Grade A Nation
Grade A Nation

Episode · 2 months ago

E171: Diamonds are Forever with Jewelry Concierge Kat McCoy!


Best Kept by Kat McCoy is a jewelry consultation and sourcing company that tries to take the anxiety out of the jewelry purchasing process. Chris Thomas talks with Kat about how Best Kept was created and how it operates as a concierge service. 

Areas covered include:

-why her experience growing up in wealthy Greenwich, CT doesn't mean she unable to connect with a diverse collection of people

-how she developed an interest in jewelry from her grandma and her grandma’s sense of style

-what it was like working at Ernst & Young immediately out of college

-moving on to SocialCode creating partnerships with other technology companies

-whether the influence of growing up in a family of entrepreneurs made her comfortable transitioning to starting a business as a solopreneur

-working with the startup accelerator Tacklebox to get her jewelry business idea fully idealized through mentorship and group feedback, and what people on a budget can do to execute a business idea

-the sometimes isolating nature of solopreneur work

-how she acquired an in-depth knowledge about jewelry over time to help people find a gift for someone else or to build up their own jewelry collection

-how she reacts when receiving a six-figure jewelry order…hint: it involves a lot of breakdancing (okay, maybe breakdancing is exaggerating a bit)

-building a reputation where people trust you when doing business

-why buying jewelry is often seen as so stressful and how her concierge service can help people from all sorts of backgrounds find a meaningful piece of jewelry

-whether there is ever a truly “perfect” piece of jewelry and how jewelry can be seen as an investment

-being a hands-on parent while simultaneously being a hands-on business person

Interested in starting a business? Interested in learning about jewelry? Interested in addressing the work-life balance challenge? If the answer to all of these is no, get your head examined, because these are all Grade A topics!

To learn more about Best Kept by Kat McCoy, visit 

How's it going great? Initial Christ Thomas here, I hope you're having a great kind of day. My guest on the since dorminal grading Nation is Cat McCoy. She's the owner and founder of Best Kept Jewelry Concierge. To learn more and go to B E S T k EPT dot com. Cat, how are you? I'm great? How are you? I'm doing well? This is definitely a unique subject matter. Before we get into Best Kept Jewelry, Let's talk a little bit about your past though, Cat, were you born and raised in Granwich, Connecticut? I was. I was born in Granwich Hospital. Um so major kind of full circle moment to have moved back here with my family just two years ago. So you know, Greenwich is ranked pretty consistently as one of the wealthiest cities in the country. The average household income was close to three thirty seven thousand. How do you think living in a community of such significant economic health and resources may have shaped who you are today in your experiences growing up? Yes, absolutely, Grantwiches is, you know, without question, a very assflute place to live and to grow up. I think one thing worth noting that a lot of people wouldn't necessarily know is Granwich is gigantic and in its own way, it's a little bit more diverse than I think other people would thank or or you know, or give credit to. UM. I went through all through the public school system. There were seven hundred and sixty kids and my graduating high school class. And so while there was a trendous amount of wealth and affluence, UM, you meet people all different types of people, which I think, UM is something that a lot of people, as I said, probably wouldn't know about Greenwich. But UM, it's absolutely a town UM that lakes it's luxury goods and luxury products. UM. So whether that be uh jewelry, cars, clothes, UM. Greenwich Avenue is also um a shopping mecca of the Northeast, UM with some really really amazing businesses UM, not to mention jewelry stores. So I think being around um such spectacular retail and also um knowing people who could wear lots of designers and brands, and it absolutely you know, makes an impression on you. Yeah. Good. I was thinking, being exposed to that luxury culture at an early age, did that spark your passion for jewelry? UM? You know, I would say, what really sparked my passion for jewelry was my grandmother. Um. She had a really beautiful collection of jewelry, and she was just a really elegant stylish woman, and so I love seeing the different ways that she would style her pieces. I love going into her jewelry box and uh checking out what was in there. For my twenty one birthday, she let me select one of her pieces of jewelry to have. So UM, I would definitely say my grandmother was sort of the primary influence in terms of my rest in jewelry. UM. But just from a people watching standpoint, you can go to any of the sort of trendy restaurants in town and uh and see some things. So UM, probably a balance of both a mix. You went to Wake Forest for your university studies. Had you been in North Carolina much prior to enrolling? And why did you ultimately choose Wake Forest? You know, I don't know that I had ever visited North Carolina before visiting the school. UM, I knew for certain I wanted to go to school in warmer weather. UM, so that kind of led me to, uh to checking things out down there. I studied business at Wake Forest. UM, weak Forest undergraduate business school is like a top twenty program, So that was really interesting to me as well, and UH and ended up being such a formative experience, not just for classes of course, but my very very closest lifelong friends are are all from college and the studying business enterprise management. What were the specs learn from that time period that stick with you today with best KIPT, I think I really, in hindsight, benefited so much from taking a variety of courses. I think, you know, I really loved, of course, my strategy one to one class, but we were also required to take things like accounting UM and just some some of the fundamentals UM of business that I think really served me well because UM just having a really you know, basic understanding of how some of these things work UM has been really helpful for me. UM. But yeah, the business program was was fantastic and very competitive, so UM as much as I you know, partied hard during school, like was also absolutely studying quite a bit. Okay, keeping the balance, you graduate from wake Forest and get hard at Ernst and Young For those who don't know, that's one of the major four accounting firms in the world and provide services and strategy, human resources, and financial strategy. Now, Ernst and Young is...

