EP 375: The New Age of Brick and Mortar Retail with Jennifer Gandia
Have you ever dreamed of opening your own brick and mortar jewelry business?
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Gandia, founder of Greenwich St. Jewelers.
Jennifer owns the family business with her sister and their parents. While she always loved jewelry, she was hesitant at first to step into the family biz. Especially in an age where so many businesses are online only.
However, it was late 2001 in New York City, and the independent jewelry designer movement was just taking off in the states. While working alongside her family, Jennifer gained a new appreciation for the jewelry industry.
The time period was just after 9/11 here in New York and it was the beginning of the independent designer movement in the states.
She found deep appreciation and inspiration through her connection with other artists. She loved getting to witness designers making a moment for themselves with their jewelry creations during some of the most vulnerable times of their lives.
After gaining a renewed love for the jewelry industry, she decided to take a leap of faith and open her own store.
Here’s how she did it…
Leaning on Community Support
One tough thing about opening an independent store is that you don’t always have a community.
Community support is critically important for every small business owner, and it can be very difficult to find when you’re first getting started.
Jennifer stresses the importance of finding the right spaces to connect with like-minded people in your industry.
“Having an outside perspective and advice can be crucial to a great business,” she explains. Jennifer suggests finding other store owners in non-competing cities.
You need people in your industry who you can pick up the phone and call when you get stuck. People who you can trust to give you useful advice as you’re learning to navigate the landscape as an independent store owner.
Selling Wholesale as an Independent Designer
Jennifer has a unique perspective as a wholesaler looking for independent designers to feature in her store.
When Jennifer was just starting out, she worked with a lot of designers who wouldn’t necessarily be the best fit for her store now. But at the time, she was still getting her footing, and was more open to various design points of view.
“I would encourage designers to go out and look for the stores that are just starting out,” Jennifer says. It can be a great opportunity to get your foot in the door.
Because so many clothing and lifestyle stores are selling jewelry now, there are more opportunities than ever!
You Have To Be In It To Win It
Jennifer let me in on her best piece of advice for beginning designers.
She says the key to building up your business is consistency, commitment, and a willingness to take your time in making your product the best quality that you can afford.
These are great tips, but in her mind, the most important aspect to really carve out a space for your own designs is originality.
Originality that is not only unique, but well executed, shows commitment and passion to other business owners and potential partners. (Her Astra Collection is a great example of this).
Be sure to listen to the full episode above as Jennifer shares her story on how she built her jewelry business initiative by initiative and failure to failure, how she upgraded to her own brick and mortar store, and how you can do the same!
More Resources for Jewelry Designers