CONSUMERS TRUST SMALL BUSINESS FOR HOLIDAY & FORMAL JEWELRY
Did you notice the emphasis this year on supporting small business in Christmas shopping? Conventional wisdom says this is smart because small business is the backbone of the American economy. But how much does putting out the message help the Christmas season for small fashion businesses, especially when they are always competing with big box companies?
A far more effective way to draw consumers to small business is offering the fashion accessories that shoppers trust small retailers for far more than they trust the majors. We discovered 12 categories that do just that and covered the first nine in the last two blogs. Now let’s look at the last three, which are in the holiday or the formal jewelry and accessories area.
10) HOLIDAY JEWELRY—RHINESTONE SETS
Restaurants, clubs, and ballrooms offer special dining and entertainment every New Year’s Eve. This gives couples the opportunity to dress up and enjoy a romantic evening out. Women go shopping for the knockout apparel that will turn heads that night and plenty of retailers will be competing for the sales. But accessorizing the dresses is left mainly to small business because they have the abundant options to make the perfect match for the outfit.
Rhinestone necklace sets will be high on the shopping list for these consumers. Nothing seems more traditional than rhinestone for New Year’s Eve, but most major retailers have a very limited selection. It’s small business that has showcases of options because they specialize in the glitzy look all year. Yes, when New Year’s Eve is gone for another year, small business will have the glamorous jewelry for proms, bridal, pageant, and balls while the majors are changing their showcases to a casual look.
Small retailers offer the traditional looks that many women are comfortable with as well as the edgy designs that are rising in fashion. This season look for the glamorous looks in rhinestone that you would expect in the diamond jewels of royalty. Designs fit for a queen, grace the neck with lavish crystals surrounded by smaller rhinestones. This tasteful extravagance is the ballroom look for this New Years Eve.
When we think of rhinestone jewelry, sets crafted from rhinestone chain come to mind. This look actually never existed before World War II because the machine to produce the rhinestone chain hadn’t been invented yet. Before that, rhinestone jewelry was limited to handset stones that we call crystal jewelry today. And these crystal sets are back in a big way because of the fashion trend of statement necklaces. This has carried over into formal jewelry and crystal necklace sets deliver with larger stones and bold statements.
With bracelets so big in trends, we can’t overlook crystal bracelets that add a glamorous accessory to the wrist. Crystals again provide bold, sparkling designs that will stand out for holiday wear—everything from bracelets inspired by Art Deco to the gorgeous look of The Golden Age of Costume Jewelry. This really adds excitement to a New Year’s Eve ensemble and where do you find it—at the small retailer locations that not only have the wide selection, but provide personal service in putting together the perfect look.
11) GLITZY EARRINGS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Not every holiday dress is going to accommodate a necklace set and this is where earrings really step up to add the glamour. Options abound in glitzy earrings. Remember the chandeliers from a few years ago? Well they never went away. New designs deliver all the sparkle a girl could want with crystals and motion glimmering with every move.
If shoppers prefer something more traditional, the small retailers specializing in formal jewelry will have a host of rhinestone earrings from conservative size to shoulder duster length. Cascades, buttons, hoops, linear earrings, colored rhinestones—where else can you find this selection? And where else can shoppers get personal service that will have you leaving satisfied with accessories that really set off an outfit.
Don’t overlook crystal earrings. Small businesses have plenty of options for every hair do and outfit. Crystal earrings can have the very feminine look of filigree settings as well as dramatic buttons, bold drops, or the elegance of glimmering crystals in silver plating with black epoxy contrast—so stunning for New Year’s Eve. To find all these options, shoppers must visit small retailers with a focus on formal jewelry because the big box stores seldom have the variety or the personal service.
If we think back a few years, it seems like there was a new trendy fashion item every Christmas. In 2004 it was initials on accessories, in 2005 sequin handbags, and in 2006 crystal brooches. That year the showcases of department stores sparkled with brooches. Each item faded away except the crystal brooches that seem to be here to stay.
