Glitzbox, the UK’s first jewellery rental subscription, ran its first ‘pop up parlour’ at Old Street Station to introduce London commuters and tourists to the innovative concept earlier this month.
Taking over unit 3, the area in the station has been transformed into a dazzling jewellery venue to catch the eye of those passing by.
Professional Jeweller spoke to the founder of Glitzbox to gather insight into the brand’s development over the past months.
PJ: You’ve been running just over four months now, how has the venture gone so far?
It has been amazing! From meeting with designers and curating the pieces, to building the website and seeing the first customer subscribe – it has been so exciting seeing Glitzbox come to life. Getting started can be quite quick with all the online support and services you can use these days, but it’s growing the brand and finding customers which has been the real test.
I’m so happy with how the first few months have gone and am convinced this is the direction the industry will need to move in to capture the next generation!
It’s so rewarding learning all about the designers and the pieces they create and then selecting pieces for our customers. As cheesy as it sounds I feel like a matchmaker! When I see unboxing videos or read the feedback it’s so so rewarding seeing someone find a piece they love.
PJ: How many subscribers do you now have?
I can tell you that we started things off small to test the box in beta. Firstly I had to get designers onboard without any customers (!) and then for the past few months I’ve kept testing with a small number of subscribers. This was in order to test everything from the technology, to the delivery and ensure the service we provide is exceptional. I didn’t want to do everything too quickly and end up providing a service I’m proud or able to tweak.
Our recent Pop Up was our “official” launch now that we have trialled the whole system and service for a few months. I’m pleased to say we are sold out in September, which is super exciting. Next month we have collaborations with personal stylists and corporate orders in the pipeline so that is another avenue we are pursuing. We are also proud to have no cancellations so far as we allow customers to pause their subscriptions month to month making it really flexible.
What has consumer feedback been like?
Amazing! From other brands I’ve worked for I know how hard / important it is to receive feedback, especially as a startup. The great part of our model is that each subscriber receives a little booklet with a description of each piece they receive, the price and a bit about the designer. On the booklet they also have the option to rate the piece out of 5 and to leave a review. So far 90% of our customers are filling these booklets in each time and providing invaluable insights.
It’s mutually beneficial as the scores help us select their next box of jewellery, but it also means I have interesting insights on which pieces are popular or work with each type of customer. It’s been exciting to send members a mixture of pieces – some safe bets and some a little out of their typical ‘style’.
Sometimes the pieces they request end up not living up to expectations whereas pieces they didn’t expect to like are the ones they end up buying. That’s why I know how important it is for them to have the opportunity to try pieces, feel them on, style them with what they already own, before deciding what to buy. It reduces disappointment when buying products online and then finding out they aren’t quite what they expected.
PJ: What has industry feedback been?
Mixed. Lots of designers, including the 8 I have onboard, totally get the concept. They are forward thinking, see the longer term benefits and realise the market is changing and they want to be involved in that! The savvy ones are interested in the data side too and like the idea of testing new products on targeted consumers where they know they will receive genuine feedback. Once designer, for example, wants to test their designs with customers who describe themselves as “minimalist”. This type of targeting is something that wouldn’t be possible in a brick and mortar shop or online where all the pieces together can be too overwhelming and hard to picture stripped back.
For other designers I have contacted the concept has seemed a little alien. The main concerns are: cheapening of their brand or the standard of the jewellery being sent out once borrowed. It’s always difficult to convince people of something new. I think humans naturally a little afraid of change, but I think if everyone agreed with the concept right away it would show it wasn’t innovative enough!
“I didn’t want to do everything too quickly and end up providing a service I’m proud or able to tweak.”
For the Glitzbox brand there is no point sending out jewellery which is scuffed or tarnished as that would not only look bad on the brand but on Glitzbox as well. Customers would be disappointed to receive pieces so we wouldn’t send them out in bad conditions. We want each piece to feel perfect and new, so only select pieces of jewellery that are durable or remove them if they don’t look pristine. Quality jewellery should last for years and be passed down through generations so if designers aren’t confident in that then it’s probably not the right match for us anyway!
PJ: What’s the benefits for designers, even if the consumer does not decide to purchase a piece of jewellery after the trial?
We aren’t like a regular stockist we see ourselves more as a marketing / PR platform with the added benefit of potential purchases. So far one in every 2 people is purchasing a piece each month, but that could change as we are only early stages.
