How Independent Jewelry Designers Can Connect with Celebrities
There's a right and wrong way to connect with celebrities.
One thing I learned early on in my career as jewelry designer was not all advice is good advice.
Even business coaches and consultants can lead you in the wrong direction if they're not experienced in your industry.
A few years ago, a friend of mine told me her business coach advised her to gift some jewelry to one of his prominent friends.
He was thinking since she was a prominent figure in her community, it might help my designer friend by getting some good publicity. By giving her a free piece of custom jewelry, it might drive referral business down the road.
This wasn't sound advice for many reasons.
As I was reading her email, I knew she didn't want to follow this advice, but couldn't put her finger on why.
If you're trying to get more exposure for your jewelry brand, connecting with celebrities seems like a great way to do it! But giving your jewelry away should be a very rare event.
Money Equals Value
In my first business, stylists and PR reps often approached me about giving jewelry away for free. It was exciting at first! I imagined a total A list celebrity wearing a piece I designed, and having customers flock to my website to put in their custom order. I fell for the trap a few times, and never saw great sales from it.
Why? Because money equals value. Celebrities have money to spend, and if you're giving them stuff for free, chances are they'll stop seeing your brand as high end or valuable.
Plus, you have to remember celebrities get free stuff all the time. So you'd need to make a huge impression on them to stand out from the crowd. There are some circumstances where gifting a piece of jewelry to a celebrity is a great way to promote your brand. Most of the time, there's no way to tell if it's boosting sales.
Avoid Impersonal Efforts
Traditional methods of connecting with celebrities for your jewelry brand don't work. Things like gifting suites, swag bags, and sending free jewelry don't make the impression they once did.
Most independent jewelry brands won't have a reason to participate in gifting suites. The reality is, most A list celebrities don't attend the suites anyway. It's really expensive and there's no way to tell if you're driving sales from it.
If you take the word “celebrity” out of the picture and think about the last time you received a gift bag, what happened? Chances are you maybe used one or two things and donated the rest. I can almost guarantee you didn't go buy more from that brand or tell your friends about it. Especially with something as hit or miss as jewelry, the odds are you won't see sales from it.
In the case of my friend who was told to give her jewelry to a micro celebrity, that can be tricky, too. You have to keep the perceived value of your brand high to your dream clients.
If you start giving things away, people see it as less valuable. Use yourself as an example, if your favorite high end clothing brand started giving away free shoes – wouldn't you be skeptical?
Sending your jewelry directly to a celebrity is a risk because sometimes they don't ever receive it. They aren't checking their mail and going to the post office, their assistant is. Their job is to sort through what's important and what isn't. So if you're going to send something, make sure you get permission first.
Focus on Building Relationships
In my first jewelry business, Tracy Matthews Designs, I had the opportunity for several celebrities to wear my jewelry.
It's amazing and exciting, and definitely a credibility booster. Over the years, I've made a lot of money because of those endorsements.
However, I didn't use a PR firm or those traditional “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” methods. I built relationships with the right people.
When my business gained some traction, I found out my friend knew a celebrity stylist and asked for an introduction.
I quickly became friends with this stylist and over time, asked if any of her clients would be a good fit for my jewelry. In this case, it was a no brainer to say “yes” when my friend asked if someone from American Idol could have a piece of jewelry. Why? Because it was hand selected by a trusted stylist.
Ideally, you work with stylists who are willing to purchase your merchandise for the show/movie that they are working on. The wardrobe departments have budgets, which is awesome. The stylist might buy directly from you or from a store that carries your work.
I also had a great relationship with certain stylists who I gave work too. Because I had developed a working relationship with them, they were grateful that I sent free product and it was featured over and over on the shows increasing my exposure.
Working on a loan basis with a stylist or PR person
This is my favorite way to work and I had a lot of success here. By developing a relationship with a stylist, they remember you and will continue to call your work in. I have had several of my pieces worn and photographed on celebrities using this method.
Once the pieces are called in, anything that is not used is returned. The pieces that are used are returned after they are worn in some cases. However, often times I never saw them again. In a few cases, the celeb purchased the piece from me or I decided to gift it to them.
If you have a collection that the stylist adores, you have pretty good chances that your pieces will be seen. It is hit or miss so sometimes it takes a little persistence.
Giving away your jewelry for free should only be done if it's going to boost your credibility and social proof in the eyes of your dream clients. Giving jewelry to a celebrity your ideal customers never follow or don't like isn't a good marketing strategy. Before connecting with celebrities, make sure the rest of your business is in order. Have your social media channels, website, and collection polished and ready to impress!
You never know who might be checking you out!
What do you think about giving away jewelry “SWAG” to Celebs? Have you had success that translated into sales?