But even crystal brooches faded away in the department store showcases while demand continued. The gorgeous designs draw a lot of inspiration from the first half of the twentieth century—Art Nuevo, Art Deco, and designs from The Golden Age of Costume Jewelry. Brooches make wonderful Christmas gifts for Mom, for office gift exchanges, and for other special occasions like bridesmaid gifts. But the only reliable supplier is small businesses specializing in glitzy and formal jewelry.
Demand is high. According to Google, there are 450,000 searches for per month for brooches and another 673,000 searches for brooch. That means customers are looking for brooches and this is a wonderful opportunity for small business.
A high number of major businesses started as small businesses. Popeye’s Fried Chicken began with one chicken house in Arabi, La. Ugg boots took hold in the US when the Australian, Brian Smith, sold them to surfers in California. This is a small sampling of the importance of small business to the US economy. In addition to being the incubator for larger businesses, small business hires nearly half the US workers and is the engine for employment with 65% of new hires.
So survival of small business is important. Retailers can zero in on areas of fashion where consumers trust them more than they trust the big box companies and consumers need to keep small business in mind when shopping.
In the fast pace of the Christmas buying season, how is small business doing compared to the majors. According to the US Small Business Administration, nearly half the employment in the US and 65% of new hiring comes from small business so their survival is vital to the American economy. There is a push this year to make consumers aware of supporting small business in their Christmas shopping. But ask someone if that reflects in their buying pattern, and most will embarrassingly say no.
If that isn’t working, something is. There are a number of items that consumers simply trust small business for over the majors when shopping. In fashion accessories we covered headwear and accessories in Part I and now let’s move forward with fashion jewelry.
5) STATEMENT NECKLACES
If there is anything radically different on the fashion scene in jewelry this year it would be statement necklaces. These brash works in metal strutted the runways of fashion shows and stunned readers on the covers of fashion magazines. But they are just a little too edgy for department stores and most of the majors.
These retailers like more toned-down style with the classy look often inspired by The Golden Age of Costume Jewelry. The Golden Age began in the 1930s during The Great Depression and extended through the 1960s with the most creative houses in costume jewelry delivering elegant works.
But glamorous jewelry didn’t stand unopposed in that era. A rebellious statement in jewelry countered these fabulous creations with hand-made works, mostly in metals, that expressed art with primitive designs. A look back on this medium collects the works into a category called Mid-Century Modern. No doubt, this had to be some of the inspiration going into the bold statement necklaces created in metals dominating high fashion this fall and winter.
Now where do fashion forward consumers find this look when shopping for themselves or others this Christmas? Certainly not in an upscale department store! No, only small business provides the high fashion look that has been dominating the runways. So when it comes to forward fashion and edgy designs, consumers know small business is the only answer.
6) QUALITY CHRISTMAS JEWELRY
Looking back twenty years in the jewelry industry, Providence, Rhode Island was the center of American jewelry manufacturing. Many businesses were cottage industries that specialized in aspect of production—linking, carding, soldering, casting, plating. But competition from China with lower prices and gradually improving quality dismantled the American industry piece by piece.
Then an economic slowdown caused Chinese manufacturers, importers, and major retailers to be extremely cautious. Seasonal jewelry was a risk because sell through had to occur in a short period of time. So the 2011 Christmas season is woefully short of quality Christmas jewelry that is traditionally part of the holiday spirit. Consumers wear it to work, while shopping, and to family gatherings. It’s as much of Christmas as stockings hanging from the mantle. But with short supply, where do shoppers find this quality Christmas jewelry that delighted everyone in years past?
Small retailers are suddenly the go-to source for classy Christmas jewelry. They do not need a massive inventory to satisfy their clientele and they have an uncanny instinct to find resources.
When consumers want to express the holiday spirit with charm bracelets that have enameled charms in Christmas colors or quality glass bracelets with lampwork beads, most likely the only source is the small retailer.
Classy resin pins in creative designs make wonderful stocking stuffers as well as accent pieces to spread holiday cheer, but this Christmas they may be hard to find outside of small business.
