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The Essential Jewelry Collective: Selling Through Collaboration in the ‘New Normal’

COVID-19 has us isolated, but we are not alone.

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IN AN UNCERTAIN world when we don’t know what is going to come next or what “the new normal” will look like, it’s vital to find new ways to survive in this business. When jewelry designer Samantha Jackson of Heavenly Vices and I began discussing how small independent and emerging designers could weather the economic burdens and navigate both the wholesale to retail relationships and direct to consumer landscape during a pandemic — the obje ctive to collaborate seemed essential. Samantha explains, “With COVID-19, this is the first time in a long time our priority isn’t responding to a design challenge, but to an execution challenge.”

Since our discussion took place during late March and early April, we thought about how to nurture the independent designer end of the market while also offering consumers a respite from the concerns about the pandemic and easing their mind about the gift giving season. Yet we didn’t have much time to pull things together.

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Samantha was a management consultant for almost 20 years before launching her company that breathes new life into authentic one-of-a-kind reclaimed loves tokens and original designs based on them. “I was trained me to develop creative solutions for tactical issues in service of a long-term strategic vision. That mindset continues to serve me well; once I get on board with idea it is easy for me to formulate a plan to execute,” Samantha says.

And it was that skill set along with my gut instincts of spending 22 years in this business, for a time in the 90s as a small designer myself, that led us to launch The Essential Jewelry Collective (EJC). The program united designers in an effort to support each other in posts on IG and work together to promote the initiative throughout social media. “We have created a separate page on IG for EJC to post different designer’s collection to drive traffic to each of their websites where they have designated a special space for this gift giving season: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Graduation (even if the kids don’t get the diploma in person, a celebration – accompanied by a present – is still in order). We also include bridal parties who’ve worked hard on bridal showers and planning. Just because the wedding has been postponed, doesn’t mean the gift has to be.” Samantha explains.

The most imminent holiday is Mother’s Day, which is fast approaching. Each online shop has direct to consumer shipping – there is no drop shipping. The purchases will ship from each designer to the customer who purchased it or it can be sent in beautiful packaging to a designated recipient.

PHOTO GALLERY (6 IMAGES)

The designers who joined Essential Jewelry Collective understand that this is an important time of year for showing your loved ones how much you care — especially now when so many people can’t be with their families.

Retailers interested in these 16 talented designers can hop on to the Instagram page @essentialjewelrycollective to get a quick look at the designers distinctive styles and follow the links to their websites to learn more about each of these creative talents. “We have everything from emerging to well established independent designers, and if you look across the portfolios of the designers involved, you will see a group with strong individual points of view and price points. We envisioned this as a well curated virtual shopping mall – we provide the overall structure and manage the social media but it is up to each designer to set up their website according to their own vision of essential gifts and what they have available,” explains Samantha.

She continues “Many of our designers are contributing proceeds of their sales to organizations impacted by COVID-19 — rather than imposing one cause on all designers, each one can decide what is important to them and impact their local communities — we have designers everywhere from Ojai, California to London. All of this gives both retailers and consumers the opportunity to discover something new, and buy from small businesses who are providing support to their jewelry community as well as the world at large.”

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The Essential Jewelry Collective is one of a number of group efforts to find new ways to market, sell and for designers to encourage and assist each other. At the end of March, I wrote about Bibi van der Velden and her website Auverture.com, an online destination for creative fine jewelry and to create a nurturing environment for independent designers and artists and how in keeping with this premise, the designs have set up The Auverture Designer Fund, pledging financial support to designers during the coronavirus crisis. “We’re doing this because we believe this is how we can most valuably help our community, and because we believe in the strength of our designer family and the positive role their creations play in our world “ said van der Velden. You can read about more of the initiative here.

There are also social distanced group trunk and trade shows planned on Zoom where retailers can see a number of small designers presenting their wares. These collaborative efforts seem to be the wave of the future. This is not limited to designers themselves; retailers can take some tips from the help designers are giving each other and cultivate a sense of community in stores.

As Samantha aptly concludes, “To paraphrase Albert Einstein, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we had before they existed. COVID has us isolated, but we are not alone.”

If we all act like we are in this together, we might open new avenues for the end consumer to purchase and for our industry to get involved in creative ways of selling.

The Essential Jewelry Collective Designers include: Alberian & Aulde*Borgioni*Dana Bronfman*Grace Lee*Hannah Gard*Heavenly Vices*Jade Trau*Karen Karch*KATKIM*Linda Hoj*Michelle Fantaci*Moritz Glik*Orly Marcel*Robinson Pelham*Seal & Scribe *Talon

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