Interview with Brenna Pakes of JewelryNavigator.com

In Episode #42 of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Brenna Pakes, the creative force behind Jewelry Navigator, a podcast and website that guides shoppers to unique jewelry selections created by independent designers. 

A GIA Graduate Gemologist with an undergraduate degree in geology, Brenna has enjoyed nearly 20 years of retail jewelry experience as a gemologist and jewelry consultant. Through her digital media presence, Brenna promotes brand awareness for designers who create beyond commercial trends and whose designs resonate with shoppers looking to celebrate what makes them unique.

In this episode, we discuss topics like:

  • What makes her excited about sharing a jewelry brand with her audience?
  • What are the brands she thinks have excellent branding and marketing strategies, and which ones are the best at engaging with customers?
  • What does she think about the gap between customers and indie jewelry brands? Do customers lack access to indie jewelry brands?
  • What do customers want, and how can indie jewelry designers address those wants?
  • What more can indie jewelry brands be doing to find their audience and really engage with it?
  • Since Instagram has been tightening its hold on organic engagement, how can jewelry brands better connect with their customers, especially if they’re just starting out and haven’t yet built a following?

Below are some highlights from the interview with their corresponding time stamps, so you can skip to the relevant position in the interview if you’re interested in hearing more about any specific topic:

9:40 – How Social Media Is Changing for Jewelry Brands

“There are so many changes going on with social media. It seems to be kind of the buzzword, and it’s almost like, you know, the sky is falling. We’ve gotten so dependent on social media carrying a lot of the load of getting our brand and our products out in front of people. And now things are changing.”

10:38 – What Excites Her About Jewelry

“I’m looking for jewelers and designers who are aware of what makes an item of jewelry hold up well, but at the same time beautiful, whether it’s set with gemstones, or it carries itself by its design. And I’m really passionate about sharing gemstones, especially unique and unusual gemstones that people may not be aware of…So I really get lit up when I see designers taking advantage of that and expressing their design aesthetic through unique means of either colored gemstones or, you know, bringing a design together.”

14:12 – She Shares Her Picks for Indie Designers with Inspiring Marketing Strategies 

20:01 – The Disconnect Between Consumers and Indie Jewelry Designers

“I think it kind of boils down to habit. We’re used to going into a jewelry store and seeing the same thing in almost every jewelry store. Diamond engagement rings, diamond fashion jewelry, diamond pendants, ruby, emerald, sapphire stuff. So we’ve trained consumers to shop like that. But now there’s a sector of consumers who, you know, have gotten wise to that, and they seek out something different that will stand out and, you know, help them express what makes them unique.”

21:43 – The Relationship Between Brick-and-Mortar and Ecommerce

“It’s funny because for several years the brick-and-mortar stores have been shaking in their boots because of ecommerce. But now I kind of see a shift going back that people want to go to have a physical location to go to, to be able to hold and try on and touch and see the jewelry in person, so they can experience the color and understand the way it looks on them and how it feels.”

24:23 – How to Win Over Customers

“It’s most important to be very honest and have high levels of integrity as far as standing behind your jewelry designs. If something goes wrong, make sure it gets fixed. But most of all, start with high-quality materials and show up and do things that are going to make customers and clients trust you.”

27:17 – Start Locally to Grow Globally

“Designers and brands should focus on what they do well and what their brand resonates with. Then seek out those those audiences and really connect with them and start locally. To grow globally, start small. Start in your cities. Start in your town. Start holding trunk shows and work with small groups within your community to kind of get the ball rolling.”

29:20 – How to Be Less Dependent on Instagram

“I think it really just boils down to us getting down and doing the work, understanding who your ideal client and customer is and just doing what it takes to get in front of them and doing the work. Reverting back to things that work like email lists and customer service, getting in front of clients and just doing doing more of the work ourselves rather than depending on a virtual slideshow to show people our jewelry. I think it needs to get into the hands of people more than on the screens.”

To learn more about Brenna and to contact her, visit the Jewelry Navigator site or listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, and PodBean.

 

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