...a huge global company with many applicants each year. We're talking well over hundreds of thousands of people. When they say you're hired, How did you feel? What was the magnitude of it. I was fortunate enough to go through the on campus recruiting process, so UM, E y would come to school every year, specifically to the business school, and would be looking to interview and ultimately hire, UM, you know, several students every year. So UM, from that perspective, I was so lucky people to interview. And you know, I think oftentimes when you send in your resume online it goes into some sort of black hole. But because I had the support of the school, UM, I had the benefit of making sure my resume was actually was absolutely read and I had a fair shot at the interview. UM. I remember being, you know, really proud to accept the job in the fall of my senior year. I graduated in the spring of two thousand and eleven, and UM, the job market was really tight at that time. UM, not quite as bad as maybe two thousand and eight, but UM, a lot of a lot of friends were you know, trying to figure out what their next move was going to be fresh out of college, even though there was that on campus presence, was there an element of impostor syndrome going through your mind? You know, how do you maintain your self confidence with such high stakes work? So I went through the consulting program. UM, you start as UM. I believe that the title was staff one, so your staff one, staff to staff three before you're a manager. And UM. What was so nice about the formalized program was we had three weeks of training. So during those three weeks I was with all people sort of my age, similar interests, UM, just making sure that we had the proper skill set for the job. I think there's always going to be an element of impostor syndrome when starting something new, particularly when you're in a client facing role like a consultant is where you're speaking to clients in addition to sort of doing behind the scenes work. UM. But I have to say being part of that more formal program, knowing there was going to be training, and then also just UM from a hierarchy standpoint, UM, as a staff one, UM, you've got a manager, a senior manager, and partners on the deal. So I was pretty lucky to have quite a bit of crap, you know, cloud coverage. UM. When it came down to just starting on projects. After Ernst and Young you went to Social Code, were you working on the digital marketing and or on the software side of the business. I was on the business development team, and we were specifically creating partnerships with other tech platforms and other tech companies, trying to find way is to uh not only bring a new business but also um strengthen the quality of the product. UM. So I would say, you know, my job was not uh selling ads UM. And it also wasn't um sort of operational behind the scenes UM, but very much sort of partnering with other businesses UM. And it was great to to learn to speak some of the technological language, just be able to quickly assess, uh, you know, whatever partner we were looking at, be able to get a sense of what their tech really is. UM. I think that sometimes a very highly produced, very pretty presentation UM can kind of fool you into, you know, thinking what's they are behind the curtain or or um kind of convince you that the technology is more advanced than it really is. So UM, I think one of the best things I learned in that role was learning to ask really great questions and kind of humble yourself in terms of of understanding that you're probably not going to be the most knowledgeable or smartest person in the room. But UM, if you can kind of have the courage to to not be afraid to ask questions, you can, um kind of really get to the bottom of things. After time, were you finding fulfillment in the work or was it just a job? What led to thinking about maybe developing your own company? I am while at Social Code, this idea of working for myself and starting a business was very much at the forefront of my mind. UM. I come from a very long line of self employed people, both of my parents, one of my brothers, both my grandfather's On my mom's side, I believe there are twelve cousins and eight of us work for ourselves. UM so UM this idea of building something um for yourself and kind of owning your destiny is something UM I grew up around and UM you know, so the opportunity to... for myself was was absolutely a dream of mine. UM. At the time, while I was working at Social Code, this was very much the time of what some people might remember as like the Girl Boss era, so plays at Glassier and um, you know a couple there are a couple of very high profile female CEO s um and so there was a lot of emphasis on female entrepreneurs at the time. UM. But I think quickly I realized that, um, you know, instead of my aspirations to be on the cover of Forbes, my aspirations could be to build a really kind of profitable and meaningful business, but do it in my own way, um, without having to raise a bunch of money or or higher dozens of people. UM. So I would say as I was at Social Code was sort of immersed in that text startup, um, you know VC culture, but UM was able to get a little bit of clarity on the scale or saw as the business that I wanted to run. Do you think entrepreneurship and creativity are genetic, you know, passed down within a family. Why might you know within your family this entrepreneurial spirit be so robust? You know what? A good question. I don't think that this is something that you're born with per se. Um. I think it's absolutely something that can be studied and learned. And UM, I think some of the best experiences can be watching someone you admire be working on something that they're very passionate about, UM and pursuing something that they really believe in. I think I learned, you know. One of the biggest things I was able to take for my time in the corporate world, specifically Ernst and Young, was just learning how to handle myself in a meeting. UM, knowing when to ask questions, knowing when to listen, UM, knowing how to write a professional email. UM. So I think you can, you know, take pieces of your experiences and sort of piece them together when you yourself, UM own the place and are running the show. UM. You know, to this day, one of my favorite things is UH is just being in the room and listening to my dad or my brother role calls. You have to have a genuine interest in it, UM to be successful or to weather some of the tougher days. UM. But I think, UM, I think that if you've got really smart, passionate people that you can look to to feel inspiration that UM, you know, anybody who's hard working can can really get after it. You participated in tackle Box, which helps professionals take a startup idea, flesh up the strategy and proceed with launching. Why do you work with the startup accelerator for best Kip and how do you think it helped you in executing the idea? That's exactly where I joined the tackle Box Accelerator the very I believe by the second month and run by UM, an incredibly um passionate, smart visionary guy named Brian Scuardatto who has become just sort of a mentor of mine. We keep in touch to this day. UM. And as much as I was so excited to work for myself and call the shots there are awesome, you know, also sometimes when it can be a little bit lonely, UM, when you're a solo entrepreneur, and so I was really looking for sounding boards, a sense of community, and really just people to bounce ideas off of UM and so I was able to find some of that in the very very early days of starting the business with tackle Box. Now, at about dollars a month with tackle Box, it's a lot less than a graduate business degree, but it's still a major expense for folks that might not have the resource have a unique idea. What are some suggestions you have for potentially getting their business idea off the ground. There are so many resources now, specifically on YouTube of course, UM, Instagram. A lot of the platforms have some incredibly talented people who UM are teaching business strategy and giving tips and UM. You know, more often than not, the majority of their content is free. UM. So you can teach yourself almost anything these days. UM. So I think, you know, starting with people that you think are really smart and UM and finding them on YouTube or TikTok or any of the platforms. UM. If you don't have UM, you know, if you don't have the funds to join a more formal program, UM, I think that would absolutely be the place to start. UM. I can say it's really beneficial in the early days to immerse yourself in strategy and tactics and um lee generation...

