Part 2 of a jewelry business success story
© by Gretta Van Someren; all rights reserved.
From classic elegance to suburban chic, Attérg™ (ah-ter-zh) presents ever-evolving jewelry designs in multiple styles and color choices.
Each piece is individually crafted by hand in the home studio of designer Gretta Van Someren, with meticulous care and attention to detail.
Her designs feature high quality semiprecious stones, freshwater pearls, hand-forged metalwork and Greek leather in sterling silver and 14k gold fill.
Attérg™ designs have been seen on television, featured in the national and international press.
They are favorites among fashion-savvy celebrities like Eva Longoria, Brooke Shields, Drew Barrymore, Rachael Ray and Courteney Cox Arquette.
Gretta’s work is available in select retail stores throughout the U.S., Canada and Japan.
Her jewelry can also be seen and purchased online at Attérg™ Jewelry Design.
Interview with Gretta Van Someren:
by Rena Klingenberg
Note: We last chatted with Gretta two years ago, in Part 1
of her jewelry business success story. Now let’s catch up with her again – and discover how much her jewelry business has evolved since then!
1) Gretta, in the past year, you’ve completely re-branded your jewelry business, including a new name, new packaging, and a new look.
What made you decide to take that step?
When I first launched the business in 1999 under the name, Pizzazz Creations™, I was involved with and selling fine art, handmade greeting cards, hand-painted accessories, writing poetry, AND making jewelry.
The name “Pizzazz Creations” was general enough to encompass all of my creative endeavors.
The need for more space to house materials for each medium led me to focus my energies where my main passion lies — in jewelry design.
Since then, I’ve been in pursuit of a more befitting business name to represent my jewelry line.
In Aug. of 2006, Attérg™ (ah-ter-zh), an inversion of my own name, was born of this pursuit.
As for Attérg™, I’m often asked “why” I chose this name. For many years, along with the help of friends, family and a business consultant, I researched many names to represent my company. And as soon as I liked one, I’d purchase and reserve the domain name. I swear I had more domain names than Bill Gates!
Names like “gretta.com” and “Studio G” were already taken. “Rachel Madison” (after my daughters) was too common, not to mention too long and hard to fit on packaging. One of the names we considered turned out to be that of a pornographic website! (We quickly nixed that idea!)
Because Attérg™ was a reflection of me (my name spelled backwards) and my desire was to create pieces that reflected a wearer’s personality and style, the tagline “A reflection of YOU™…” seemed most appropriate.
2) Do you have any tips for other jewelry artists who are considering re-branding their businesses?
Do a ton of research and plan for the unexpected!
Little things like registering your new name with the Federal government and your state, revamping your website, updating the name on your merchant account, your business checks and forms (invoices, sales receipts, etc) – each takes time and can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared.
I spent many sleepless nights trying to consider all of the logistics and actions necessary to make the change as smooth as possible.
Also important is to keep in mind the financial obligations per initial costs of implementing your new logo on things like string tags, packaging, earrings cards, etc. Basically anything you use that entails your current company name.
Another tip: I highly recommend writing and/or hiring someone to write and submit a press release about the change. Designing a press kit is a good place to start. It makes you think about the “why”, “how” and “what if’s” regarding the change. Is it really worth it? If you can answer yes to these questions, then go for it!
Last… it’s SO important to notify your current customers about the change. Sending an email or postcard is a simple way to do this.
3) Since I last interviewed you two years ago, you’ve gone into an exciting new market with your jewelry. Can you tell us about it?
I’m not quite sure I’ve gone in a “different” direction but rather, have pinpointed the area I enjoy working in most.
Although I love working with art galleries AND boutiques, I especially enjoy the fashion market. I guess you could say “my passion lies in fashion”. (Sorry, bad rhyme.)
My goal is to implement an artistic touch to my jewelry AND create desirable pieces for the “fashion-savvy” consumer who prefers the more unique, exclusive piece as opposed to that which is mass-manufactured. “Artistic-Fashion” you could say.
4) Who are some of the celebrities who have worn your jewelry? And have you Ever heard back from any of them?
OOO… let’s see… Courteney Cox Arquette, Eva Longoria, Rachael Ray, Molly Sims, contestants from NBC’s television series “The Apprentice”, Ellen Pompano, Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez, Jennifer Garner and others.
I’ve heard back from a few of them. The most exciting was a handwritten “thank you” note from Brooke Shields!!
(Which, btw, is taped to my mirror for those “What am I doing?” and “Who do I think I am?” days.) :o)
I’ve also heard (through the grapevine) that Rachael Ray will be contacting me, but I won’t hold my breath.
5) Your jewelry has also been included in celebrity gift bags at film festivals. How did you find out about those opportunities, and get your jewelry included?
I researched many product placement companies – many (most) of which require a huge fee and large quantities of your product.
Because my cash flow and man-power (ability to produce) was very limited and I prefer to create one-of-a-kind designs and offer “limited edition” pieces on a very small scale, most of their requirements were beyond my means.
However, the company (to remain nameless) I did work with was at the request of an event coordinator whose business offered product placement for a minimal fee, and believed in highlighting the exclusitivity and uniqueness of a product as opposed to that which was mass-produced.
