Category: General

Why Everyone Should Care About China’s Economic Policy Reform

Some speculate that China is heading for a financial crisis. I spent a big chunk of my college and law school education studying China’s economy and legal infrastructure and I believe a financial crisis is almost certain if the CCP doesn’t adjust its economic policy. The McKinsey report on “Capturing China’s $5 Trillion Productivity Opportunity” presents the most compelling solution I’ve seen–namely shifting from an investment economy to a productivity-led economy.
 
Sounds like a great solution right? But this article doesn’t touch on what shifting to a productivity-led economy would entail. Coincidentally, if I combine my college thesis (written in 2002) which was a prescription for Chinese economic policy reform and my law school dissertation (written in 2005) on the legal implications of economic policy reform in China we can piece together a very general picture of what preventing a financial crisis in China would entail.
 
It would entail a complete overhaul of China’s legal infrastructure in order to:
 
1. Unravel state-owned entities, letting them fail and focus on the private sector;
 
2. Increase transparency in the capital markets and change listing and reporting requirements etc. to allow the capital markets self-adjust in the wake;
 
3. Procedure in the court systems would have to be changed in order to allow for fair and unbiased dispute resolutions;
 
4. Abolish the Hukou system which controls where people are allowed to live in order to allow individuals to migrate to areas where jobs are created;
 
5. Lift of censorship to embrace digital technologies for efficiency and scale and allow for education and innovation; and
 
6. So much more that I can’t even begin to delve into.
 
Due to the sheer size and magnitude of China’s population, globalization and the digitization of our world, every shift in China’s economic policy will have a reverberating impact on our global economy. This is why no investor, business or brand can ignore China–it impacts us all.

Swoonery, a New Way to Buy Designer Jewelry Online

Over the course of my career as a designer and jewelry industry professional working directly with clients I realized how difficult it is for people to buy designer jewelry online. If you do perform a Google search the results you get are depressing. Everything looks the same and generally, the quality of the pieces are all over the place. It’s hard to find fine jewelry that speaks to you and reflects your style.

Brick and mortar jewelry experiences are hardly any better. People walk into a jewelry store and the styles are outdated, the selection is limited and stores rarely have a full range of sizes because the cost of maintaining so much inventory is insanely high.

There are additional reasons that contribute to the difficulty of buying fine jewelry. Over 60% of fine jewelry purchases are gifts but because jewelry is such a personal expression, it’s really hard to choose jewelry for someone else. I am certain that during the course of your lifetime you’ve either received a piece of jewelry and pretended to like it so as not to hurt the giver’s feelings or bought a piece of jewelry for someone else and wondered why the recipient never wears it. In the case of engagement rings, how do you find someone’s ring size without blowing the surprise? Did you know that 95% of engagements are delayed because he doesn’t know your ring size? And here all along we thought it was a commitment issue! Poor guys!

As far as the brands and designers go, the jewelry industry is broken. The current system is inefficient, competitive and places all the financial risk on the designers. Most retailers operate on a consignment model which means the designers have to pay for all their materials up front and commit it to the retailer and they only get paid once the pieces sell. Many designers take out loans in order to fulfill consignment orders and then when pieces don’t sell the retailers return it to them and the designers are stuck with the excess inventory that they then have to sell at a discount–a practice that damages their brand equity. Add to that the financial burdens of marketing and advertising which designers have no choice but to take on in order to get their name out there and it is no wonder designers are struggling to survive. The truth is that smaller designers with unique products and attention to craftsmanship will never be able to compete with the budgets of the larger brands and retailers and as a result they cannot break through the noise and don’t end up connecting with the right consumers.

All this creates a downward spiral and results in consumers feeling frustrated with the generic selection of low quality jewelry flooding the internet and the overwhelming, inconvenient experience when one tries to buy designer jewelry online. In addition, the pressures from the industry forces designers to sell out by using cheaper materials and manufacturing processes in order to survive. The integrity and the human connection of fine jewelry is lost.

This is what inspired me to create Swoonery. It is the first luxury marketplace for designer fine jewelry that gets to know each individual and guides him or her through a shopping experience that adjusts for every interaction. We make it possible for customers to discover the perfect piece of jewelry for their aesthetic and makes the process of buying gifts for someone else easy by connecting you with your friends and allowing you to see what they’ve saved in their Hint Lists and what’s been recommended for them.

Ring sizes are stored in each customer’s account so whether you’re buying for yourself or for someone else, you now know the ring size. Swoonery offers all our designers’ rings in a comprehensive range of sizes and you even have the option of placing a special order if you need a special fit.

We help our designers gain exposure to customers they wouldn’t otherwise have access to by recommending products that are suited to the tastes of each individual and reduce the burden of inventory through our drop ship program.

Swoonery is my labor of love and I hope it opens up a beautiful world of unique, expertly crafted, fine jewelry for our customers and provides a support for all the visionary designers and brands out there to showcase the integrity of their work.