...and all the things that you need to be thinking about. But I can also say that I think there can sometimes come a point in any business life cycle where you are consuming so much information that you have difficulty listening to yourself or or knowing what feels true to you. UM. And so I think our information diet is something that I, you know, think about all the time because I think you know, for me, it can be really tempting to listen to hours and hours of podcasts and you know, take this webinar and um, you know there are plenty of people who want to give you lots of advice and so UM knowing when to you know, be a sponge and absorb all of that and then also trusting your instincts when you just feel completely saturated and like you can't hear yourself think. UM, I think is something uh, you know that I think about quite a lot. Best kept a concier service, helping facilitate people and finding and purchasing ideal and jewelry. What was your process of discovering that this was a need out there in the marketplace. I have two older brothers, UM, and I've helped them source gifts for for many many girlfriends in the past, and so I was very very inspired by that process. To be honest, UM, jewelry is UM is very personal and it can be really difficult to buy for someone else as a gift. And I felt like if you could make people feel like they couldn't get it wrong, that whoever they were shopping for was going to love what they purchased, that so many more people would take the leap and buy something really special because Um, I think some nice people can think of jewelry as being sort of frivolous or fancy. And while all of that, of course can be true, I think, um it can also when you apply a little bit of thoughtfulness, it can just be such an incredibly meaningful gift as well. And so, um, the angle I really wanted to take was how can I take limited information from someone who doesn't know much about jewelry at all and be able to determine the style of the person that we were shopping for and curate really special, personalized recommendations for them to choose from. So on the stories thing side, if it's your anniversary and you say I have a budget of X dollars and our anniversaries December, UM I will curate usually three or four great options within your budget for you to choose from that I think whoever we're shopping for it is going to love. Now, you had talked about your grandmother's collection and being exposed to that, but you know, and and really having a fine tune, granular knowledge about jewelry. How did you develop that knowledge over time? Yes, I would say, um, I got you know, in terms of my expertise UM. So much, if not all, of it, was acquired on the job. You know, as we discussed, I studied UM, I studied business I would. I worked at Ernst and Young for almost five years, and then I worked in business development. So I do not come from a traditional jewelry background by any means, and so UM it's really through working with clients and UM and projects themselves that I have learned where to go for what. It's also where I've been able to UM to meet some really really talented people in the industry. UM. So when I was first starting, I didn't have any wholesale relationships or UM or any real industry contacts, and so a lot of the stuff I was sourcing was just things that you could find online. And the value I was providing was, you know, instead of you spending fifteen hours searching online for the perfect thing, let me do that and just curate the universe of options down to the best two or three. UM. Now, five years into the business, UM, I worked much quicker. I have so many more industry contacts, and I've learned so much UM. But so much of it, as I said, was just acquired on the job. So it's learning by doing essentially. In doing that, how do you cultivate the trust with say, industry contexts. I think you know, the jewelry industry is notoriously kind of insular, UM and very old school and so UM. I work primarily with partners in New York City's Diamond District in midtown UM, and what I found was, UM, first of all, introducing yourself in person is really important. A lot of these people, UM don't check their email or you know, aren't going to respond to an inquiry submitted on a website. UM so boots on the ground, UM handshake, introducing yourself UM, particularly to folks on the Diamond district, UM was was very very important. UM. The best way to meet someone new is to be introduced UM so to the extent you can build credibility and ask someone to, Hey, what I'm really looking for is a colored gemstone specialist. You know, anyone you could introduce me to. UM. So, you know,...

