Mejuri is taking advantage of the rush to in-person jewelry shopping and plans to nearly triple its store count by the end of the year.
Cofounder and chief executive officer Noura Sakkijha said, “Retail is not just a community engagement space, it’s a way for you to manifest your brand and grow your business. Opening new stores has an impact on our growth in the cities that we open — if it weren’t for the pandemic we would have a lot more stores by now.”
She said the brand is on target to open another 17 stores this year. Most of those openings will be focused in the U.S. and Canada, along with a second location in the U.K.
To kick off Mejuri’s retail burst, the brand has opened a new store in Venice, Calif., on the Abbot Kinney shopping stretch. The 1,048-square-foot boutique opened on April 29. Future locations include Seattle, Chicago and two new locations in Toronto.
According to Sakkijha, in-store sales are already strong this year — despite macroeconomic challenges. “We are seeing tremendous performance in our retail stores, we are 179 percent over projections in the first quarter and we are not light with our projections. It has confirmed our need to double,” she said.
While many retailers rushed to sign discounted leases during the height of COVID-19, Sakkijha said brick-and-mortar is still worthwhile for Mejuri despite sharply escalating rents. “The rents are definitely high but we are very data-oriented and only take a location if it makes sense and we have defined targets for pay back periods. I think a lot of landlords are excited to have Mejuri to be honest; it makes it easier from a negotiation standpoint,” she said.
Mejuri’s store concept is unique in jewelry, as most of its products are displayed in the open — allowing shoppers to freely try on merchandise instead of having it fetched from behind a display case. Sakkijha feels this has been integral to the success of the brand’s stores and the concept is currently being fine-tuned for a 2.0 version.
Despite the ease of accessibility, Sakkijha said shoplifting is kept to a minimum. “We do have security, it’s not as bad as you would expect. There is a real benefit in having people touch and feel the product and that risk is worth it. We always thought it was crazy that you could touch and feel a Gucci bag but can’t touch jewelry — we wanted to provide the same experience and it’s been successful so far.”
Due to inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine, the jewelry industry is\ at the whim of highly reactive gold prices. “We are, of course, impacted, more than another industry because we are a commodity-based business and the cost of gold and diamonds are up. When you add in inflationary pressure, with people’s purchasing power lessened, plus gas and oil prices impacting shipping costs — we are seeing it all,” Sakkijha said.
But jewelry industry players that are in the mid-tier and entry luxury categories see this inflationary climate as an advantage. Last week, Movado chief executive officer and chairman Efraim Grinberg said, “We make luxury affordable to people in an inflationary environment. We have prided ourselves, no matter what products we sell, on offering great value to the consumer…so they are getting more value than what they are paying for.”
At Mejuri, where the average product is priced under $500, Sakkijha has a similar outlook. “Because our price point is not in high end luxury, we go from $50 to $5,000, we have a wide range of products and are doing well on the retail side. I would attribute this to the friendliness of where we are priced and our self-purchase component,” she said.