With the holiday rush behind us, you may be looking at the year ahead, thinking hard about brand strategy and the long game when it comes to product innovation, prepping for trade shows and trunk shows, and building momentum for a successful 2023. As we mentioned in this article, assessing your current staff’s performance—and the business’s needs for potential new hires—should be a key component of your annual review of how the previous year’s objectives and tactics paid off.
Right now, the macro conversation about staffing and hiring trends is centered on two key topics: 1) the great need for new talent and staff but not enough applicants, qualified or otherwise and 2) retaining the employees businesses already have. (The Forbes article “Here’s How the Workforce Will Look in 2023” by career expert Ashley Stahl provides a good overview of the landscape that many business owners will be navigating in this regard.)
These two topics square with what Susan Posnock, director of public affairs and information at Jewelers of America (JA), has observed in conversation with retailers and as part of her latest project: updating JA’s online Career Guide to reflect the changing face of the jewelry industry’s job opportunities and pathways to growth in the post-pandemic era. “We’re looking to make it a guide that is more attractive to a younger, more diverse population,” she says. “We surveyed our members last summer, and definitely there’s a lot of frustration in terms of being able to find good people, keep and retain them. We need to get young people interested in the industry. That’s the only way that it’s going to continue to evolve.”
If your goal is to keep your business and vision fresh, Posnock believes investing in new talent is key. “I can’t say for an individual business how much that they should invest. But I think it’s something that will keep the industry from getting cobwebs—the more you have new people coming in, the better. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve started the 20 Under 40 program. They’re a great group of people in the industry who are young and have great ideas. And we need to continue to foster that. And you can’t foster that if you don’t invest.”
Even if budgets are tight, investing in new a social media specialist, or a new creative director to spearhead a brand refresh can pay off in the long run. The imperative for retailers, according to Posnock, is to make their businesses an attractive place to work (tip: don’t say “fast-paced” in job descriptions—use the world “exciting” instead because the former suggests an environment that will leave you overworked and overwhelmed). “Think about the role [you’re looking to fill], what’s great about it, and why people would want to work for you,” says Posnock. “I do think there’s good people everywhere, but the work of attracting them is going to be on the businesses.”
Meanwhile, plenty of Plumb Club Members have recently invested in top talent to help set them up for success in 2023. These fresh perspectives have resulted in more compelling product assortments, more sophisticated guidance and tools when it comes to supporting retailer partners, and more.
Below, we spotlight some key new hires from a few Plumb Club Members whom you will hopefully get to know on a personal level this year.
Priscila Hueb, vice president, merchandising and brand development, A. Jaffe
Though Hueb joined A. Jaffe in February 2022, the full impact of her involvement will manifest itself this year, especially when it comes to product development. Prior to joining A.Jaffe, Hueb was the creative director for Hueb, a luxury design company that worked with Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Neiman Marcus among others.
Her accomplishments thus far: a new brand-book “setting clear guidelines for our positioning and growth as a brand for the long-term, always focusing on supporting our retailers to grow their own businesses,” she explains. A new campaign shot in the summer has “completely revamped our Instagram and website” while the brand’s network of retailers has also been using the high-quality imagery to dazzling effect. And early this year, A.Jaffe will unveil a new fashion lined produced under Hueb’s creative direction. “The designs are a byproduct of a lot of market research and a deep belief that jewelry should always be as feminine as possible,” she says.”
Brad Campbell, chief partnership officer, and Sushil Choksey, partner, IDD
IDD is hoping to shake up the industry with a brand new division called IDD Luxe. By using data-driven insights, IDD Luxe aims to create fresh products and processes that appeal to the modern consumer. This new division was created by IDD President and CEO Alok Mehta, who recently brought on two experts to help bring his vision to life: Brad Campbell, who will serve as chief partnership officer, while longtime IDD partner (a.k.a. the “Bridal Buddha”) Sushil Choksey will consult on strategy.
Campbell has more than 40 years of executive experience in the diamond jewelry trade, serving as president and vice president of merchandise at Morgan Jewelers, a member of the buying committee for the Leading Jewelers Guild, and a sought-after retail solutions coach and consultant.
“My goal is to draw from my learned experiences and transfer that knowledge to make a real difference for our IDD Luxe partners,” he says. “I’ve been in the trenches and understand the needs of both sides of our business which is what drives me. Sushil and I, along with our entire team, plan to raise the bar strategically with a new approach to the business.”
With his almost 30 years of global diamond and jewelry experience, Choksey brings unique insights and strategy expertise to the development of IDD Luxe. The new division, he says, will be far from basic and offer a new vision of luxury that is “purpose driven and intentional” and based on the “intelligence and practicality of today’s evolved consumer.”
“With my good friend and respected colleague, Brad, we will build a dialog of authenticity and bring a compelling and refreshing lens view that will stir the pot in a good way for our retail partners,” he adds.
Shawn Molloy, account manager, Chic Pistachio
Like many of us in the industry, Shawn Molloy has a passion for “all things sparkly, especially diamonds and fine jewelry.” And she’s been able to cultivate this point of view through her previous roles at some top-tier jewelry brands including Hearts on Fire and Swarovski. At Chic Pistachio she will be supporting its fashion brands Ania Haie and Aurelie Gi with her more than 20 years of experience in the luxury industry, including not just sales, but also merchandising and product development.
What big-brand values will trickle down to how she operates in her new position? “My approach was always relationship development,” she says. “Once a retailer learned that I was just as concerned about their business being successful as I was about making the sale, the trust was established. This practice can be taught to, and benefit, both retailers and wholesalers.
“Regarding merchandising, customers want to shop in an environment that is easy on the eyes. Grouping like collections and styles together to create a story makes it very easy on the sales associate to make the sale, instead of displaying all jewelry by type together.”