics? I am thrilled with our changes. Our guards wear suits and are well spoken and cordial to our clients. Our doors open without buzzers, and our space is open, soft, bright and feminine.

We also spent a lot of time on our signature. From our space to our logo signifier, our signature coral color accent (picked from childhood memories in Palm Beach) and our exquisite statement-making boxes, you get our brand the moment you look at any of our collections, collateral, ads or website.

Our point of view is clear, coherent and most important, thoughtful. If I was to do this, I would do it right. The world didn’t need another inconsequential jewelry store, but it certainly could use one with brains and smart positioning.

Our “Rock Tradition” ideal seems to be paying off. Our clients get us, the media has endorsed our designs, and Hollywood has embraced my young brand. Even through the difficult times everyone experienced over the past year, our following grows every day; we’re building a strong brand and planning wholesale and retail growth in the spring of 2010. You’ll see a lot more of me and my company soon!

Ivanka Trump is a founder and principal of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, a luxury diamond jewelry endeavor in partnership with the Dynamic Diamond Corporation. Her retail outlet is located in New York City. She is also executive vice president of Development & Acquisitions for The Trump Organization. Visit ivankatrumpcollection.com or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.


This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of INSTORE.

 

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