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Business Fort Worth jewelry retailer finds gem in social commerce

Fort Worth jewelry retailer finds gem in social commerce

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Betty Dillard bdillard@bizpress.net

Fort Worth entrepreneurs Meredith Miner and Victoria Wise were anything but nuts when they launched a designer jewelry and accessories boutique on Facebook in September 2011. In just 20 months, the co-founders and owners of Jewelry Nut Auctions – the first retailer of its kind to enter into social commerce – are zeroing in on the $2 million sales mark. The company has jumped from one employee to a staff of 20 and Facebook fans have multiplied from 175 on launch day to almost 52,000. “Meredith and I ask each other every day how this can be real,” Wise said. “We love what we’re doing. We’re having fun and the success we’re having is really overwhelming.” A pioneer in the rapidly growing social commerce trend, Jewelry Nut Auctions offers trendy, fun and affordable fashion pieces, from colorful statement necklaces and pave cuff bracelets, to brightly-printed scarves and skirts. Auctions are on Facebook every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. CST. Each auction features 75 to 100 jewelry, clothing and accessory pieces presented in an auction-style format showcasing a photo, price and quantity. Fans of the page are able to buy the featured fashions by entering their email address in the comment box below the photo. The first to respond before the quantity sells out “wins” the item at the posted price. Customers are billed through email invoices and shipping is free. “We have to educate our customers all the time,” Miner said. “They’ve never shopped this way before.” From the beginning, Miner and Wise knew they had discovered a gem of a business model. The two then stay-at-home moms – between them they have seven children – conceived the idea at their children’s play date. “Meredith came up with the idea of an auction site and then we came up with jewelry,” Wise said. “We knew it would appeal to a wider audience.” Each partner brings her own area of expertise to the business. Miner, 36 and a Fort Worth native, earned a bachelor of business administration degree in marketing and international business from Texas A&M University. She started her career in advertising in Dallas. A career change led her to Florida, where she worked as a commercial Realtor for Trammell Crow Co. She later returned to Dallas and worked in commercial real estate and asset management with Crow Holdings. After having her first daughter in 2006, Miner left Crow Holdings to be closer to home and run her husband, Chris Miner’s company, Customer Solutions, a marketing and promotional product firm they sold in 2008. Originally from Norman, Okla., Wise, 38, is an alumna of Texas Christian University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in radio/TV/film. She began her career in retail and later started her own jewelry design business. She grew her retail base from three stores to more than 40 stores in four years. After her solo venture, Wise became director of product development at Dallas-based Barse, where she designed exclusive product lines for stores including Nordstrom, Dillard’s and Macy’s, and launched a branded line on the Home Shopping Network. In 2007, she created her own boy’s clothing company (since sold) and currently designs for Smockadot Kids, a line of hand-smocked baby and children’s clothing. Both partners scour the markets from Dallas to New York, snapping up older collections of jewelry and clothing being marked down. The results are “of the moment” items at pocketbook-friendly prices, ranging from $18 to $30. “Because we’re not a brick and mortar we’re able to offer lower price points. We have products you will find at Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus but our prices are typically 30 percent less,” Wise said. Jewelry Nut features popular designers including Kendra Scott, The Ropes Maine, Catherine Page, Virtue Jewelry, Kiel James Patrick, Serefina and Wimberly. Also offered are designer-inspired pieces from designers such as David Yurman, Ippolita, Tai, Michael Kors and Van Cleef. Besides traditional jewelry pieces, there’s also an array of women’s clothing and accessories including handbags, scarves and watches, plus home décor and monogrammed items. “We definitely have repeat customers because they know we have what’s on trend right then,” Wise said. “We also offer designer jewelry, some of it exclusive. As soon as they launch their new collections so do we. Other retailers don’t have the variety that we have.” This spring Miner and Wise started their own custom jewelry line called “Loves and Graces.” The debut collection, showcased and sold for a limited time on the Jewelry Nut Auctions Facebook page, featured inspirations from Mary Seng, Nashville-based fashion blogger of “Happily Grey.” The Jewelry Nut team is currently working on its next partnership with Dallas-based trendsetter, Sarah Briggs. Briggs’ jewelry collections are found at high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Henri Bendel and retail from $60 to $150, but her Loves and Graces line for Jewelry Nut will be between $20 and $40. Miner and Wise expect the Sarah Briggs line to launch within a week. Previews of the new line will be posted on the Jewelry Nut website at www.jewelrynutauctions.com as well as its Facebook page.  

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