This year I attended the first Jewelry Independent Summit in NYC, an event hosted by trade show Metal + Smith. Their website describes the event as "a platform that provides knowledge and resources to Independent Jewelry Designers and those considering a career in Jewelry through panel discussions and expert round-tables." The panels included:
- Benjamin Guttery, THIRD COAST GEMS
- Millissa Mathai, MATHAI & CO
- Meaghan Flynn Petropoulos, FOR FUTURE REFERENCE
PEER + DESIGN PANEL:
RETAIL + BUYER:
Each panel was about an hour and then followed by a brief Q&A. Since the event was 4+ hours ( and I was taking notes the entire time) it was a lot of information. I wanted to share some of the best things I heard, and while i'm tempted to transcribe the entire event, ain't nobody got time for that. Some of the following is paraphrased, or as I wrote it, and in some instances it was discussed by multiple people and therefor cant be quoted.
- Paying for advertisements on Instagram is essential if you want your content seen.
- Use Facebook (they own Instagram) to target your ads on Instagram and get very specific about the demographics you'd like your ads exposed to.
- The feature of tagging items on Instagram with the click-to-shop feature was recommended by multiple panelists, this requires a Facebook intergration.
- "There are no jewelry emergencies, shut off your phone if you are on vacation." -Page Sargisson
- Write down your goals at the beginning of every year, it will help you focus and also help you see your accomplishments.
- "Find a mentor!" -Jade Lustig
- If a store asks you to consign it never hurts to ask them to buy a few of your bestselling pieces so they have some "skin in the game".
- "Be super nice to your vendors, give them holiday bonuses and send them treats." -Ariel Gordon
- "Design a cohesive collection that has a variety of pieces, not just one type of jewelry. Boutiques will always want to offer their customers a variety of pieces that go together." -Page Sargisson
- "You live and die by your inventory!" -Jade Lustig
INSTAGRAM ADVICE FROM EVERYONE:
- "Tell your brands story!" - Ariel Gordon
- "Pretend Instagram is a store someone is walking into - respond right away to messages and comments" - Jade Lustig
- You can use Instagram to establish an initial contact with a boutique and they will likely look at your page so make sure it represents your brand.
- "Come up with unique hashtags and encourage customers and followers to use them" - Benjamin Guttery
- "Stay true to who you are, the overall aesthetic of your feed should be consistent, humor is great." - Meaghan Flynn Petropoulos
- "Conversations (comments back and forth) help your post be seen in the new algorithm. Comments must have four words or more and emojis don't count. If you act like a bot (commenting with emojis or a simple 'Nice!'), Instagram will treat you like a bot." -Benjamin Guttery
- Never buy Instagram followers or engagement, other people will know you've done this when your posts lack engagement and you will come across as unauthentic. There can also be consequences (allegedly) if Instagram catches an account purchasing engagement.
- If you do a giveaway with another brand always partner with a brand bigger than you are to increase your exposure. Their followers should be similar to your ideal customer and it should make sense for your brand. - Benjamin Guttery
- Don't post between 10-2pm this is when most people are at work.
- Participating in pods can come across as unauthentic engagement when the same 10 people are always commenting on your posts.
- If you post about items that are available at a retailer, always tag that retailer. Perhaps they will repost and you will get double exposure!
- You no longer can just post a picture and walk away, in order to get engagement you have to be engaged with others as well. Make it genuine.
RETAIL + BUYER ADVICE:
- "When you make a sale, follow up with the customer. Always provide outstanding customer service and you will build relationships." - Monika Krol
- "There have been jewelers in the past I wanted to carry, but when I visited their online shop their MSRP did not match their line sheet. so sadly I was unable to work with them as much as I loved their work." - Nicole Corriher
- "Prior to reaching out to a boutique make sure you do your research about them and make sure you are a good fit and that your work doesn't directly compete with another designer they carry." - Monika Krol
- "When contacting a buyer simply email a brief description of who you are and a single photo that will peak their interest. Also include an attached PDF of your line sheet. If your work interests me I will seek out more." - Gurki Basra
- "Please don't send samples or gifts to buyers, we can't legally accept them and you are actually creating more work for me because I now have to ship it back to you." - Gurki Basra
- Be patient after you contact a boutique or buyer, they often receive hundreds of emails a day (Barney's buyer Gurki Basra gets 600-1000 daily!) It is also your responsibility to follow up.
After the panels concluded there was a round-table for those that paid an additional fee (which I did), the choices were Influencer, Peer or Retail. I chose the Retail round-table, so that I could continue the conversation with the retailers and buyer. In my opinion I think this should be included for everyone in future summits.
Photo credit: @engagement101
The event had some very impressive speakers and I loved the candor in which they shared their experience and opinions. It was undoubtedly a great opportunity to network and after the event a bunch of people from the Metalsmith Society / Instagram community got drinks and we chatted about the day. I would say this event would be more beneficial if you are just getting started with your jewelry business. It covered many different facets of the industry in a single day.