I just returned from attending and speaking at the Instore Magazine, Smartshow at Navy Pier in my hometown. The educational seminars started on Friday and the show officially opened on Saturday. I was honored on Friday to be asked to introduce the keynote speaker, David Liu CEO of The Knot, the premier wedding, bridal lifestyle website. The Knot has grown since 1996 to be the number one destination for to-be-weds in the country. David was fascinating and very personable with amazing statistics and recent survey information to share with the assembled jewelry store owners and managers (I was able to chat privately with David about where he saw our industry going and he replied that we now have the digital technology to treat all of our clients as if they were our most special client. he gave me a couple of great ideas that you will see soon in our gallery). I was also asked to moderate a session where David invited three, Chicago area, to-be-wed couples to be on a panel to answer questions from myself and the other attendees. The couples were incredibly honest and sincere with all their observations and comments. Two of the couples gave high marks to Steve Quick Jewelers in Chicago for their personable service. The audience was able to interview the couples (with my moderating the conversation) to glean valuable suggestions of how to alter their own client interactions and to better design a customer experience in their own stores. David was able to show how The Knot’s current data survey, with over 10,000 responses, was perfectly reflected by the responses given by his three, to-be-wed couples.
I also was able to spend some quality time observing the bench challenges which were a sort-of Olympic games for the best hands-on jewelers in the country. Wax carving, stone setting, hand engraving and CAD design challenges were displayed on large flat-screen monitors for everyone to follow the handwork. I was also privileged to meet Jim Tuttle, who owns one of the largest (if not the largest) custom design studio in the country, based in Seattle, Washington. His huge operation is called Green Lake Jewelry Works and employs upwords of 40 craftsmen. Jim was a pleasure to talk with and was very generous in sharing some of his best methods with me. He brought a few of his jewelers with him to compete in the challenges and we all were able to enjoy a fun dinner together including Cindy and Terry Chandler who ran the education of the show. I was thrilled to be sitting around the table with the current “hotshots” of my industry. I was also able to enjoy one of the most amazing dining experiences of my life at the Chicago eatery, “Moto”. The diner to my right was one of the partners of the Denver Broncos and he had brought his 13 year old son from Denver, just to try the restaurant. If you are ever in the Windy city, book a reservation at Moto and try Tapas from the 22nd century! Ok, aside from food, I was able to try some of the newest jewelry tools coming available and to experience how social media is influencing the jewelry industry. Feel free the next time you stop in the gallery to ask me about some of the show highlights and to view the unbelievable, Ethiopian opal I brought back with me.
Now that I’m home, I definitely feel smarter…and more proud of my own jewelry team!