Dear Design Doctor
I create very contemporary jewellery, at the luxurious end of the market. My statement jewellery is mostly bought by a small group of collectors, architects and designers, who are often based in London or Europe. It’s a very niche market and I would like to sell more.
Should I be doing more international shows? Also, I want to re-brand my website, but if wonder if I need a website at all? Most of my pieces are one offs and commission based, so can’t be bought ‘of the shelf’.
Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust, answered this question as The Design Doctor in Crafts Magazine July – August 2015 (page 32) where it was titled ‘Luxury branding in a digital age’.
‘Yes, I do think it’s crucial to have a website as a small creative business.
Your website is ‘your home’ online. It’s the key to being found online (and that’s were many client relations start!), to build your credibility and trust.
It is your ‘shop window to the world’ were you can create a brand, the right online environment and experience that’s really reflecting you and your work, and will attract your exclusive clientele.
But indeed, your website will need to be very different than jewellers selling jewellery at a lower price level and at higher quantities.
Start thinking about your exact values, your signature style.
Really try to discover who your potential clients are, what age and gender, where they live and what kind of house they live in, what job they do and what media they read.
What fashion brands do they wear with your jewellery?
When will they buy your jewellery? Is there a special occasion or are they adding to their collection?
Do they buy for themselves or is it a gift?
Are you creating a family heirloom or a look-at-me-piece-of-jewellery?
And really importantly: Why do they buy and wear YOUR jewellery?
How does it make them feel? Is it about confidence, being creative and original, or being feminine and powerful?
You might find it useful to create some collages about your dream clients or write a short in-depth biography about them.
The more you understand the emotional power of your jewellery, the easier it is to create your brand and website, but also future pieces.
Next I would do some practical market research into other luxury brands that your clients like to surround themselves with. They could be other jewellers and creatives, but also think about fashion, entertainment, hotels. Look online, but also in magazines and events such as the Goldsmiths’ Fair, Inhorgenta in Munchen or Sieraad Art Fair in Amsterdam.
Start to look at how these creative luxury brands present themselves, the colours, the images, styling, type of models, logo, fonts, packaging and tone of voice. Take detailed notes as you are on a mission to discover how to create a successful brand and it’s often the very tiny details that matter!
Luxury brands often use darker, moody colours. The images are generous, with fabulous detail shots.
You might want to create a more exclusive, but personal feel, with ‘prices on application’, and open your studio ‘by appointment only’.
You can add a small stockist list of exclusive boutiques around the globe and selected events you participate in.
You can add some quotes of delighted clients or give an idea of who has commissioned you and for what occasion.
Show a professional video of you talking about your work, how you design and your creative environment.
Just give the subtlest of hints about the quality of your gems, stone setting and craft skills.
At this level customer services is crucial. It shouldn’t just be good, it needs to be extremely good. You will have very close relationships with your clients, especially if they commission pieces for important family occasions. You will need to be able to listen well, interpret the brief, create beautiful design drawings, and take them on the design journey with you.
Explaining this creative and decision making process well and confidently from the start will get you many more clients. Who often will come back again, and again. And referrals!
Referrals will be one of the most effective ways to market yourself.
Try to get your clients to recommend you to other clients but also to your wider audience and the influencers in ‘your’ niche.
Build professional relationships with specific fashion and luxury events, curators, journalists, and (personal) stylists.
Look for partnerships with other creatives, such as photographers or fashion designers, and other luxury brands.
Yes, selected international shows play a role too, as this is where you will meet your audience in person and how you can increase your profile. Send beautiful invites in the post to a small selection of your contacts to your next showcase.
But think broader about marketing.
Marketing is all about building relationships.
Focus on developing specific, long term relationships with the people you want to work with and for.
If you want to succeed in selling your jewellery to high end, creative, sophisticated audiences then everything in your business needs to be focused on that.
It’s not a quick fix.
It’s a life long journey of discovering, improving and getting it ‘just’ right, time and time again – for you, and your clients.’