...building enough to report with people so that you can kind of make the ask for the introduction UM was was really important. And UM in terms of building trust, you know, my business model is everything is made or sourced by client. I don't hold any inventory. I don't have a traditional e commerce store, which means that I'm buying or making pieces one at a time. And because I can't submit these big orders UM I have, I've had to find other ways to make myself a really good partner. And for me, that means you know, paying on time. UM. That means like really keeping my word and doing what I say I'm gonna do UM. And I think just that consistency UM really goes a long way towards building reputation and and being someone that people want to work with. People buy expensive items all the time, refrigerators, cars, what have you, the whole gam it. What is it about fine jewelry that ramps up the anxiety, the nervousness about purchasing the product. I think for so many people it feels UM, it feels very high stakes, and I think people really have their guard up that they are going to be UM, they're gonna be taken for a ride, or that they're going to overpay. I think there is sometimes UM this image of like of a sleazy salesperson or you know, it's it makes a lot of sense to me. It can be so difficult to understand why something is priced a certain way. Um. You know. A big part of the reason I started the business was people would say, I'm looking at two seemingly identical pieces of jewelry, but one is three times more expensive than the other. Can you explain this to me? And sometimes there's a very good explanation, and other times there's not. Um. There are some retail stores that charge a ten x markup and then other stores that, uh, you know, barely get by almost at wholesale pricing. So I think people really have their guard up because there is an overwhelming lack of transparency, particularly when it comes to pricing. One of the interesting things about the services you offer is that on the site itself, it says, quote investing in the perfect piece of jewelry should be a special experience end quote. Can you speak to why people might want to think about purchasing jewelry as an investment? Absolutely? I think what's so special about a piece of jewelry? Um, as compared to investing in a great trip or experiences. It's something that you can have for a very long time, and oftentimes it can be something that you can pass down to the next generation or to someone you love. So there's a longevity to the investment UM when done appropriately. UM. Just like other parts of fashion, things come into style, things come out of style, And so I think it can also be really fun to buy something because it spoke to you and because you love it, and then UM, you know, eventually put it into your jewelry box and kind of rediscover it again years later. If it's more of like a trend based UM kind of purchase, UM, But I think jewelry is UM. Women love joy for so many reasons, not the least of which, unlike a pair of jeans UM. By and large, your favorite piece of jewelry is always going to fit, even if you're you know, pounded two up or a pound if you pounder two down. UM. So I think there's a little bit of that UM to be said for investing in a piece of jewelry. But I have to tell you, it's an incredibly emotional purchase UM. And that's something that as I consider the sort of complete experience my customers having UM, I'm always trying to find different pockets of or different opportunities to make the piece feel extra thoughtful or or extra personal or kind of extra relevant to whatever we're trying to accomplish, and so to the extent you can, um find something not only that is beautiful and well made, but really aligns with a style of who you're shopping for. Um, that's when it becomes UM, I think just such a special purchase. Now, when talking about investing in the perfect piece of jewelry, doesn't this potentially heighten the expectations which can ultimately make people even more nervous about making the purchases that it has to be perfect. Yeah, I think, UM, you know, for better or worse. I feel as though, you know, my my reputation is on the line for every purchase. And so I think from a service perspective, part of what you can expect working with the concierge is if you have an issue with the piece, is a stone falls loose, if anything happens that I'm going to have it taken care of. Um. But yeah, I take it. I take the process really seriously, and I take my client's experiences very very seriously because it is a big deal that they would want to not only make a big investment,...

