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Soapbox & Opinions

Never lose your ‘true’ self

Six years ago, I wrote a Soapbox column for Jeweller about the changes I had seen over 25 years in the jewellery industry. I wrote about changing consumer behaviour in the light of economic, sociological and technological diversity, and the power of the internet. That article is still just as relevant today.

Over the last six years, I have seen similar shifts that are more accelerated and have infiltrated our lives in an even broader sense. Namely, there is an ever-increasing complexity and multiplicity in the digital world. To be competitive suppliers and retailers must be vigilant of the changes and the new ways of communicating to our respective audiences.

It goes without saying that all businesses need a website for exposure, branding and education. Najo has had a business-to-business website since 2007 and we recreated our website in 2012 to include a business to-consumer platform. We were one of the first Australian suppliers to go ‘online’ and were highly criticised for the move, even though many international brands selling in Australia had been doing it for quite a few years.

To be a credible business we knew it was necessary to have an online presence. Rather than be just a supplier or wholesaler, we needed to become a ‘brand’.

Four years on, we are reaching an expanding number of followers, mainly due to our website and social media campaigns. Readers hear this a lot but the exposure and interaction gained from these powerful tools cannot be underestimated.

Remember that any message you want to convey needs to be inherently your message, delivered in your style and with your intent no matter which medium you choose.

"A retail store, whether it be bricks-and-mortar or online, must be curated carefully."

The changing face of our industry is not new to any of us. Since 2010, we have seen many more jewellery brands enter the market, particularly international brands. At the same time, there has been a blurring between fine and fashion jewellery, meaning that jewellery stores now also stock fashion brands of steel and base metal.

The success of charms and the emergence of brand power means jewellers are now tempted to fill their stores with more brands at the risk of losing their store’s own individuality and personality – stores all begin to look alike, offering the same selection of brands and the same shopping experience.

How does one then stay ahead with so much competition, noise and product choice?

A retail store, whether it be bricks-and-mortar or online, must be curated carefully. By that I mean it must have a unique personality that is represented in everything aligned to the store, including the people who manage it. In other words, your store needs to be your own brand.

Quality and brand integrity have become more important than ever to consumers.

We are all more widely-travelled and can shop the world at the click of a button. We have become more discerning and we now look for brands and businesses we can trust – businesses that are authentic.

Najo is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It has been an inspiring and absolutely enjoyable journey and I have never stopped learning but it has not been without its challenges – increasing brand competition has kept us on our toes; the rise and fall of the price of silver has dictated design directions; changing fashions have made us reference current trends.

However, within all this ebb and flow, Najo has remained solid in one aspect: we have always wanted to adhere to our original design ethos and aesthetic – classic simplicity with a twist, in case you were wondering – and it trickles down into everything we do, from display and packaging to website and graphic design. In this way we endeavour to be consistent and recognisable, and I feel it is the reason we have maintained the brand over the years.

Remaining true to your passions and core values, taking risks in defining and cultivating your identity and communicating that effectively could be the essence to longevity.

Just like in the past, the jewellery industry undoubtedly will be presented with different challenges in the future. I’m not saying overcoming these challenges will be easy but I am confident we can adapt without compromising the essential nature of our businesses. Fundamentals like staying true to yourself never change ... or go out of style.

Name: Jo Tory
Position: Founder and managing director
Sydney, NSW
Years in the industry: 30

Duraflex Group Australia

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