When Britten Wolf opened his own jewelry store with his wife, Michelle, in 2013, he just wanted to be himself. The store specializes in custom, unique and handcrafted jewelry, and in 2015 became one of INSTORE’s America’s Coolest Stores.
“Extraordinary, never ordinary,” which became his tagline, is the message he strives to convey consistently. He realizes, though, he had veered off message for a while in his marketing, and began to promote other jewelry brands along with his custom design services. Custom design makes up at least 80 percent of his business.
But Michelle — and everyone else who knew Britten — urged him to refocus on custom design, which is what he had become known for. What helped him get back on track was the non-profit Small Business Alliance, which had helped Wolf launch his business with a $150,000 loan. Since then, the group has also deployed college students studying economics and business to help him fine-tune his marketing plans.
“The best advice I got was be you,” Wolf says. “What I realized when they told me to be me, was that you have to stick with what you built your business on. I was trying to be that other jewelry store as opposed to being me. But when you hear that from a lot of people, finally, it clicks.”
Wolf has a non-traditional approach to advertising. “Jewelry is visual, and so I’ve never thought radio would be that good. And TV is expensive,” he says. So he targets online, mobile, SEO and web advertising, and uses analytics to keep track of what’s working best. One of the hashtags associated with BVW Jewelers on social media is #GettingHitchedInReno.
In 2017, the advertising budget was 6 percent of gross sales. It was also the year that BVW Jewelers hit its $1 million mark.
Wolf bought a 1952 GMC pickup, added the store’s logo to it, and uses it to attract attention in a variety of ways. “We keep a stack of business cards in it and pass them out like candy,” Wolf says. “Wherever we drive it, people follow; it’s a great conversation starter and quite often, we see them in the store at a later date.” They also enter the truck in Hot August Nights, the region’s largest special event, which attracts more than 6,000 registered classic cars and more than 100,000 attendees. “Family and friends hop in the back and we toss out Mardi Gras beads, attached with candy, as well as buttons with our logo and information, all while cruising up and down parade routes. It’s awesome! You can hear people all the time talk about the truck when you drive by.”
Wolf handles marketing himself, arriving at work at 7 a.m. each day to begin social media tasks. He and his team use mobile apps to post to several outlets at once to maximize their time and effort. Although it seems daunting, the solo approach isn’t impossible for a small-business owner with a clear-headed strategy and the motivation to make it work. “If you get into a routine, you can do it in about an hour a day, but if I try to do it in the middle of the day, it doesn’t work.”
Positive reviews are rolling in. Wolf encourages Google reviews by giving clients a reminder card and a 15 percent discount on their next purchase. His current Google rating, based on 54 reviews, is 4.9 stars. On Yelp, 98 reviewers have given his business an average rating of 5 stars. “We have had more positive reviews on Google and Yelp than any other jewelry store in northern Nevada by offering contests and support via mailings, emailing our customers and working with partners,” Wolf says.
The tagline, “Extraordinary, Never Ordinary,” isn’t all about BVW Jewelers. It’s also about his clients. “With our brand, we want to show that everyone should be extraordinary, meaning unique,” Wolf says.
Jump Start an Artist
Community outreach and events are a big part of the BVW marketing package. BVW Jewelers implemented a “Jump Start an Artist” program, dedicated to helping one up-and-coming jewelry designer realize her dream each year. From rendering to completion, Wolf facilitates the manufacturing of the piece or pieces, including packaging, advertising and development that leads to a viable and profitable line. Once produced, BVW Jewelers offers case space to the line for one year. Jump Start allows an artist who has unique ideas and has not had their designs created an opportunity to construct their pieces while learning what each process of the production entails.
The Logo’s Book
The logo’s fleur-de-lis style represents a floral pattern that for Wolf symbolizes growth. And it’s memorable. “Having a logo with patterns sticks in the mind more than just bold letters … I like to think it’s a bit more elegant,” Wolf says.
In 2016, BVW Jewelers auctioned off a 14K white and yellow gold necklace with diamonds and rubies, sapphires and emeralds, for which 100 percent of the proceeds were donated to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. BVW Jewelers also supports the Food Bank of Northern Nevada consistently by donating a percentage of all art sales and 100 percent of the proceeds from all watch batteries sold, to support the Back-Pack Kids program. The Back-Pack Kids program at the Food Bank helps provide weekend food for children who are homeless or chronically hungry.
Marriage Equality Campaign
In 2015, Britten and Michelle Wolf launched an ad campaign promoting marriage equality in their city with a 30-second spot shown in local movie theaters. They received overwhelmingly positive reactions to the ad, in which two young women become engaged with a traditional diamond ring from BVW Jewelers and celebrate their love and commitment with a kiss. The first weekend it appeared on social media, it generated more than 20,000 impressions on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. “The day after it ran, we had a couple come in after seeing the video and basically pay for the commercial” by ordering custom rings, Wolf says. “My wife and I have always had a belief in equality.”