...but make a big investment with me. UM. So there are absolutely times where you feel the pressure to deliver and make sure that it's perfect. Um. You know, my success rate UM in terms of happy customers and sourcing the right thing is quite high. UM. But I think as I UM, you know, have been in business longer and have had more and more experiences, you realize that you can do your very very best to make most people happy. UM. But you know there are a few transactions every year that go a little sideways, and you know, I'm getting better at it, but every time I take it incredibly personally and UM, and it can often be you know, an expensive mistake to fix. Is there a particular market or demographic your services seem to work with consistently, for example, or men of a certain age group looking for wedding rings? Do they have to be a common customer? Who are you interacting with most? Yes? So I started the business really on sourcing gifts for their people, working primarily with men who wanted to find something special for their spouse. UM. Today the biggest part of my business is custom engagement rings. UM. So working with people who want to source a really special diamond from a diamond wholesaler and UM and created a handmade setting to to go with it. UM. I would say, UM, I work with people across the country. UM. But the business was really founded on UM on word of mouth and friends of friends. UM. So someone had a great experience, it would tell another person about their you know, their friend cat or this person they went to college with and UM. So I would say referrals has really been the backbone of building the business. UM. Just the last year or so, I would say the last two years, I've really from a marketing perspective and just business perspective, UM made a huge push towards engagement rings UM because for me it's absolutely the most fun part of the business UM. And so UM I would say the alority of my engagement in clients are on the younger side. UM, they're probably seven to thirty seven. UM, but I work with UM with all types of people and for someone who needs to make a jewelry purchase for a gift or special occasion, can you walk us through how long an average process might be in working with the best kept Yes. So on the sourcing side, we would start with a consultation. UM. I'd ask you a few questions about what you're looking for, what your budget is, who we're shopping for, and then I will go out and source, as I said, three or four great options within your budget for you to choose from. UM. I have some clients UM who come to me and they're like, my tenth anniversary is in two weeks. And if that's the case, that means that we're probably only going to be sourcing something that's in stock UM. So anything that's custom or made to order isn't going to be on the table UM. So it's really important in that initial consolation for me to get a sense of UM of the timeline that we're working with. I would say, on average, it takes about a week and a half to two weeks for you to receive your customized recommendations UM, and if a piece is made to order, that can sometimes be every bit of four to six weeks UM. But UM, as I said, if we're under a tight timeline and you can be decisive, we can source something in stock UM and have the gift to you by the end of the week. That's pretty quick. Yes, I would say, UM for me to I can source the recommendations that quickly and work. We did that quickly. Typically we have some sort of rapport or you're fairly UM specific about what it is you're looking for but UM to me, UM, and there's listen, there's a time and place for everything. To me, I would I'm always more in favor of finding something that can be ready in time versus saying, you know, look, honey, this is what I got you, but it won't be ready for another few weeks. UM. I love the element of surprise and sort of element of time. So UM, you know, if possible, I'm always gonna kind of do everything in my power to make sure we can, UM, we can make a quick turnaround. Work. As someone who is facilitating the process for customers, how hands on are you throughout the process and how do you personally avoid burnout? I am very hands on in the process. UM. I would say, what on the sourcing side, where people are really buying is my time? UM had knowledge and expertise because I look at jewelry and I've because this is what I'm so immersed in, I've gotten so much quicker and source than the recommendations. UM. I think when I started, it would probably take me every bit of ten to twelve hours to source the perfect three or four recommendations. UM. But now just having more reps and having seen more things, UM and just sort of having more things sort of in the back of my mind. It takes me, um, you know, anywhere from an hour to three or four hours to source recommendations, and...

