Designer Katherine Jetter is not just trying to sell jewelry in the multi-brand, “pop up” jewelry store she opened in Nantucket, she’s trying to educate her customers with sophisticated knowledge that makes the COUTURE-level brands she showcases more accessible. In the midst of a hectic schedule of in-store and on-island events, Katherine carved out some time to chat with us about her vision for the store, and the steps she’s taking to make her dream a reality.
COUTURE: Tell us about The Vault! What inspired you to open a multi-brand store and work directly with consumers?
Katherine Jetter: I’ve wanted to do this forever! I love sales. I think a lot of designers don’t love sales but I love it; I love working with the consumer. It’s been a dream for me to show what the world has to offer in terms of the best jewelry out there. I get excited about the content of jewelry, the gemological knowledge, the science behind the manufacturing and the techniques involved, and there are so many artists who I respect whose workmanship is exceptional. It’s thrilling for me to be able to convey to the consumer the specifics of why these artists are so superior.
COUTURE: What specific things are you doing to educate the consumer?
KJ: I was just the featured lecturer at one of the two “Martini Nights” that the Westmoor Club holds each season. [Westmoor Club is a members-only club on Nantucket.] I gave a lecture on paraiba tourmaline, spinel, Argyle pink diamonds and investment grade stones, and artist Margo McKinney spoke about South Sea Pearls and how to identify luster, size and quality. Afterwards we had a sit down dinner with 25 women.
The following day we had over $3 million worth of loose gemstones in the shop and we invited our guests to come in for a custom design experience with me and Margo.
When Sorellina came in for their personal appearance, we gave presentations on how to layer jewelry with an urban-chic style. When Jade Trau was here, the focus was on diamond quality and wearable pieces. We had [pearl diver] Will Hanigan in to give a pearl lecture on South Sea pearl diving and how that happens and how temperature changes can affect shells and pearl quality. We’re looking forward to more education-focused events during the rest of the season, including an opal lecture I’m giving, and an event with Myriam Gumuchian next week.
COUTURE: How is everyone responding to your approach?
KJ: Everyone is out of their minds with excitement! The word has spread very quickly. It’s a very small community and I’ve been coming here for 10 years so I have a lot of friends across the island in all of these little pockets. Every jewelry oriented mind has been catching wind of what we’re doing and their eyes are just dropping out of their heads!
These consumers already have extremely sophisticated knowledge about jewelry, and they have access to everything in the world, but to gain an even more thorough knowledge of these artists and what they’re doing is just a very cool experience for them.
COUTURE: Does your status as a jewelry designer influence your approach to retail?
KJ: I love designing and I love what I do, but I know I’m not for everyone, and I have friends who love and trust me, and I’m thrilled to remove my ego and sell their work. This is about me sharing my love of jewelry and the artists who are creating it.
In working with designers as a retailer, I apply a very strict code of ethics with regard to repairs, paying on time, customer service and basically just showing the designers the respect that they deserve. I have so much love and admiration for my peers, and I want to lift them up. We need to give each other support because we all need that!
And for the customers, I think it’s a unique experience for them to work with someone with the knowledge of stones and structure that I have as opposed to a pure, sales strategy.
COUTURE: We couldn’t help but notice you’ve sourced the majority of the designers you work with from COUTURE?!
KJ: COUTURE is my home! It’s been my home since I launched my collection in 2008, and I consider myself a part of the COUTURE family in terms of the people that run the show, all of the amazing friends and fellow designers that I’ve met at COUTURE, and the terrific retailers who attend. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.
COUTURE: Have you learned anything from your experience so far?
KJ: Walking COUTURE and asking my peers to work with me…I was so thrilled and happy with the response! I realized that we have to keep being nimble. Times are changing rapidly with the internet and consumer buying habits, and I want to make sure I can survive and still do what I love and make an income so that I have a career and not just a hobby. I have all of this knowledge and hopefully I can share it and make the world more aware of all of these amazing artists!