We’ve worshipped the statement necklaces, stacks of bangles, and luxe-looking studs found at BaubleBar.com for years now, so when we found out they were opening a real, bona fide, brick-and-mortar store we totally lost it. But then…we found it, and got the inside scoop from Katharine Hill, BaubleBar’s Director of Offline, on making the move from .com to Fifth Avenue…
Katharine: It’s been so exciting! We opened to friends and family first, and then the public, and the customer contact has been incredible. We set up the Bar to be very social, with mirrors everywhere, and unlike in a clothing store where you’re trying things on in a fitting room, everyone is right out in the open. You have complete strangers offering each other advice on what to try, and it gets some women outside their comfort zone and trying new things. It’s like shopping with all of your girlfriends at once; it’s all about instant reinforcement.
R: Usually we see retailers start in a physical store and then go online, but you gals did it the other way around. How has this approach led to your success in both areas?
K: There was no one-stop shop online for fashion jewelry, so we found that niche. You could find one piece here and once piece there, but we were able to find the best quality fashion jewelry and offer it in one place at a great price.
R: Well, judging by how often we see you featured on our fav style blogs (including, ahem, our own) you’ve clearly been successful online. Why the move to in-store shopping?
K: We always offered free shipping and tons of products online, but sometimes customers need to buy something now for a weekend event — or just because they have to have it! We wanted to provide an even greater ease of purchase, which is especially important for fashion jewelry where trends change so quickly. And we’re going to change up the store every two weeks to be sure we’re keeping up with the latest trends.
K: Quick turnaround is key. Both online and offline, we try to offer a variety of products to keep up with trends. Unlike department stores, which have go-to suppliers regardless of current styles, we are constantly changing our products based on the feedback we get from our customers. And now that we have a physical store, we’re even more in touch with our customer; she can come in and ask about a necklace that she saw on a fashion blog and we can provide a similar style in a couple of days.
R: Not only do you guys mix lots of styles — glam, bohemian, contemporary — but we’ve noticed a variety of high and low price points as well. Why is this important to your overall strategy?
K: Trends come and go, and many women don’t want to shell out tons of money to keep up with them. But at the same time, some of our customers want that super luxe bangle from Italy. So we offer products that run the spectrum, and there’s something for everyone.
R: We talk a lot about the transformative qualities of accessories, and the idea that fun new accessories can be a way better investment than replacing your entire wardrobe. Thoughts?
K: Totally, I do this myself! I tend to buy clothing in basic colors and styles that’s higher quality, but wearable for several seasons, and then refresh my outfits with new jewelry in seasonal trends. A statement necklace for $30-35 can completely change an outfit.
K: We offer all kinds of different trends depending on the location of our buyers; so, for example, here in New York it’s benefit season so we’re rolling out a lot of bling for fancy events and galas. But I’d say that there are a few pieces that are huge no matter where you live. One is the Peter Pan collar, which is a surprise hit that people just can’t get enough of! For a staple piece, we love a good bib necklace in a variety of colors, which can really change up an outfit whether it’s jeans or an LBD.
R: And if you’re going to splurge on one piece, what should it be?
K: I’d say a great pair of cushioned studs; they’re just so classic! We carry them at a variety of price points and different colors. You can wear them to work or to drinks and they’ll go with every outfit in your closet…not to mention they’ll never go out of style!