A new $10 million investment is set to make BaubleBar’s already-hot fashion jewelry site even hotter.
Founded in 2011 by two friends from Harvard Business School, New York-based jewelry e-tailer BaubleBar has since been setting the fashion jewelry world on fire because it understands what women want: trend-driven fashion jewelry at a really great price ($36 statement necklaces, anyone?).
A recent $10 million investment from Burch Creative Capital (as in Chris Burch, Tory Burch’s ex-husband as well as the creator of C. Wonder) will grow the site even more. But even before that, BaubleBar’s strong analytical data and 10-day sample-to-market timetable have propelled the fast-fashion site to major growth. Strong social media strategies, clever games and on-site stylists have also lent a boost.
Accessories caught up with founders Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky to chat growth, trends, their newfound investment and Skype styling sessions with consumers.
With so much fashion jewelry out there, what makes BaubleBar unique?
For one, there is no middleman. The vast majority of our products are proprietary designs conceived by our team and manufactured by international factories we work with. We have a very compressed design and production chain due to our factory relationships that allow us to bring product to market at a rapid speed. We leverage this speed to market to design and merchandise around real-time data and trends we are seeing in the marketplace, which we think really differentiates us from many other competitors that are out there. We consistently add and update new styles to the website on a weekly basis and often daily basis, which results in very high engagement and frequency of purchase among our customers.
And surely, affordable prices help frequent purchases too.
Our sweet spot is $40 to $60. The broad majority of our product mix is at an affordable price point and then some investment pieces are more expensive, so the full range is $22 to$500.
With the majority of BaubleBar merchandise private label, you’re certainly selling look first and foremost. Any partnerships?
We do work with some third-party brands in the event we feel their aesthetic is something unique and special that would resonate with the BaubleBar girl—for example Maya Brenner’s pieces. We’re also currently hosting an online “pop-up” of Cruciani C’s macramé bracelets. We recently introduced our first “Put A Bauble On It” partnership on the site which is a limited edition set of BaubleBar headphones designed with headphones company Frends. We’ll continue to explore creative ways to extend the BaubleBar aesthetic!
Trends might be emotional but you guys seem obsessed with analytical data too!
Metrics are key. The online business allows us to track how women shop and one thing we found is that jewelry tends to be trend driven as opposed to hit driven. So if there is a trend or category that is popular, women want to shop a variety of items within that trend. The great thing about e-commerce is it allows us to digest continuous consumer feedback and adjust merchandising stories accordingly. We incorporate consumer feedback–both qualitative and feedback through our data tracking–on a daily basis.
One example is the recently popularity in ear adornments, such as ear cuffs, ear jackets, etc. We saw very early on that our customers were willing to try this new style and we quickly developed a much wider selection for the summer–we added 360 studs and ear jackets to the cuffs and we cannot keep any of them in stock! Our girl really loves the new edgier style of ear adornments.
How does your SWAT stylist team help consumers make purchasing decisions?
We believe that a high-touch customer experience is a crucial component of any fashion e-commerce site. Our customers expect to be able to interact directly with our SWAT stylists, who not only answer questions but also provide general styling advice for customers. Fashion jewelry is a category that many women use to experiment with trends and to update their style, so it is especially helpful for our customers who may be trying something new.
People send pictures of and links to their outfits all the time! Our SWAT stylists then help curate a selection based on their style preferences. Often times they will create customized “look books” around those outfits using Pinterest, Polyvore or Instagram. We are incredibly focused on building relationships with our customers. Over half of our customer base interacts with BaubleBar, whether through direct interaction—like a Skype styling call—or through our social media channels
How has your Guest Bartender program brought excitement and new customers to the brand?
Each season, BaubleBar introduces a top fashion influencer/tastemaker (“Guest Bartender”) who designs a collection of jewelry to be sold on the site. We consider this the lens through which key tastemakers view us, and we consider the personal touch to be a key driver of the program’s success. Top Guest Bartenders included the girls of Honestly WTF (who kicked of this program), Courtney Kerr, Ashley Madekwe and Coco Rocha. We customize all specifics of the content format and styling so that the collection is authentic to each personality.
What about retail stores? You did have a New York City pop-up store.
While BaubleBar currently has no brick-and-mortar retail stores, we have teamed up with Anthropologie and Nordstrom locations nationwide (BaubleBars launched into Nordstrom on March 31st, 2014 in the 35 locations and online at Nordstrom.com, but since expanded its reach to all of Nordstrom’s 117 store locations beginning June 2014). The BaubleBar jewelry in Nordstrom locations is exclusive to Nordstrom but stays true to our brand and aesthetic. You will find many styles, colors and designs that are similar to BaubleBar’s core product with unique variations that offer something special for the Nordstrom consumer ranging in price from $24 to $68.
What are your hottest-selling items right now?
Statement pieces are always our best-selling styles, both in earrings and necklaces. We are seeing a trend toward new interesting organic treatments for summer, like opal and howlite. Our customer loves these materials mixed together with luxe stones.
What other trends or themes are particular not now?
Gold beats silver by a bit. That said, there is definitely always a place for statement silver styles at BaubleBar. We have been playing a lot with antiqued metals, like antiqued gold and hematite, which do well for us. We also love a good rose gold and fun material treatments like dipped metals. For holiday, we go for broke with tons of color and embellishment, and of course crystals will play huge role. We anticipate still using organic stones as well, but in more season appropriate colors.
How do you creatively engage your customers?
Our customers love our “Buried Bauble” game, which is a secret $10 to $20-dollar deal cleverly hidden on the site. We send savvy shoppers clues in emails and social media, all which further engagement.
Who are your inspirations on the runway?
Chanel and Lanvin! Each has such a fun unique take on jewelry that is absolutely covetable. Also, even though it was minimal, we liked what Proenza Schouler did. Obviously, the runways do have a big impact on what we do, but street style is definitely equally as important to us.
Would you ever add fine jewelry? Or sterling silver/bridge?
We do currently carry gold-fill and gemstone designs within our personalized section and will continue to expand our offering to ensure we’re meeting the needs of our customers.