We should all aim to buy local for all of our needs. Our latest homegrown business has made it part of their mission to produce ethically sourced and locally made jewelry. Willow Fine Jewelry has three founders that built the company with high-quality, fine jewelry, and fair pricing in mind. Learn more about this local business from our interview with the founders.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Our business is called Willow Fine Jewelry and we are a fine jewelry company that is high-end, but also fairly priced. We are ethically sourced and locally made here in Toronto, and due to the close relationship we have with our supplier, we are able to design and manufacture all of our pieces without investing in inventory, as everything is made to order. Another advantage of made-to-order items is that it allows customers to customize their pieces from a list of available options. Our vision for the company is to position Willow as a leader in the online fine jewelry market across our three important categories; quality, price, and fashion. Our current mission for the company is to excite our target market through selling ethically sourced and locally made beautiful, high-quality, fine jewelry, at fair pricing. Additionally, it’s important to us to educate our customers on how the pieces are made, what they are made of, to understand traditional jewelry mark-ups, and how we differ from this, and what it means to own a piece of “fine jewelry”.
What made you want to do this work?
Willow was founded by three partners with over 19 years combined retail, fashion, sales, marketing and management experience. The three of us were out for lunch about a year and a half ago and were discussing the lack of high end, on trend, and fairly priced fine jewelry options in the Canadian online retail market – we all had our favourite online retailers from the United States, but with the exchange rate being so high, and the duties adding an extra cost, we wished there were a Canadian option. There, the idea for Willow was launched.
What problem does this solve?
After researching the competitive landscape we noticed that, although competition exists in Canada, every competitor lacks at least one of the following four attributes; quality, price, trend, customer service (i.e customization/personalization of the pieces). We created Willow to fill the need. Over the past year and a half we have designed, worked, and reworked our 32 pieces to ensure they embody everything Willow stands for, conducted consumer insight surveys, developed a website, created compelling image content for our website and social platforms, sourced effective and cost efficient packaging locally, put a strong business plan in place, and on November 29th 2018 we launched our business. Our goal is to bring beautiful, handmade, fine jewelry to the Canadian market without making the Canadian consumer pay extraordinarily high retail prices or outrageous fees on duties.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
Willow is named after our “ideal” customer. Willow is confident, driven, and motivated by success. She is a girl boss. She values her friendships and always makes time for them. She enjoys being social, and while she is strong-willed, she does not take herself too seriously. She is loving, outgoing, and enthusiastic. Her style is effortless, contemporary, and always evolving. She enjoys minimalistic pieces that are classic yet on trend. Our target market are those who either are a “Willow girl”, aspiring to be a “Willow girl”, or buying a gift for a “Willow girl”.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
We sell all of our Jewelry on an online website that we created via the Shopify platform, www.willowfinejewelry.com. All of our pieces are made to order. Once an order is placed on our website we send the purchase order to our local manufacturer who makes the piece and has guaranteed a 2 week turnaround time. We then ship out the completed piece to each client, and of course include a small mark-up on our products.
Where in Toronto can we find your profession?
Online at www.willowfinejewelry.com, on Instagram @willowfinejewelry, and in person at the occasional pop up shop around the GTA
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services?
Question: What is the benefit of shopping with Willow Fine Jewelry over another retailer?
Answer: With us you are guaranteed to be getting high-end fine quality, at fair pricing, while supporting the Canadian market. Shopping with us ensures your special piece is locally handmade, ethically sourced, and is made perfectly just for you (or the person you are gifting). Being 3 Toronto-born women who are passionate about this business, we will go above and beyond to ensure your shopping and/or gifting experience is the best it could possibly be.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
The best part is definitely being able to use our creativity to design pieces that excite us and our target audience. Seeing our clients fall in love with our pieces as much as we do and having that translate into sales is so fulfilling. Connecting with clients and potential customers, seeing their passions, hearing their feedback, and pivoting certain aspects to better our business is what inspires us to work so hard.
The worst part is that we end up spending all our personal money on buying and owning the pieces! (although that’s not so terrible)
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
“I don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.”—Joan Rivers
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?
We love Nudestix! Originally a Toronto makeup brand created by two sisters, that is now global. We are so inspired by their success over the last few years, and would love our company to follow in their footsteps. Nudestix’ makeup concept—of being an easy to use product that enhances natural beauty, is really in line with our brand. Our product is all real gold (either 10K or 14K gold), which means it’s durable, long lasting, and will not tarnish! We try to educate our customers that they can put their Willow pieces on, and leave it on, forever (showers and swimming included)! This makes our jewelry easy to wear and enhances your daily outfit. We believe that this is similar to Nudestix—as their easy to use makeup enhances your natural beauty.