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Interview with Nan Lung Palmer, Jewelry Merchandising and Product Development Consultant

In Episode #21 of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Nan Lung Palmer, the owner of Facets, a business-to-business consulting agency for both emerging jewelry designers and established jewelry companies.

Before starting her consulting business in 2016, Nan spent nearly two decades working for big names like Macy’s, Finley Fine Jewelry, David Yurman, and other nationally recognized designers. Now she helps brands fine tune their merchandising strategies and guide product development for growth and success. Nan serves as the president in Colorado for the Women’s Jewelry Association, and she’s a diamond and color stone graduate of G.I.A. with a Bachelors of Science in Merchandising Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology. If all that hasn’t impressed you, then you’ll just have to listen to the interview to be blown away by her knowledge.

In this episode we discuss topics like:

  • How should an indie designer vs. a larger jewelry brand approach product development and merchandising?
  • What types of information and data can a jewelry brand use to guide product development?
  • What role do merchandising and product development play in a jewelry brand’s branding and marketing strategies?
  • When’s the right time for a jewelry brand to focus on merchandising and product development?
  • When’s the right time for a jewelry brand to work with a merchandising or product development consultant?
  • How should a brand go about choosing the right consultant?

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:

10:30 – Running a Successful Jewelry Business Requires a Fine Balance Between Creativity and Analysis

“If I’m working with an emerging new designer there might be definitely more creativity involved in that. Also one of the things that I see is if you’re involved with being creative just all day every day you get burnt out, just like if I’m in numbers all day everyday. If I’m putting my nose in my Excel spreadsheet and doing formulas and building macros, it’s like with any data, you get burnt out. I think being successful at what you do is a mix of both. Some days it might be more creative, and some days it might be more analytical. But you know I think this is where you kind of become a chameleon and just morph into – what is the most important thing that you’re working on that day?”

14:00 – It’s Important to Marry Data with Gut Feeling

“It’s important to data, but I also marry that with trend – what’s going on out there in the industry. You know, like what’s going on out there in the fashion world? Because that distills into the jewelry industry of course. What are the colors that are really hot this year?”

15:39 – A Designer’s Goal Should Be to Pay Herself

“Another thing that we see is that designers are almost afraid to pay themselves, which I’m like that is the number one rule. Always pay yourself because it’s not viable. It’s not scalable if you don’t pay yourself. You should get rewarded for the work that you’ve done. If you have a passion for making or designing jewelry, this might sound harsh, but it’s a hobby if you’re not making money.”

23:55 – Product Development Must Communicate with Marketing

“I can sit in my office day in and day out just looking at numbers and figuring out what is a general trend out there. But then if my marketing team is working on something different like, ‘We’re focusing this month on rings because we’re seeing a big cocktail ring trend’ and then I’m in my office like ‘Oh no, the bib necklace is really popular right now’. Those two things are not going to communicate, especially in an omni channel retail environment.”

30:41 – Listen to Your Customers

“It’s one thing to sit there and design or produce jewelry. It’s another thing to really listen in to what your end customers are saying whether you’re online or you’re brick and mortar and online. It’s really listening to who is actually buying your product what are they saying about it.”

45:25 – Jewelry Designers Should Go With Their Heart

“I would always advise designers to just go with your heart. If you have a passion, pursue it. Designers are always asking, ‘When should I stop? How do I know that I don’t want to do this anymore?’ I’m like, ‘You would know because you wouldn’t be doing this now if it wasn’t something that you believe in and you love.’ And no matter how many consultants or buyers or people are coming up to you, no matter what they say, just listen to your heart.” 

To learn more about Nan and to contact her, visit her website. Nan will be giving her seminar “Turning Data into Dollars” at Polygon’s 35th Anniversary Conclave & Trade Event in San Diego on April 6th and at 2019 Conclave in Seattle, Washington on April 10th.