b'2 SHOWSTHE LAB- 5 RETAILTHEWRAP-UPWENT GROWNTRENDS SWEET DARK QUESTION SPOTSUSTAINABILITYSustainability just may be the retail buzzword of the decade.While eco-friendly practices have been building as a trend for a while now, the call to action has grown louder in recent years.Looking at retail in the wake of COVID-19, a report by Bain & Co. predicted consumers will not just be looking to purchase eco-friendly and ethically sourced products, but will be prioritizing these items.Brands will want to be mindful of consumer concerns when thinking about end-to-end product life cycle, supply chain management, and how to dispose of unsold stock, said Bain.The theme of how to be greener, cleaner and more sustainable permeated the Big Show in January. At a panel on technology and sustainability, Shelley Bransten, corporate vice president of retail and consumer goods industries at Microsoft, said thePops of greenery add color at M. Flynn. fact her two children participated in the September 2019 climate demon-strations was a five-alarm wakeup call. A wise person once said: Dont let the perfect be the enemy of the good, The industry cares about it, our children care about it. Our future con- and this advice especially applies to the jewelry industry, where many suppliers sumers really care about it, she stressed. arent yet fully up to speed. The word fad tends to denote a craze thats short-lived and driven by com- Until you can get sustainable supply chain assurances from the majority merce, like Beanie Babies or mood rings, but treating sustainability as a passingof suppliers, there are other practices companies can deploy right away.fad could prove to be a mistake. It is far better described as a longer-term trendFor example, jewelry brands or retailers can donate to an industry non-that has gained momentum slowly. profit that is working to empower small, artisanal miners in Africa, such as At another sustainability-focused panel, hosted by workplace equalitythe Diamond Development Initiative or Gem Legacy.organization The Female Quotient, female leaders spoke about how sus- Panelist Abigail Kammerzell of H&M advised retailers to be proactive and tainability should be high on a companys priority list. tell customers what theyre doing, before they have to look for it themselves.Annie Agle of Cotopaxi, an outdoor goods company that prides itself onFor jewelers, the topic of sustainability is definitely an opportunity to its sustainable products, didnt mince words about the danger of dismissingbring up or share their knowledge with the customer. the growing movement. I personally like it when they ask, says Isabelle Corvin, staff gemologist You can no longer afford as a brand to not make this investment, she said.at Panowicz Jewelers in Olympia, Washington. It gives us a chance to Your employees will hold you accountable. You will lose talent. You willshare that story and counteract the bad publicity and media that the jewelry lose your women.industry unfortunately gets.3 From grunge-chica ring from scratch.The time of the passive consumer is over. Retailers should be prepared While sustainability should be top of mind for jewelry retailers, its a prac-tice you can ease into, as more sustainable jewelry suppliers come online.to answer questions about the origin of their products.PERSONALIZATION When we think of custom orders, we think of from scratch, but a lot of times peo-Within that group, nearly one-third designedple want to modify what they see. More and (and not-so-chic) flannelmore people are coming in with a picture. in the 90s to the VonCorvin estimates about one-quarter ofTo handle the custom order influx, Pano-Dutch trucker caps ofPanowicz Jewelers business is custom orders,wicz Jewelers has two full-time bench jewelers the 2000s, there was awhich she considers quite an uptick whenand one part-time apprentice, as well as an time when fitting in wasconsidering how seldom custom orders cameassociate ready to sketch a piece from scratch.the epitome of cool. in just five years ago. Amid the pandemic, the jeweler has With a few excep- And the increase isnt relegated to bridal jew- turned to its tech capabilities, especially tions, that is no longerelry. The independent jeweler receives just astexting and social media, to keep up with the case in clothes, caps or jewelry. many custom orders for other special occasions. customer requests and to continue to build The Knots 2019 Jewelry & EngagementWere seeing people come in for customconnections, albeit by digital means.Study found that 45 percent of engagementbirthday gifts or the repurposing of old jew- We always had access to those tools but rings included at least some custom details.elry theyve inherited, Corvin says. weve been really taking advantage of them now, she says.Continued on page 3028 MARKET ISSUE 2020'