...of course really depends on the project and how specific they are and UM and the style of what we're looking for UM. But it's a very manual process. This is not anything where I have an algorithm and can um, you know, put something into a spreadsheet and have the perfect thing pop up. UM. It's a very kind of esoteric and UM intuitive process UM that I think I just happened to be really good at, which is taking you know, limited pieces of information and somehow finding something that feels really unique and personal. UM. In terms of of burnout, I have found the very best thing I can do is politely say no to projects that either don't align with what I'm good at or what I want to be doing UM and just direct people to either another business or a different solution. UM. I would say, I really only get into trouble when I take a client that I either has really unrealistic budget expectations or doesn't really value the service that I provide and just wants to UM kind of haggle. So I'm finding that if I have the discipline to turn down a little bit of business and really focus on making sure it's a fit not just for them but also for me, UM, that I can really avoid that sort of resentment or burnout UM, that I've absolutely experienced in the past. You can mentioned a few moments ago, so preneurs having that element of loneliness. How do you maintain the work life balance given that you are seemingly hands on with all the customers? Yes, you know, I think the you know I when you start and to work for yourself, you can be working at any time, So I think, um, it can you know, easily kind of get out of hand and the balance can be disrupt it. UM. I have two very small girls. I have a three and a half year old and a one and a half year old, and so just based you know, they go to daycare, UM a wonderful program, but based on their needs. UM. I also there are times when I just you know, cannot be at the computer heads down working. So becoming um, really efficient with my time has been just very important, particularly since uh having kids. Do you feel that you are potentially missing out on a lot of experiences with your kids in those early years as you're trying to build up best kept Um. No, I don't feel that way. UM. I feel really lucky. I have my husband Clay is um such a true co parent and great partners, so we really bounce um a lot of the child care responsibilities together. UM. And I have to say that when um, when the girls are home, they're absolutely my primary focus. So UM, you know they're always going to be challenges to being a working mom. Um. No one has a figured out there is. I think this idea of of balance is sometimes a false one. Um. But UM, I feel so fortunate that I can be pursuing something that I love so much while still being, you know, such an active parent. Now when you're little ones ask you for jewelry that for their friends for free, how are you going to approach that? Oh my gosh, My older daughter, Ellie, the three year old, loves jewelry. I'm I'm I'm telling you, it's in her bones. I don't push it on her as much as you would think. She just loves sparkly things. We got her a little jewelry box with some of her um you know Faoux jewelry that she absolutely treasures UM. You know, I'm someone you know that gift giving is really my love language. So I to give small pieces of jewelry to my friends. UM. It drives my husband crazy, of course, said just on sort of the business and accounting side of things. So if my girls want to be giving out piece of jewelry, it's probably something I will be too open to. Oh you're enabling exactly? Is there a part a particular goal on mind of growing best Kept at scale so that more and more people can be served and helped in their jewelry purchases. Absolutely. You know I mentioned before I've had sort of this renewed focus on engagement rings UM, and a huge part of that is because the process is much different than sourcing UM. For engagement ring engagement rings, I'm helping you settle on a budget. I'm helping you figure out the shape of the diamond that we're going to procure, UM, working with the diamond wholesaler and then of course the jeweler and the setter to have the setting made. UM. But I'm able to... in every detail and you know, really control the process UM more easily than I am with sourcing, which is UM, as I said, can be you know, can be really time consuming to find the exact right thing UM, you know, checking with multiple suppliers UM, and so really tracking down lots of things. With engagement rings, I'm able to UM streamline the process and really control many more of the variables because I work with you know, a very sort of short list set of diamond wholesalers and color gemstone specialists. UM. I have two setters in the diamond district who I really trust and and bring almost all of my engage ring business to UM. So by focusing specifically engage rings, I'm finding that UM, just from a time perspective, I'm able to UM, you know, devote more time to marketing and everything else that is involved in and running a business. Now, statistically speaking, it seems like younger people are holding off on serious relationships and marriage in part because they don't feel financially secure enough. And you had said you work quite a bit with individuals aged seven or thirty seven. Do you have to approach younger generations differently than other age groups? UM? I would say the primary difference can sometimes be just the way we communicate. UM. A lot of my clients prefer text over email, just because you can so much more easily send, send, and share photos. There's a different sort of immediacy to the response UM and the way that you can correspond UM. But I also have UM clients who you know, instead of sending a second follow up email, the very best thing I can do is pick up the phone and call them UM. I think if you pick up and call a year old without sending a text first, UM, they take it as you know, starting to fight versus UM. It can be such a sign of respect to just pick up the phone and call someone UM of of that dinner, different generation. So I absolutely kind of tailor the way I communicate with a client based on their preferences UM, And so I would say, yeah, call versus tax or email is something that I definitely consider UM. And then also just from a style of perspective, I don't want to assume I have a command of someone's style just because of their age. UM. But you know, a younger person is going to be interested in a different everyday airing than you know, UM, someone who's a little bit older. Do you find that there are regional differences in jewelry preferences, meaning folks in New York might be more drawn to or inclined to purchase particular pieces, whereas folks on the West Coast might have a different appetite or preference. Yeah, I would say there there are little nuances to be aware of. Um. I would say, for better or for worse, some of those are going by the wayside, just with the Internet and everyone being able to be exposed to you know, anything at any time. UM. One example of what you're talking about that comes to mind is, Um, I think a signet ring is something that you know, a gentleman in the South, uh might wear like a younger A younger man might wear a signet ring with his family crest on it. Um, And that feels um, very kind of Southern versus you know that more kind of laid back West Coast field. UM. I would say for women's style, um, you know, there's how in Los Angeles it's very much about very delicate layering necklaces. So you know, layering many many different necklaces together M Versus something a little bit more upper east side would be like a chunky gold chain, something a little bit heavier, um and more looks um. So some of its dio, some of it is perhaps regional UM. But UM, I think with social media and everything else, like some of those UM, some of those nuances are are getting lost a little bit. What are some of the most fulfilling memories you have of helping people find pieces of fine jewelry as a thoughtful gift or building a jewelry collection. Um. Absolutely. I would say one of my favorite and most loyal customers. UM. He comes to me once or twice a year, UM to buy something special for his wife. UM. He has just a great interest in jewelry and he loves finding something really thoughtful. But in the past, when he had purchased pieces of jewelry, he found that they were always returned. UM. So he was a little bit gun shy to begin with. But it was really important to him that we UM, that we found something that she was going to be really happy with. And you know, he wasn't satisfied with her sending a link to what what she wanted. He really...

