As many brick-and-mortar retailers continue to fumble, Laura Freedman’s small fleet of tiny jewelry shops has posted 50 percent sales gains for the last three years.
Broken English, an indie jewelry retailer that began with a 150-square-foot store in Santa Monica, Calif.’s Brentwood Country Mart, has developed a dialogue with Millennial consumers, an age group that accounts for 60 percent of its sales. Prices at the primarily fine jewelry stores range from $185 up to $20,000.
On Saturday, Freedman will open a store in Newport Beach, Calif. — its third location, adding to its Los Angeles presence, as well as its shop on Crosby Street in New York.
“I think unfortunately everything has become so homogenized with the Internet and social media — everything is very accessible. Now you have to be able to not only offer an experience but it has to be a personal encounter,” Freedman said of her philosophy behind the company.
Freedman said that a carefully crafted online persona has contributed to her company’s success. “It’s about a really beautiful online presence — making sure social media is really curated and intentional. You have to get down to what your aesthetic is, who you are and what is your brand. With a lot of department stores and large businesses, it’s hard to tell them apart now. I think it’s really about brand identity; you have to hope people connect to that.”
She began Broken English in 2006, and expanded to New York in 2014. The Newport Beach location is to be located in the newly refurbished Lido Marina Village development, which also counts Aesop, Elyse Walker, Jenni Kayne and Steven Alan as tenants.
“I think service is a huge part of it as well. You have to be able to provide a certain level of service. Jewelry is so personal, that’s the thing that really separates jewelry from fashion; fashion has become very fast, everything you buy goes on sale in two months. Jewelry isn’t fast fashion, when people purchase it, they sit down and think about it. They care about who is selling it to them and I think that’s what we provide and why we have been able to survive this time of [retail] transition and grow through it,” she said.
The Newport Beach store is to be 700 square feet, the biggest Broken English location to date. “I think the Newport store ended up being a lifestyle vibe, we really drew from that and the surrounding area. Being right on the dock where yachts come in, we’ve gotten more of beach-y feel with a contemporary edge.”
The store will sell a selection of fine pieces from designers including Sorellina, Jade Trau, Cresta Bledsoe and Alison Lou. The shop will also stock vintage jewelry and home furnishings. “I’m really pushing people get over this dainty, delicate thing. I want to see more bold stuff,” Freedman said of her new mission to promote new designers.
Broken English has relaunched its e-commerce site in tandem with the Newport Beach opening. The retailer currently attributes 20 percent of its sales to the web site.