‘TikTok will not be the fitting place to be telling this model story’ – Shiny
The move to the home office may have been associated with a surge in comfortable fashion, but when work trousers were taken off and sweatpants put on, the desire for luxury brands persisted.
“Jewelry and accessories were preferred because so many people were on Zoom all day. [and] the only thing you could [use to] earrings were accessorize, ”said Ippolita Rostagno, co-founder and CEO of Ippolita, in the Glossy Podcast.
In addition, for Ippolita, the timelessness of the brand is in line with consumers’ desire for jewelry that can endure beyond the pandemic. Rostagno, who founded the brand 20 years ago, said they focus on designing things that are relevant in the moment but at the same time have a classic feel that you will love when you buy in 10 years. “
Whether it’s down to Zoom or the Ippolita philosophy or both, the brand’s recent success is undeniable. Ippolita saw a “very strong increase” in online sales to 10% of total sales, up from 2% before Covid-19.
“People have become much more convenient to learn and form their own opinions and therefore shop online,” said Rostagno. She said however “When you are in a business, you have the opportunity to think that you are looking for something and you are finding something else. And that’s part of the retail experience that needs to be cherished and returned. “
As for Ippolita’s retail presence, while the brand will continue to work with retailers like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, “Owning our own retail store is the direction we want to take business,” said Rostagno.
Ippolita has had success with suitcase shows, which Rostagno traces back to the tangible experience customers can have with the jewelry. “[That] was the motivation to completely redesign the customer experience in my shop, which I opened in the middle of the pandemic in Chicago, ”says Rostagno.
Rostagno was inspired by the concept of a physical jewelry box when designing Ippolita’s Chicago Store. “You go into a felt box and then all the walls are magnetic and the jewelry is outside; there are no cases, ”she said of the store’s layout. “The idea is that a customer can walk up to the jewelry, try it on, look at it, feel it … before speaking to a salesperson.”
Regarding Ippolita’s virtual presence, while Ippolita has chosen to use social media platforms like TikTok to spread brand awareness, Ippolita has not followed suit. “Women buy that for themselves. This is not an occasional jewelry, this is not what husbands buy for a woman’s birthday, ”Rostagno said. “This state of mind, this sense of self-control is not aimed at a young audience, so TikTok is not the place to tell this story.”
Instead, Rostagno sees places like Milan as the right setting to let Ippolita grow. According to Rostagno, Montenapoleone, where the next Ippolita store will open, is “the street of luxury in Milan and also in Europe”. She added that she was “very confident” about the store’s future success.
Below you will find further highlights from the conversation, which have been easily edited for the sake of clarity.
Separate storytelling from the sales experience
“Since people are looking for you online first, your story needs to be there in its full form and we are constantly working to improve it. You lose the customer pretty quickly if you try to have a sales experience and a storytelling experience at the same time. But doing these things separately increases customer loyalty because when the story is online they have the option to read it when they want, not when you want to serve it to them. So that’s a good thing. I’ve made a lot of personal appearances. The personal appearance format is usually some kind of master class on how jewelry is made, how my aesthetic came about, and what design rules apply to jewelry and all those things. Most people don’t know much about jewelry – how it’s made, where it’s from. And our jewelry is very unique because we make absolutely everything from scratch. “
People are the core of success
“Everything always revolves around people; People are the core of your success, period, end of story. That’s the story. You have to have a good product, you have to have a good business proposition, and you have to have good people. Then you can run a successful business. But if you miss any of these items, it won’t work. I have of course traveled back and forth in Italy all my life; I grew up there, my family is there and I work a lot on my jewelry in Italy. And I come from Florence, which is historically a city of handicrafts and also a city that believes in art sponsorship and patronage that goes back to the Medici. That was always in my blood, and I also attended an art school. I was fully immersed in every aspect of the craft, culture, manufacturing culture, and our patronage and appreciation. In the last 30 years between my departure and now I’ve noticed a dramatic change in the culture there. And all these craft businesses closed, the internet came – the world changed almost overnight. I decided [then that] I wanted to do something very American: me [was] will try to create the best possible marketplace that specializes in all things [Americans] are not good.”
Bring the jewelry box to life
“[The new store] located at 900 Michigan Avenue, a luxury shopping mall. The room itself was a small white box. The idea we came up with was to treat this box as a jewelry box. We covered it with felt from floor to ceiling so you go in a felt box. And then all the walls are magnetic and the jewelry is outside so there are no covers. The idea is that a customer can walk up to the jewelry, try it on, look at it, feel, enjoy, understand and be surprised by it – all before speaking to a salesperson. When you asked how much it is, they already thought about what it means to them and how much they would wear it. It’s a whole different journey. I’ve always been a bit sad that something that is so intensely designed and handmade and relies so heavily on its tactical effect was always punished with the suitcase. So the idea was to get it out of the suitcase and take the suitcase with them so that the customer doesn’t even have to deal with this experience. “