...wanted to UM educate himself a little bit and and kind of learn with me. So UM, you know, the first few times we worked together, he and I would hop on the phone and we would go through each recommendation very slowly and carefully. And I would really kind of explain to him my thought process and why I chose to include that for his wife Katie. UM. And what's been fun for me is to see what a confidence booster it's been UM for him because now, UM, we barely even put together the formal recommendations. He'll send me an email about, you know, budget and what he's looking for, and then typically I'll text him a few pictures. But he has become UM, not only so much more well versed and jewelry, but really UM, I think so much more connected to her style and her preferences and what she likes, and so UM it's been I think just uh, first of all, he's so sweet, but it's UM, it's been kind of empowering for him to go from she never likes anything I'd buy her? What am I going to do too? I love what you put, what you pulled there, but actually, what if we could do it in eighteen inches instead of sixteen inches for this necklace? So seeing his sophistication UM increase a little bit in just his general interest and enthusiasm UM has been just really really special for me. Do you have a sense of whether or not people who use your conciered services are telling the person that receives the jewelry the gift that they use the concier service or are they claiming credit? Now might you feel about that that that that they discovered it themselves? You know, part of part of the name Best Kept was this idea of, you know, the best kept secret. Would I be really behind the scenes? Um. You know, it's my impression that you know, way more often than not, UM, a client is very kind of proud to say that they worked with me. And I think a huge part of that is because of, you know, the best kept brands emphasis on thoughtfulness. I think there who sell jewelry online or on Instagram who are all about bigger, bigger, bigger, more and more and more. But the heart of what I do is really this element of thoughtfulness and and making the pieces and the recommendations feel really personalized. So even though someone had a little bit of assistance, it's still a really personal process. Um. When I first started, I think I kind of wanted to be the hero of the story, which is, look how beautiful these pieces are. Look what I found. You know how you know, I had such limited information and I was able to find something so special. But what I've realized is, you know, my customer needs to be the hero of the story, so they need to make the final decision, and they really need to own that decision. So there's nothing that makes me happier than a client who starts off the process kind of ambivalent, UM, and by the end of it is saying to you know, their spouse or whoever the jeweler has purchased for And you know, I wanted to go with sapphires because of your blue eyes, and UM, I thought that if we made it adjustable, you'd be able to wear it more. So, UM. I think really bringing people into the process and and having them own the decision. UM, you know, makes such a huge difference in that way. Not to be a nosy Nancy, but just kind of curiosity. What has been the most expensive piece of jewelry that you helped to facilitate the acquisition of I helped UM purchase a very rare and large diamond, UM, and that was you know, well over six figures. Oh my god. Yes, the diamond businesses can be quite interesting. UM. I would say, you know, on the sourcing side, the vast majority of my business is is you know, on the more affordable side. UM. But what keeps things exciting and fun and and you know candidly keeps the door open the doors open is um. Every once in a while, you you get a big fish who's looking for something rare. And when those instances happened, how do you avoid doing a cart wheel knowing that you're gonna get a significant cut off? I have to tell you, UM, I didn't realize when I started the business that I was going to be a full time salesperson, that I worked in sales. UM. But the longer I'm in this, the more I realize. UM. You know, you can call yourself founder, owner, entrepreneur or whatever you want. At the end of the day, I'm a salesperson, So UM, you better believe I'm doing cart wheels and um celebrating every one of those big budgets because um, you know, the big budgets, as I said, are are obviously more profitable, UM, but the little budgets are I think, UM, what keep people really interested in just beginning our work together um and keeping their mind open to working with a cancierge service. UM. So I do not play it cool... all for for sale like that though, how my perceptions of jewelry evolved with changes and technology, because we're seeing all of these things in the digital space that are exclusively digital and f T s for instance. Do you think that maybe as we