Jewelry designer Susan Korn knows a thing or two about selling goods off the Internet. Her jewelry label, Susan Alexandra — a colorful range of enameled bangles, earrings and necklaces — credits the bulk of its following to Instagram.
The three-year-old brand has grown beyond the web to sell at brick-and-mortar shops including Free People, Anthropologie and American Two Shot. All the while, Korn has stuck to her plugged-in roots and has recently begun using Instagram Stories as a mode for flash sales.
Rather than discount product on her web site, Korn lists sale items on Instagram Stories — telling shoppers to use the money transfer app Venmo to pay for merchandise, on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Whoever Venmos me $65 first gets this bracelet,” read a recent dispatch.
Korn said this method has proven more effective than formalized sales channels. “Things sell within an hour or two of having it up, but it can take forever if I put it on sale on my web site. Putting on Instagram Stories, though, it goes right away — there’s an urgency to it,” she explained of the response. Korn said if more than one shopper sends funds on Venmo, they are promptly refunded.
“I want to do more, the more success I have with it. But it’s a fine line to watch — I don’t want to cheapen the brand and I don’t want people to wait around for things to go on sale. So what I sell are one-offs — samples,” she said of her approach. “I feel really lucky to have business in the day-and-age of Instagram, because in terms of sales and connecting with different customers, it’s the best possible thing. I’m really grateful for that.”
As an Internet native brand, Susan Alexandra has amassed a national following. Korn feels her Instagram Stories sales allow her to offer a sample sale experience to fans across the country. “It’s more accessible. I’m based in New York, and let’s say I have a sample sale locally — a customer in California can’t attend. This is sort of bringing a sample sale to people who can’t be just in New York,” Korn said.
The Susan Alexandra label was founded in 2014, while Korn was still working for jeweler Jill Platner in the marketing and wholesale departments. She left Platner a year ago to focus on the brand full-time, after an Instagram endorsement from Lena Dunham, “exploded the business, it was a huge thing for me,” Korn said.
She paints each of her geometrical bracelets, earrings and fruit-theme pendants by hand with a cold-setting enamel. Jewelry typically ranges from $55 for a single stud earring to $328 for a painted collar.
The label has recently introduced handbags, including miniature watermelon and striped beaded totes, priced from $145 to $175.