Ash + Ames hopes to book a new kind of revenue stream in the hotel business.
The accessories firm, which sells jewelry via its web site and through sales representatives it calls ambassadors, inked a deal with the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown to have 12 of its designs incorporated into the front desk and concierge uniforms. It’s a subtle way of marketing the brand to anyone checking in but could also prove a new stream of revenue for the firm.
The company, founded in 2014 by Amy Nobile and Trisha Ashworth, began with seven ambassadors but since then has managed to land its jewelry on the likes of Christy Turlington and Serena Williams. The company’s first full year in business, 2015, closed with $615,000 in revenue. This year it’s projected to be $1.3 million with about 40 ambassadors, one of whom includes “The Voice” costume designer Erin Hirsh. Revenue for 2017 is expected to hit $3.4 million with selling agents projected to swell to 200. Pricing starts at $95 with $200 to $400 the sweet spot for Ash + Ames customers.
The deal with the Four Seasons, which opened in mid-September, has spurred interest from general managers of other properties and the company is in preliminary talks with the Four Seasons about the potential for expanding this program out to other locations, according to Nobile.
“It’s about awareness,” Nobile said. “We’ve started the discussions already with lots of general managers. [The Four Seasons] is our beta. We’re starting here and already there’s buzz.”
The looks for Four Seasons employees will be rotated on a monthly basis and include necklaces and earrings that can also be purchased from the company. Cuff links for the male employees are being designed exclusively for the hotel with inspiration taken from some of the property’s architectural elements. Those cuff links could eventually become available for Ash + Ames customers with the men’s market now being considered, Nobile said. The group comprises about 10 percent of the company’s current customer base and they’re oftentimes shopping for giftable items.
“We’re excited on a lot of levels,” Nobile said of the deal. “Last year we collaborated with Serena Williams. Christy Turlington is a strategic partner. We feel like we have a really good foothold. Now we want to be recognized in business circles and for us this will help us raise visibility and sets us apart.”
Physical retail is another opportunity, but the brand is in its early days and new funding would be needed to help make that a reality. But the two have thought about pop-ups or studio spaces in major markets such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco where ambassadors could also schedule appointments.
“This [business] model really allows for hockey stick growth,” Ashworth said. “The 2017 numbers are going to be really strong. We’re expecting big growth in the next year.”
The two identify their business as social retail. Every season they enlist women in developing countries to develop pieces that are sold, with all of the proceeds going back to the communities where those women live.
To date, Nobile and Ashworth have self-funded their business but are now in talks with angel investors and venture capitalists on a possible seed round.