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Interview with Cheryl Freund, Founder and Designer of ceejayeff

In Episode #62 of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast, I interview Cheryl Freund, a Los Angeles-based jewelry designer and the founder of ceejayeff. In this episode, we chat mostly about experiential or event marketing, since she planned her own jewelry brand launch party and then hosted it in November 2019.

Since graduating from college with an art degree in 2011, Cheryl has worked as an in-house designer for high-end jewelry manufacturers, but her need to express her individuality ultimately drove her to create her own jewelry line, which she officially launched in October 2019. Cheryl also happens to be my friend, and I love chatting with her about the jewelry industry.

In this episode, we discuss topics like:

  • What inspired her to create her own jewelry brand, and what steps did she take to prepare herself before requesting the first samples from the manufacturer? How long did that process take?
  • What were some of the biggest challenges she’s faced up to this point, and what steps did she take to overcome them?
  • Why did she choose to use the Shopify platform for her ecommerce business model?
  • Why did she feel it was important to have a launch party for her brand? What did the party planning process entail?
  • What was her goal in hosting the event? How did she attract guests to the event? What special incentives did she offer at the event
  • How did selling at the in-person event differ from selling online?

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:

4:46 – On her inspiration

“I was watching this reality TV show called ‘Terrace House’, and that was really what inspired me to just, you know, kick myself in the butt and do this thing because the Japanese are very focused on their own thing. And if you’re not doing you’re calling, something’s wrong with you, and you need to be passionate about your work, whatever it is. You don’t have to be artistic, you don’t have to be a performer, but you should love what you’re doing. So that really inspired me, and I thank the Japanese people for being who they are.”

13:00 – Why ecommerce works for her

“The Internet is always open. It’s always there. The sun is shining somewhere in the world, and someone is browsing the Internet for jewelry. So that’s where I set up shop. There’s something to be said for brick and mortar, but I don’t have the funds to invest in that kind of location. So a website was the way to go for me for now.”

16:13 – Her motivation for hosting a launch party

“The whole reason that I wanted to have this party is to share this creation with my family and friends. And I wanted them to come to my home and see my jewelry. I had a jewelry display table, and I just wanted them to come see and touch and try on everything. And if they wanted to buy, I was ready for that. The goal was to just have a fun environment where people could meet up and talk to their friends.”

19:24 – How she encouraged guests to attend

“I let everyone know that I was starting my own business. For the people that were local to me, I let them know that I had jewelry available to sell. I was going to be offering the jewelry at a discounted rate. So there was that. And then I also decided to have a giveaway, and I designed a special necklace, special pendant, and one lucky party attendee would be winning this necklace. So in exchange for an entry, you had to give me your email address for my mailing list. And that really helped me build up my mailing list.”

20:28 – Main benefit of having the party

“People do respond to seeing things in person. Even if most of the people at the party didn’t buy anything, they saw other people buying. I started a relationship with them, with the people that attended the party, and they’ll think of me when they want to treat themselves or buy a gift for a loved one. So that really breaks down the barrier of possibly being hesitant to buy online without really seeing, touching, or trying on the jewelry first. The party I think really was a worthwhile investment.”

25:54 – Events and social proof

“Well, I think that showing a bunch of people in front of a jewelry table that I’m standing behind and you know, I’m selling, and we’re having good time and everyone’s smiling. I think that is just great. I think that is all amazing social proof and it shows that, you know, I’m a real person, and I’m legitimate and people can trust me.”

28:55 – Importance of building your business slowly

“I would advise to be careful with how much product you create until you really know your customer and then you can order for stock and having a true inventory. But that won’t be until way down the line.”

Be sure to visit the ceejayeff website and check out Cheryl’s designs. You can also follow the brand on Instagram.