Pendants and earrings stamped from a thin sheet of metal with art and personality that is irresistible—you guessed it—only small business. “Best Brand” is the creator of these works of art and this line of fashion jewelry is so labor intense that it is simply impossible to supply the high quantities the majors would want. Each piece goes through stamping, plating, polishing, and often enameling for color. The finished product makes any consumer proud to give it as a Christmas gift, but this exceptional jewelry will only be found at small retailers.
7) PENDANTS AND EARRINGS
Actually, Christmas jewelry is only the tip of the iceberg for “Best Brand”. Their selection of pendants and matching earrings covers nearly every look in fashion plus endless themes. The workmanship is so fine that the company proudly has its name impressed on the back of each piece. And we are equally as proud to distribute the line, which we know from sales records goes exclusively to small business.
Just look through the pendant line and you will find something for nearly every event or location. And most pendants have matching earrings. On our site an items number is preceded by PD for pendants and FS for earrings. To find a matching earring simply change the PD to FS and put the code in the search box.
Most businesses buying this line follow a theme. It could be sea life for beach locations, horse and Southwest themes for a western store, motorcycles for a bike shop, baseball for little league fundraisers, and the list goes on. So where do consumers find this exceptional line of fashion jewelry—only at small retail locations.
8 ) LOCAL THEMES AND NICHE MARKETS
This brings us to another excusive of small business–local themes and niche markets. No national retailer will understand local interests as well as the small businesses that live and operate in the area. What a huge advantage this gives to the small retailer!
We are located in South Louisiana. If you watch Swamp People, you get a glimpse of a piece of our culture—Cajun music, crawfish boils, seafood, and the home of seasonings and hot sauces. The themes in jewelry that goes to the heart of locals is not found in major retailers. No, it is small business and often local artists. The same is true in every locale.
Even sports from local high schools that everyone has, to avid fans of college teams provides opportunity for small business. The LSU vs. Alabama game was billed the game of the century. Licensed jewelry for both teams is found on our web site and small businesses certainly have a market for it with all the dedicated fans these two teams have.
Now back to the local high schools. Small business can rally capitalize on this theme because no manufacturer can afford to produce a line for such a small market. Begin with school colors. Glass bracelets on the site provide a variety of two-tone color and most likely your colors are there. Next use the search to find your mascot in pendants and earrings. If it isn’t there, choose pendants for the sport such as football related pendants and earrings. These slide on chokers found under fashion jewelry. To really make the jewelry pop for your high school add school color. Pick beads in the right color from loose beads on the menu. These beads have a 4mm opening so they can slide on many chokers so make sure some of your chokers will accommodate the beads. Group all the pieces together in your shop to tell a story and sell individually so your customers can build their own look.
This the advantage small fashion retailers have that helps them overcome the heavy hitters in the majors.
9) GEMSTONE JEWELRY
The flight to quality in fashion jewelry dates back to the shocking tragedy on September 11, 2001. Suddenly family, prayer, and heroism trumped bling that was the trend of the day. Fashion jewelry went through a worldwide search for art and materials that were classic.
Crystal, Murano style glass, lampwork beads, and gemstone jewelry were some of the mediums that captured that attention of retail customers. But gemstone jewelry continues while interest in other forms of fashion jewelry receded. Department stores still grace their showcases with a few selections of semi precious jewelry, but small business is where consumers will find the extensive selection.
Yes, demand remains high because semi precious jewelry has intrinsic value and unique design that synthetics can’t duplicate. Department stores left lots of change on the table by moving on. Every time I am in a department store, I look at their showcases. Season after season turquoise and coral return. In addition, each season has at least one other semi precious stone included in fashion jewelry–amethyst was a recent example. But demand is exceeding this limited supply and customers that have grown to love the intrinsic beauty of semi precious jewelry know that the only place to really find selection is in a small retail location.
The blog that follows will wrap up the fashion accessories where small business excels with a look at the formal side of jewelry and accessories.