Couture Musings

Freshman Hazing at Hearts On Fire University

I’ve been hearing about the famed Hearts On Fire University since I entered the fine jewelry world just over a year ago, and last month, thanks to the graciousness of Mindy Fielman, HOF’s VP of Trade Shows and Special Events, I was lucky enough to experience this amazing event first hand! Held in Las Vegas, at the gorgeous Bellagio Hotel, Hearts On Fire University, or HOFU, was host to upwards of 600 retailer professionals from around the world. I was impressed to see how involved Glen and Susan Rothman, owners of Hearts On Fire, are with Hearts on Fire University. Glen, especially, is a terrific public speaker; he’s very inspirational and motivating! In fact, everyone from the company was very involved. There were amazing lectures from their diamond cutters, Brian McHardy and Maarten DeWitte, their designer Ilaria Lanzoni, Head of International Business, Gilley Strauss, VP of Marketing, Caryl Capeci and the host of the event was Hearts On Fire’s Global Trainer, Adam Fried.

In keeping with HOF’s reputation for innovation, everyone who attended HOFU was presented with an iPad Mini pre-loaded with the HOFU app. When you opened the app your daily schedule popped up, and it adjusted based on the time so you could easily see when your next class was. Also, the event administrators were able to send daily messages through the app regarding contests, dress codes and reminders. The app made it easy for people to stay in touch since you could scan badges to exchange contact information that was then stored in the iPad. They took technology to the next level by making it easy for people to post images to social networking sites with the hashtag #HOFU2013.

The HOF mission statement is “Revolutionize the way diamonds are bought and sold,” so I was expecting to learn how to revolutionize selling HOF products. I was surprised to discover that the classes weren’t all about HOF products. Several of the classes focused on retail selling in general, so it was an amazing opportunity for these retail professionals to improve their overall sales skills. Some of the notable keynote speakers and instructors included Erik Wahl, graffiti artist, speaker and mentor, Jeffrey Gitomer, American author, speaker and business trainer, Bob Phibbs of Retail Doc, Eddy Kay, Scott Galloway, an NYU professor and founder of L7, and Brian Parsley, founder of WeSkill.

Of course, it wasn’t all business all the time! The HOF team kept things fun with several nightly dinners and events, including a surprise “murder mystery” dinner, HOF Retailer Awards featuring a purple carpet, and a surprise musical performance by the imitable Jewel!

I came back to New York an even bigger fan of Hearts On Fire than I was when I left! HOFU is truly one of the most well-organized events I’ve ever attended, and it was wonderful to see how involved and invested everyone in the company is in the success of their retail partners. The educational content the company is providing to these retailers is truly a service for the health of our entire industry, and for that we should all be thankful!

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