This of course meant only a small quantity of merchandise was expected. Perfect!
6) Does the celebrity and product placement market require more one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, or production work?
I’ve found that most celebrities prefer jewelry that is custom made and/or pieces that aren’t readily available to anyone and everywhere.
7) What are some of the most exciting experiences you’ve had since taking your jewelry business in this new direction?
One of my more recent “Wow… this is exciting!!” moments was spotting Drew Barrymore wearing my earrings in a Star magazine.
8) What are some of the challenges?
Sleep deprivation and meeting the daily demands of a new and thriving business. Or as friend and designer, Heidi Hale would say, learning to handle the growing pains. I’m beginning to live by the motto “Under-promise and over-deliver”!
9) How has it changed your business goals?
My goal is to take the company to a bigger, higher level without lessening the quality and uniqueness of my designs.
10) Would you say the product placement and celebrity jewelry market is a wide-open field, or is it pretty competitive?
It’s VERY competitive! I was very fortunate to have a father who, as a Dean of a College of Arts and Communications, often met with and entertained “big” names.
I learned from an early age that those in the entertainment business are just that. They may have more talent and larger wallets than the general population; but they still eat, sleep and fart (sorry) like everyone else.
11) Do you have any tips for other jewelry artists who are interested in breaking into this market?
LOVE what you do! Be willing and able to take rejection, turn it into constructive criticism, and use it to better your product. And last, be ready to give away a LOT of free stuff!
12) In addition to your exciting new foray into the celebrity and product placement market, your jewelry is being sold in a growing number of shops and galleries – in the U.S. as well as internationally! Do you work directly with shops yourself, or do you have sales representatives? And how do you contact new shops and galleries about carrying your work?
Yes, I do work directly with my retailers. At this time, I don’t have any sales representatives and have been fortunate to have been contacted by numerous shops about carrying my work. However, I’m also aware this can change overnight, so perhaps I’ll have an answer to the “how to’s” in Part 3 of another “Rena interview”. :o)
13) Are you also still doing local trunk shows, and sales events in your home studio?
I still enjoy the occasional trunk show in my studio (it gets pretty lonely at times), but hold them on a very minimal basis.
14) Your website has two especially neat features that make life easier for your customers: A wish list, and an option within your shopping cart that enables local customers to order online and pick up their jewelry orders directly from your studio instead of having them shipped. Do a lot of customers use these helpful features?
Yes and yes! It took awhile for the Wish List to catch on, but was well worth the wait. Customers can “window shop with a mouse” and if they choose, may have their wish list emailed to friends/family that might otherwise not have a clue as to what they’d like.
After all, it’s much more fun to receive a piece of jewelry than the same bathrobe and slippers in different colors year after year!
Having the option for local customers to pick up their jewelry in order to avoid the shipping fee has proven to be a great feature we more recently implemented on the site.
I can’t tell you how many times a local customer would send an order via email and before I could get to it, someone else would purchase the same piece on my website. Having the “in-studio” pickup option has eliminated this problem.
15) How have your jewelry lines or production techniques changed in response To your re-branding and new markets?
My jewelry lines are more diverse and cater to a wider audience. My production “techniques” haven’t changed, however I do try to make similar type pieces in one sitting.
For example, I work solely on metalwork on day, stringing another.
16) Along with all the other new things you’re involved in with your jewelry business, I know you are continually infusing your jewelry lines with new techniques and materials. What jewelry classes or workshops have you taken lately?
In the summer of 2006 I learned to fuse fine silver wire under the instruction of talented artist and teacher, Kriss Silva.
17) As a wife, mom of three children, and owner of a rapidly growing home business, have you developed new ways to balance it all, since our last interview?
I pay my children and have more sex with my husband. (Just kidding!)
Seriously, learning to balance family life with work has been my biggest challenge since day one.
Something that has helped has been to implement a designated family night in which I’m not allowed to work.
My husband and I also make it a point to go on an occasional “date”.
18) What other exciting new things are on the horizon for you and for Attérg™?
I’m so excited and blessed to have yet another venture in my life!
With my goal being to enhance my production/design time and the growth of my business while at the same time, lessen the paperwork – I recently teamed with Amy Lynn, a terrific gal who has the business sense I lack.
Unfortunately, my degree in music didn’t cover classes like Business and Marketing 101. :o)
Having known Amy Lynn only a short time (she’s also one of my retailers), we’ve made a wonderful connection and are looking forward to working together for many years to come.
I guess you could say she fulfills the (missing) left side of my brain whereas I’m the right. :o)
19) Do you have any advice for other jewelry artists who are considering going in new directions with their work?
Do your research, know your market, budget your time, consider the financial obligations, have patience, be willing to revamp, revise, and revamp again, LOVE what you do, “cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s” and then… GO FOR IT!!
Note from Rena:
Gretta, I deeply appreciate your time and openness in sharing Part 2 of your innovative jewelry business journey with us. It’s always thrilling to see your new jewelry designs and hear about your new successes.
Best of luck to you and to Attérg™ as you continue to conquer new territory! :o)