I think the main benefit to designers is the feedback they receive, but also the exposure. Most of our customers have never heard of these brands and tend to buy jewellery from the big named brands or from high street stores. We are hoping to connect customers with new designers that they fall in love with and become lifelong customers.
When it comes time to get engaged will they go for an off the shelf option or will they chose to work with their favourite independent designer to create something unique? It’s important to consider the designer’s longer term strategy and the millennial generation growing up and having more spending power. How can jewellery brands be front of mind for these consumers?
The exposure is great as well. Instead of stock sitting unused it gets worn and taken out, shared with friends and talked about. I can’t express just how valuable that is as genuine referrals from people you trust are still one of the strongest forms of marketing. Designers effectively have a walking billboard for their brands in the right target groups without it seeming salesy in any way.
You hosted a Pop Up event last week, how did it go?
I loved it! It was quite a big step for us so early on, but I really wanted to show people the quality of the jewellery we have on offer and to speak to people about the concept. Instagram is great to promote a business, but it can also be a weird fake world and I wanted to be in person with “real” people around.
It was amazing to see everyone’s reactions and hear passersby start commenting on the idea even if they didn’t come into the shop. I think it has solidified for a few designers and customers that we are a professional service too.
What other plans do you have to promote the business?
We have a few collaborations with personal stylists in the pipeline to create curated boxes. We also have plans to target men for gifting as we had quite a bit of interest in that at the Pop Up too. It means they can still gift their loved ones jewellery, but we can do the curating for them based on the woman’s style should they not feel confident selecting themselves.
PJ: Why is the concept revolutionary in the jewellery industry?
Although self-gifting within jewellery has really grown and it’s no longer just bought as a gift, I still think there is a little ways to go to make it feel more accessible. Education around materials and gemstones in jewellery is also not common knowledge. It can be confusing for shoppers online and they end up purchasing cheaper, mass-produced alternatives, as they can’t see the value in higher priced pieces.
We provide a service that brings jewellery at a mid-rang price point (£50-150) more attainable and fun. It fits in with the millennial mentality of accessing luxury products at reduced rates, but also means independent designers benefit from exposure, feedback and sales.
“Instagram is great to promote a business, but it can also be a weird fake world and I wanted to be in person with “real” people around.”
It’s a more sustainable way of targeting these customers as well. Jewellery rental does exist, but it’s usually for special occasions only and expensive for only a few days. I want to make everyday luxury jewellery accessible and enjoyable. Many of our customers have told me how having the jewellery for just one month means they wear it more and feel special. The compliments they receive and the way they feel makes an impact on their every day. I think that kind of service is totally different to anything else available in the UK.
PJ: What is next for Glitzbox?
Well we have a lot planned in the run up to Christmas, but one of the main requests we have had is for a higher-end box. We have a “Glitzbox Luxe” in the pipeline which will contain a higher price-point for those who want it. Although my initial aim was to bridge the gap between fashion and fine jewellery I do think there is a huge opportunity within finer jewellery.
Due to the higher price point people are even less confident purchasing online or from new designers. Therefore having the option to ‘try before you buy’ is even more appealing for both designers and customers. Growing our “Glitzbox Classic” and developing the “Glitzbox Luxe” are in the pipeline for the next few months.
PJ: What are your primary goals for the business?
I started the business when I designed a couple of rings for myself and considered (naively) becoming a jewellery designer. I then realised just how many talented designers there were already out there. I realised my skill set was better suited to creating a platform which could help them from a marketing and business perspective and leave them to what they do best – designing. I really hope that being part of Glitzbox will eventually become invaluable for designers.
This something I want to develop on by becoming an umbrella organisation for things like workshops, training and support for the jewellery industry. It’s always amazing meeting new designers and I feel like I’m starting to build a community, so I’d love to expand on that whilst introducing more customers to beautiful jewellery!
PJ: Where would you like to see Glitzbox this time next year?
As mentioned above I’d like to have “Glitzbox Luxe” out and continue to develop the core service to make it a unique experience for every customer. One other big dream, to compliment the online service, would be a more permanent “Buy or Borrow” shop space. It will be a place where people can come in, try on the jewellery and borrow pieces. That way they can experience them at home, see what works with their current wardrobe and then either return or buy. We would also have a section for purchasing new pieces or collections. It would be fab to have the stock and fulfilment all round the back and the shop at the front!