progress, the younger generation is going to be more drawn to digital pieces of art or work as opposed to physical pieces like traditional fine jewelry. You know, I think that there will always always be a market for special pieces of jewelry. UM. I remember going to an exhibit at the NET several years ago and or maybe it's even part of the permanent collection, and you see pieces of jewelry back from you know, the ancient Egyptian days, and I think people are always going to want to adorn themselves, UM with something special. I think on the technology side, UM, perhaps the more interesting conversation is around, UM, the rise of lab grown diamonds UM in different ways of manufacturing UM. You know, gemstones that whose values derives from being rare and taking thousands of years to grow in the earth versus you know, weeks or months in a laboratory. UM. And I would say the lab grown diamond conversation is really really interesting and one that is constantly evolving. Um. It's not like a cubic zirconium or any other diamond substitute. A lab grown diamond has the exact same chemical composition as a natural diamond that was mine from the earth. UM. They're both made using high pressure and high temperatures. It's just UM. In a lab you can control the pressure and temperatures and and make a diamond much UM quicker than of course in the ground where it can take hundreds or thousands of years. UM so UM. Yeah, the lab grown come rotation is very very interesting because it is a diamond. UM. And UM. Anyone who tells you that using the naked eye they could tell the difference between a natural and a lab grown UM is fibbing. You need a very expensive, large piece of equipment to be able to tell if a diamond is lab grown. UM. So it's a really interesting conversation, UM, because a lab grown diamond is much more affordable. UM. But the resale value UM, you really get crushed on um because UM, more and more of these lab growns are flooding the market every day. UM, whereas the resale market for a natural diamond for the most part, has stayed, you know, pretty stable. There are competitors out there. How do you strategically stick out from the rest of the pack. Yes, I think, UM, you know, I fought it a little bit of first, But what I've realized is when a client chooses to work with me, UM, they of course are buying a wonderful piece of jewelry, but they're really buying me, and they're buying into me and the services that I provide and and eye level of curation. UM. And so there are plenty of people who, um, who sell jewelry, who sell jewelry online, who sells similar pieces, But I don't know of anyone else who takes the same approach I do, which is, you know, deeply, deeply trying to understand the style of the person we're shopping for. On the engagement ring side, UM, I like to guide you through every part of the decision making process and UM and really make a process that can be a little scary and overwhelming feel manageable because you have the guidance of an expert. UM. So yeah, I think, UM, I absolutely recognize that there are very very talented people who who make and sell jewelry, But UM, I am kind of you know, I am sort of a student of people's taste and jewelry and their style. UM. And I think that's something that is hard to replicate for someone who might be based in Florida or Alaska and they're curious about a consultation. Do you do it over zoom? How does that work? Um? Yes, So we can do a consultation over zoom or just over phone call. Um. Typically we'll speak for a few minutes and then UM, if we're sourcing and get excuse me if for sourcing a gift, I will often ask you to send me a photo of the person we're shopping for, a photo of them dressed casually, in a photo of them dressed up for an event like a wedding or something, and that sort of visual reference gives me a lot of information. Um. But yeah, I much prefer actually a phone called to zoom, just because I think sometimes when you're meeting someone for the first time, you can get a little distracted by the video component versus um, the subject of the conversation. Um. But a consultation is always the first place to start. And what are some closing thoughts you'd like to share with the grading Nation audience? When done with thoughtfulness and purpose and then and I really do believe that a beautiful piece of... is one of the most meaningful purchases that you can make. Um. It doesn't need to be sort of a crazy, frivolous thing. UM. It can be really something that someone cherishes for a long time. And UM, it's just a really beautiful reflection of how you know them and how you see them. There, you have a Gradia nation. If you want to learn more about Cat McCoy and her work, she's obviously very passionate and willing to help people out, go to best Kept dot com. Take care of grading Nation. We'll see you next time.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (178)