The shift to working from home may have been correlated with an increase in comfortable fashion, but as work pants and sweatpants retreated, the desire for luxury brands has not abated.
“Jewelry and accessories were given priority because a lot of people were on Zoom all day, [and] the only thing you could [use to] accessorizing were earrings, ”said Ippolita Rostagno, co-founder and CEO of Ippolita, on the Glossy Podcast.
Additionally, for Ippolita, the brand’s timelessness aligned with consumers’ desire for jewelry that could last beyond the pandemic. Rostagno, who founded the brand 20 years ago, said she focuses on “designing things that are relevant right now, but at the same time have a pretty classic feel for you to know at the moment. time of purchase you will like it. In 10 years. “
Whether you attribute it to Zoom or the Ippolita philosophy or both, the brand’s recent success is undeniable. Ippolita has seen a “very strong increase” in online sales to 10% of total sales, up from 2% before Covid-19.
“People have become much more comfortable learning and making up their own minds, and therefore shopping online,” said Rostagno. However, she said, “When you are in a store, you have the possibility to think that you are looking for something and to find something else. And that’s part of the retail experience that needs to be nurtured and returned. “
As for Ippolita’s commercial presence, as the brand will continue to partner with retailers, such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, “Owning our own retail business is the direction we would like to take for the business,” said Rostagno.
Ippolita has found success with trunk shows, which Rostagno attributes to the tangible experience that customers can have with jewelry. “[That] was the motivator to completely rethink the customer experience in my store that I opened in the middle of the pandemic in Chicago, ”said Rostagno.
Rostagno took inspiration from the concept of a physical jewelry box when designing Ippolita’s Chicago store. “You step into a felt box, then all the walls are magnetic and the jewelry is taken out; there is no case, ”she said, of the store layout. “The idea is that a customer can approach the jewel, try it on, look at it, smell it… before having a conversation with a seller.”
When it comes to Ippolita’s virtual presence, while many brands have chosen to use social media platforms like TikTok to build awareness of their brand, Ippolita has not followed suit. “It’s what women buy for themselves. It’s not casual jewelry, it’s not what husbands buy for a wife’s birthday, ”Rostagno said. “This state of mind, this feeling of self-control, is not something that appeals to a young audience, so TikTok is not the right place to tell this story.”
Instead, Rostagno sees places like Milan as the right setting for growing Ippolita. Montenapoleone, where Ippolita’s next store will open, is “the street of luxury in Milan, but also in Europe”, according to Rostagno. She added that she felt “very confident” about the store’s future success.
Below are additional conversation highlights, which have been edited slightly for clarity.
Separate storytelling from the sales experience
“Since the very first place people look for you is online, your story needs to be there in its fullest form, and we’re 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 if you do these things separately, you increase customer loyalty because if the story is online, they have the ability to read it when they want and not when you want to serve it to them. So that’s a good thing. I made a lot of personal appearances. The personal appearance format is usually sort of a masterclass of how jewelry is made, how my aesthetic came about, and what design rules apply to jewelry and all of that stuff. Most people don’t know much about jewelry – how it’s made, where it comes from. And our jewelry is very unique because we make absolutely everything from scratch.
People are at the heart of success
“Everything always revolves around people; people are at the heart of your success, period, end of story. It’s history. 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 have a successful business. But if you are missing any of these, it won’t work. I have traveled back and forth to Italy, of course, all my life; I grew up there, my family is there, and I work a lot in Italy on my jewelry. And I come from Florence, which is historically a city centered on craftsmanship and also a city that believes in the defense of art and art patronage, dating back to the Medici. It’s always been in my blood, plus I went to art school. I was completely imbued with all aspects of craftsmanship, culture, maker culture, our patronage and appreciation. In the last 30 years between my departure and now, I have noticed a dramatic change in the culture there. And all these cottage businesses were closing, the internet happened – the world changed almost overnight. I’ve decided [then that] I was going to do something very American: I [was] will try to create the cheapest possible, which specializes in all things [Americans] are not good for.
Bring the jewelry box to life
“[The new store] is at 900 Michigan Avenue which is a luxury mall. The space itself was a little white box. The idea we developed was to treat this little box like a jewelry box. We covered it with felt from floor to ceiling, so you step into a felt box. And then all the walls are magnetic, and the jewelry came out, so there are no cases. The idea is that a customer can approach the jewel, try it on, look at it, smell it, appreciate it, understand it, be surprised by it, all before having a conversation with a seller. By the time they ask how much it is, they’ve already thought about what it means to them and how much they would wear it. It’s a very different journey. I’ve always felt a little sad that something that’s so intensely designed and handmade and relies so heavily on its tactical effect has always been penalized by being in the briefcase. So the idea was to take it out of the case and take it off, so that the customer didn’t even have that experience to deal with.