Swoonery, a New Way to Buy Designer Jewelry Online

Here is a promo code for 10% off from yours truly. Go and experience a new way to buy designer jewelry online; feel understood, and please let me know how your experience was in the comments section below.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

 

The Not-So-Obvious Way that Fashion Has Impacted the Jewelry Industry

Whenever I see a company buck the status quo and take a calculated risk that actually makes sense in the context of the current market, my belief in mankind is reinforced and I thank goodness for Darwinian instincts. Burberry just announced that it is veering away from the insane Fashion Week schedule and instead combining men and women’s runway shows together into two annual events. This is streamlined approach is a reaction to the unsustainable fashion week schedule that has resulted in the burnout of brilliant creative minds such as Raf Simmons, John Galliano and Alber Elbaz. I believe that other fashion houses will quickly follow suit because this non-seasonal approach both reflects current consumer behavior and relieves quite a bit of financial strain and waste in the industry. I am cautiously optimistic that this sudden wash of sanity over the fashion industry will have a positive affect on jewelry designers and the jewelry industry as well.

In recent years, due to the prevalence of e-commerce and digital media, the jewelry industry has realized that branding is crucial to a company’s survival. In this new and exciting digital world we live in no one will find you without a brand presence. As the jewelry industry is moving away from the unbranded mom and pop model to one where brands rule, jewelry designers now have to show during fashion weeks in addition to the traditional jewelry show circuit and their own trunk shows for their private clients twice a year. Is it any wonder that more and more jewelry companies are finding this landscape unmanageable and struggling to survive?

In addition to the physical and mental strain designers are facing, the pressure from multi-category fashion retailers to create collections on the fashion schedule are placing a huge financial burden on jewelry designers as well. I’ve always been quite vocal about my disagreement with this approach. Fine jewelry is much more capital-intensive than fashion and it is absolutely absurd to expect jewelry designers to come up with two or three collections a year. It puts a huge financial strain on designers and when the pieces don’t sell because of their higher price points it is the designers who suffer. Fashion retailers bear none of the financial risk because they take all the jewelry on consignment need only return the jewelry to the designers to wash their hand of the inventory.

The designers on the other hand are caught in a vicious downward spiral because they are now stuck with “last season’s” inventory that no one thinks is relevant anymore. They then have to offload the inventory somewhere either by discounting or selling to a secondary market like Gilt or outlet malls. Once a brand’s discounted jewelry floods the market its brand equity will suffer and it is unlikely that the brand will ever be able to regain the luxury cache it once had. In order to maintain margins and survive they have no choice but to start cutting costs, using lower quality materials and manufacturing and before long brand is a shell of its former self with little integrity or pride in its product remaining.

What is the solution then? Taking cue from Burberry’s brave decision to do the sensical thing is a step in the right direction. Designers should review their business models and retail relationships and ask whether those arrangements make sense for their business after reviewing the long-term financial costs of working with certain retailers. Seek out partners who are willing to have aligned interests, have shared values and are structured in ways that will support growth and build brand equity.

This has been our mission at Swoonery and the designers who work with us agree. There is no feeling like hearing from our brands that they finally feel that a retailer is on their side and building with them rather than at their expense. It is my hope that by lifting much of the financial risk off our brands’ shoulders and creating win-win situations for everyone at each stage we will recreate the jewelry industry into one that is beautifully efficient–one where unique aesthetics abound, quality and integrity in craftsmanship can shine and people can once again discover and develop personal connections to fine jewelry in a meaningful way.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

I am constantly inundated with questions about the best jewelry box on the market, how to best store and organize one’s jewelry, etc.  I admit, up until now I really did not have a good answer.  I’ve acquired many a jewelry box only to find them impractical and much too small.  Jewelry trees topple over and look messy, and let’s be honest, have you seen my jewelry?!?!  I have a penchant for enormous costume pieces and well, unless I convert a coat stand into a jewelry tree, they will hardly fit on your run-of-the-mill jewelry stand from the Container Store.  I’ve tried the little acrylic boxes but then unless you are about to create a Dewey decimal system to organize your pieces, good luck finding that particular pair of earrings in the morning as you’re running around putting yourself together.

One day a girlfriend of mine told me she was buying a toolbox for her jewelry.  I suspect she meant a 2 foot by 3 foot toolbox but naturally I was inspired to take it to the next level.  Enter: the roller cabinet.  What is a roller cabinet you ask?  It is a giant cabinet with wheels where real men (the ones who can build you a walk-in closet and fix things like cars and motorcycles) keep their tools.  They are generally found in tool sheds, garages and man caves but guess what?  One found its way into my bedroom.  The drawers are shallow and many–perfect for storing one’s jewelry.

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box
Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry BoxThere is minimal assembly required and the wheels are optional–I chose not to put the wheels on mine.  All you have to do is take it out of the box and line the drawers with contact paperHard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box.

Now you don’t necessarily have to go quite so large, here are a few smaller options:

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

 

Table top tool box; available here.

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

And in red here.

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

There is the 6 drawer option with wheels; available here.

Hard Core Jewelry Storage: So Much More than a Jewelry Box

And a super high-tech one; available here.

The best part?  It seems handy macho men are just as afraid of tool theft as we are of jewel theft so every toolbox and roller cabinet locks.  So regardless of whether you use them for costume jewelry or fine jewelry, they will be safe and sound.  Obviously, I would bolt down the smaller toolboxes (especially if you are storing fine jewelry) and I would still keep the really valuable jewels in a safe, but for every day use, let’s just say every girl should own a toolbox.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

New Year Wishes

In 2014 may all my DMD darlings be formidable enough to live unapologetically, brave enough to love fearlessly, wise enough to recognize happiness, naive enough to want to make a difference in the world, humble enough to be grateful for what one has, insightful enough to know what one wants, and hungry enough to to go out and get it.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,
JZP