The journey of InspireDesigns is like many small jewelry businesses. Sherri Murphy, the CEO of the global brand, started her business twelve years ago in the basement of her home. The company was founded as an avenue to sell the jewelry that she was passionate about creating.
As Sherri attended art festivals and local craft shows in the Atlanta area, her following of customers grew and so did the demand. Her jewelry sales increased to the point where she needed to hire friends and every family member she could recruit in order to keep up!
Five years into her start-up business, Sherri transitioned from attending retail art shows to selling her jewelry wholesale. You can find InspireDesigns jewelry in 300 exclusive retail galleries, boutiques and gift shops around the world.
InspireDesigns brand is based on strong traditions, putting faith and family first and a desire to give back to the community. Sherri is such a lovely and positive person, you can’t help but want to engage with her and be part of her tribe.
The pandemic has given Sherri and I time to pause and connect. I am very grateful for my time with her and am excited to share with you some of her strategies and alternative ways to sell jewelry.
InspireDesigns Showroom at the Atlanta Gift Mart
Becky: I have enjoyed reaching out to you during this global pandemic. Can you share with us some of the things that you have done to continue to promote your brand during these times of uncertainty?
Sherri: First, I want to say that I have really enjoyed our conversations and getting to know you better and learn and grow together. You have inspired me in so many ways, much like your beautiful charms and findings have inspired me throughout the years.
At the very beginning of the pandemic, our team met to brainstorm and try to anticipate ways that we could generate revenue as the shelter in place went into effect throughout the country. We talked about what would be important to our clients and how we could help them navigate having to shut their doors for a period of time. There was no way for us to truly understand the length and severity of what was coming, and we were trying to be as creative as possible. We knew that our retail website would play a very important role in generating revenue, but we also wanted to respect our wholesale customers and make them know that we were here for them.
We continue to send our weekly emails to our wholesale customers and contact as many as we can by phone. Our goal is to see how they are operating and what we can provide to them during this time. We have “upped” our game on the retail side and have been offering weekly emails and themed giveaways on our social media platform to grow that part of the business while we have the audience engagement.
Becky: You sell both retail and wholesale, correct?
Sherri: Up until the beginning of the pandemic, our business was 90% wholesale. During the pandemic our business has been about 40% wholesale.
Becky: Focusing on your wholesale business, can you tell us about some of the alternative ways in which you collaborate with your wholesale accounts?
Sherri: Interestingly, we started this year with a theme of “Community over Competition” and began thinking of ways to bring store owners together to improve their businesses and networks. This pandemic has proven to be the fastest way to put that theme into action and we are witnessing much more collaboration in our industry as a whole. I think the “we are all in this together” theme is carrying over into many aspects of our personal and business lives.
The first thing we did was lower our minimum order on our wholesale site and on our Faire.com site. This has allowed customers to fill their online orders without having to meet a minimum.
We implemented a “trunk show in a box” program that allows stores to receive new merchandise and not have to pay for the inventory up front. We have had a few stores try it with great success by using Facebook live and Instagram TV! The store owners had fun hosting the trunk show and interacting with their customers online and we ended up filling orders for additional pieces after the event!
We started our Gratitude Giveback two weeks ago. This program is a way for the stores that carry our jewelry line to receive a payout for sales generated on our retail website. When their customers place an order on our site, they list the store that they would normally shop at in the notes and we will issue a 25% payout back to that store during this time.
Because we don’t know when we will be able to attend a trade show again, we are planning a “pick box” program to send samples to the customer that they can pick and order from. So many of our store owners and buyers like to see and feel the product. This will be a way to bring the trade show to them!
We collaborated with local businesses to help us advertise our Shop Local Project. This project involved a t-shirt we designed and piece of jewelry (using Nunn Design Flat Tag). $10 from the purchases of the products in the program go into a fund that businesses can apply for a grant paid back to their store or restaurant. Even though we ran this program through our retail website, I consider it a wholesale collaboration. Many of our stores, local restaurants, and salons shared the project on their social media platforms and it is a really amazing community effort. The Shop Local Project allowed us to stay true to the part of our mission statement that is giving back to our community.
Becky: As different states start to lift their shelter in place orders, are you reaching out to those customers first?
Sherri: We are fortunate that Georgia is in the first wave of stores to open and we are witnessing the enthusiasm of communities that are ready to venture out within the guidelines and shop local! We have been watching the calendar of the Covid-19 status across the country. This week we are reaching out to the store owners in the states that are opening first and have made a list of priority states to reach out to after that. It’s a guessing game but as we transition to our new normal, we figure that any contact and assistance will be helpful. Some of the stores will need product and some need encouragement.
Becky: With so much uncertainty in the world financially, how are you navigating the stress of running a global brand?
Sherri: This pandemic has truly made me rethink the way I do business. InspireDesigns grew up quickly and got away from me a little. As the owner, I have taken the time to really reflect, get back to the root of what the company is about, and analyze the facts and numbers behind the business. With me being the only one in the studio, I have been wearing “all the hats” and, even though I miss my team, it has been a valuable experience.
I’m discovering that data is key! I’m not a huge fan of navigating data but I’m fortunate to have a Business Manager who loves to analyze all aspects of the business. Concentrating on the data also takes some of the emotion out of the decisions I have to make especially now because they aren’t easy decisions by any means.
I adopted a philosophy to use the materials I already have in stock and have two beautiful new mini collections designed and ready to go. Getting the feedback from the retail sales has been really helpful in planning the future of these collections. We are taking this time to analyze the trends and life cycles of the collections we currently sell. It is helping us to prepare for the way we will do business for the rest of the year.
I’m excited to continue to grow ID and do it in a way that is true to the roots of the company but take what I have learned during this time to make it even better!
Thank you Sherri for your time. We all appreciate you sharing your company’s strategies and wish you the very best of success.
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