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The Economy and My Immediate Role…

27 Aug

First let’s talk about the economy.

Today marked a flag that saw back in 2007. The flag today was regarding insider selloff. That’s when executives of major brands are selling off their stock.

Back in 2007 and 2008 I was building a theme park with a group of people. I knew before anyone else at the company that we were headed for a major recession. Computer science people in charge of servers noticed changes in the analytics and changes in the traffic patterns. Those changes occurred before everyone started putting two and two together.

I haven’t seen the same patterns happen yet but I am obviously wondering if it will happen.

For the past 1 3/4 years I’ve had a major client that operates in the luxury good sector. When I say “jewelry” people mistakenly think of something like a Kay Jewelers. I can unequivocally tell you this business model is nothing like a Kay Jewelers. Kay Jewelers targets people with incomes of $75,000 to $100,000 per year and their parent company owns many of the mall spaces that you know like Jared’s. Their stones are small. The jewelry is factory made. Quality is not the hallmark of these kinds of stores.

The business that I’ve now worked with for years deals in large diamonds. The kind that most jewelry stores can not obtain because they don’t have that kind of industry credit. Most are looking for five to 10 carats because 5 CTS is where investment grade begins. The jewelry is handmade. The store has several Guinness Book of Records pieces. Those stones are the largest that the world knows about. Everything is 18K or Platinum. We have a 17.57 CT D Flawless Diamond. There are many only 10 diamonds in the entire world that are this size and perfection. We are not and never will be the Kay Jewelers of the World. They are located on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. I recently visited the Champs Elysees in Paris and I can tell you it has nothing on Worth Avenue.

Where this gets very tough comes on two fronts. One is that the diamond industry has already been struggling with prices that are set by Debeers. The diamond industry is pretty much a monopoly. Debeers controls the supply in order to control the price. They only approve 100 buyers. Even the buyers say that they can’t buy a diamond from Debeers and be able to profit off of it right now. It’s a very tough industry.

Translate that to the online world. I can absolutely tell you that large diamond rings and jewelry good enough for royalty is not purchased through a web site. People use the web site and social media to look and decide what kind of jewelry they would like. They watch us very closely for style and for how that jewelry is displayed with fashion. The photography work is very important. The new website put in place over a year ago has been crucial for gaining in traffic. We do see gains repeatedly. What I find is that people like to look online and then when they want to buy, no one buys a 10 CTS diamond without seeing it first. So a lot of what I do is the credibility card. The introduction. The trend setter.

In many ways, this kind of business is the same as selling the world’s mega yachts. And if you know that business you know that recessions can be very hard on luxury goods. But the one thing to keep in mind is that diamonds are hard assets. They don’t wildly fluctuate in value like a stock that you may own in a portfolio. The size and quality of a diamond determines if it is investment grade.

I had to make a decision recently about whether to stay or go with this brand. I have a lot of loyalties because I care about the family that built this brand. It is a business that truly needs every talent I have to offer, which are diverse as you know. I have worked very hard for 30 years to have a diverse and excellent skill set. I am staying and I am sticking it out knowing that if we end up in a recession, we may very well put every genius idea into this and still take a beating just like 2007-2008. I sincerely hope that it doesn’t happen. But if it does, I think businesses like that need people like me.

It’s never an easy decision when you let one client take over all your time. If I look at the people involved, for me it’s a relatively easy and sound decision because we’ve managed to work through some very difficult challenges. And I’ve been handed some enormous challenges from which I don’t back down. Do I still represent other businesses? Yes. But make no doubt, there’s one brand that owns the majority of my time.

Let me count off the areas of impact that I’ve had and what I need to continue:

The new web site – this made an enormous impact on our traffic. There are still many areas that we want to change and restructure. There are also upgrades to the server and software that I need to make.

Photographing, building out and scheduling of all the social media content. We would be nothing without the people who follow us and encourage us to do it. I work hard to try to spin things in a fresh approach.

The print advertising in covers, ads, special sections because sometimes people just want to hold it in their hands. And when you’re in the context of an expensive magazine, it does exactly that – it puts you in context.

Where we’ve fallen down is not putting enough effort into digital marketing. We’ve also not done email marketing because that can’t happen until the inventory management system is finished. That is the mother of all beasts as far as I’m concerned. That system will catalog the inventory and tie it to the web site, the accounting system, and will serve as the in store POS. When we took this on, I had no idea that I, as one person would have to build out the whole thing. We could not import the data because the old record keeping did not hold up on the test imports. So the data had to be manually put into the system for the best accuracy. Of course, I’ve had to learn a tremendous amount about jewelry on the way in this journey.

When I first started two years ago, I couldn’t tell a Ceylon Sapphire from a Tanzanite. I, like every other person not educated in diamond, thought that carat weight pertained to size. The larger the carats the bigger in diameter right? Not true. That’s only true if it’s a round diamond. If it’s not round, carat weight doesn’t pertain to size.

And one of the largest challenges has been to identify and market to potential candidates for the Guinness pieces. I built the mother of all databases on wealth, who it belongs to and their home addresses. Even in the context of modern data mining techniques, that information doesn’t necessarily come easily. But I found it, identified it, classified it and now I’m working my way down a list. It’s a very expensive and personal thing to send a complete packet on a Guinness item. If you received one, it means you were hand selected for that particular piece based on a number of criteria.

There has also been trade show planning and sometimes representation.

There are also times when I’ve had to step up to the plate to be the model. It’s totally ironic that I’ve been single for over 25 years and yet now had probably over 100 of the world’s finest engagement rings on my hands. Some time I’ll have to write a post about which ones would be my pick and why based up what I know about the stones.

And then there’s the hardest one of them all – on rare occasion I have to step in to sit at the front desk and sell when everyone is out. That’s when you start pulling all this information that you’ve typed into the web site and records from your head as you look at piece and explain it to someone. You’re not explaining something that someone would buy at a Kay Jewelers. You are explaining an important piece of jewelry. One that is complex and with a history.

I have learned through the years to never underestimate the value of the people who sell these kinds of pieces every day. It takes a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. It’s just like the details that I have to know about servers, coding, SEO, SMM, pay per click, photography, print production, layout and design, marketing of any type. What I do is very detail and specific as is what they do.

If this economy does turn south again, what we are up against will not be easy. But at least we truly have a team of experts. And as I’ve said before, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge. People that have not failed have not pushed themselves far enough. I learned that with Hard Rock Park and then I tested what I already knew – that I was capable of even more and that’s what I did if you look at my track record. We failed because of what happened in the economy in 2007-2008. You can let something like that bring you down (which it will for a temporary period of time) or you can learn from it and become strong and let it propel you forward.

So with all that said, you might now understand why I would choose to stay in an industry during a challenging time. I sincerely hope that we are not heading into that kind of period again.

I’ve had many people tell me that I make it look easy. Trust me, there are many parts of what I do for a living that are not easy.

But there’s one thing you can be sure of :

Challenges that test your character, can later define you.

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