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Desiderate is family business and supporting many overseas artisans and silversmiths, many of them female

Desiderate is family business and supporting many overseas artisans and silversmiths, many of them female

Founder’s/Owner’s story and what motivated them to start the business

In my mid-40s, I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE. My vision failed, my hair fell out and times were tough. Being unable to work and being a solo mum of three, I needed money—fast. So I began selling jewellery to cover bills. Word spread and people began asking for particular pieces. I identified a market gap—slightly older women wanting beautiful and high-quality boho-inspired jewellery. And Desiderate was born. I didn’t know about ecommerce or marketing, so I invested in learning how to build my shopify site, marketing and SEO. The first few years were slow as I found my feet. But I held true to my belief that I could serve this niche market well. Now, Desiderate is a thriving family business employing a team of seven and supporting many overseas artisans and silversmiths, many of them female. 

We are particularly famous for chunky silver bangles and we have a wide range of classic and boho styles, ranging from thin and sleek to ultra thick. They look great worn alone as a statement piece or stacked high on each wrist. We also sell stunning gemstone rings, earrings and pendants and ethically handmade and original modern bohemian jewellery featuring silver, gemstones and pearls. 

My self-built website attracts 37,000 monthly visits. This year total revenue surpassed A$2.5 million and average monthly revenue is $104,000. We are famous for chunky silver bangles, stunning gemstone rings, earrings and pendants and ethically handmade and original modern bohemian jewellery. Fashion jewellery is a highly competitive market in Australia worth A$592million and customers aren’t known for being particularly loyal. Industry market growth is down 1.5% since 2017 and down 3.5% in 2022 (IBISWorld). Desiderate bucks industry trends with revenue up 238% in 2020/21 and up another 183% from 2021/22. I am so proud of the success and I am incredibly grateful to my loyal customers and amazing team. I’ve had a few generous offers to purchase Desiderate but I’ve always declined as I can’t see myself doing anything else. 

The challenges the business/market is facing

The biggest challenge is undoubtedly right now, facing higher interest rates, inflation and potentially recession in 2022 and beyond. Luckily we enter this period of economic downturn on the back of a strong period of growth. Our sales increased 183% in 2020/21 and we are still growing, just not at the same fast rate. We are addressing it by taking a long-term view. Downturns are a part of business, and I have contingency plans in place to protect my business in case of reduced sales due to a slower economy. Desiderate will implement the lessons learned from the covid pandemic, where we doubled down on our efforts to connect with our customers. 

We also strive to protect the interest of our international artisans and silversmiths who may be feeling the pinch. We continue to invest with them and help keep their business afloat despite economic pressures. While there is an overall economic downturn my niche market may not be affected as strongly as the average Australian. Being an older market they are less likely to suffer from mortgage stress as younger demographics. The loyalty we’ve built over five years helps insulate us to a degree from market fluctuations. Another challenge is returns for incorrect ring and bangle sizes which are time consuming and costly. Overcoming this is about educating the customer about how to choose accurately. So on the product pages we link directly to a blog about how to choose the right ring size or bangle size. We also send the ring size tool as a free gift to customers with their first order. This has helped reduce, but not eliminate exchanges due to incorrect size choices. Most importantly,we make it easy and simple for customers to make returns which encourages them to stay loyal to us. 

The opportunities the business/market is facing

I believe the key to growth (even in a recession or slow economy) is simple: 

  • to introduce new customers to the brand
  • to impress them with quality products and excellent service 
  • to give them a reason to shop again
  • to reward them for loyalty 

I have a holistic approach to marketing and all avenues work together including paid and organic. I used to do it all, but now my daughter is my marketing manager. Everything is strategically planned according to the stage of the customer acquisition journey. Our campaigns target top, middle and bottom of funnel customers. Through Facebook, I run lead generation ads which secures email subscribers. This initiates a welcome sequence to inspire loyalty and brand awareness. Once customers complete the welcome flow, they join our segmented subscriber list. 

Email marketing happens twice weekly and our subscriber list is  48,419 and we have an open rate of 39.3%. Sales from email marketing average are 40% of total revenue from about two emails per week. I use email segmentation strategically, to help keep open rates high. Sending too many emails means we get ignored or unsubscribes. But not  enough and they forget us and miss deals. So I have 30+ segments, depending on their degree of loyalty. The segments include ‘mostly engaged email always’ ‘only email with big sales’ and so on. This strategic segmentation helps increase our open rate and reduce unsubscribes. 

The website replicates as much of the in-person experience as possible, with the 360° videos, virtual try-on tool, extensive product photos and persuasive descriptions. With SEO, Desiderate is in top Google positions for phrases like ‘silver bangles’ ‘rings for large fingers’ ‘herkimer diamond australia’ and many more (2800 keywords total). Supporting the SEO campaign is the Google reviews, with more than 600. I have a PR strategy which helps raise the profile of the business with media coverage, awards and digital PR which help get backlinks and drive the SEO campaign. It’s all interconnected.  

Product quality is key to impressing customers – at the end of the day, you can have all the features and service, but if the product disappoints, it’s all for nothing. I strive to source the highest quality, ethically sourced products that look amazing and are made to last. 

I’ve learned that the key to securing repeat customers is about two core elements. Firstly, 

rewarding customers for their loyalty. We give generous customer loyalty discounts, and the more customers shop with us the better discounts they receive. This builds loyalty and appreciation with customers. Once they’ve made 20 purchases we give them their own exclusive discount code to use permanently — which customers love. We also send discount codes for our customers’ birthdays and a range of branded gifts to surprise and delight our customers. 

Secondly, customer retention means you need to give them a reason to purchase again. for us that means new release products. In the jewellery industry trends come and go so it’s important to be across the latest styles and release new products so customers can build their collection. Lately we have been seeing success with limited edition new products that sell out within 24 hours of release. Customers know they need to purchase now before items sell out. Having a strong email list and social media following means we can release a new product and experience strong sales almost immediately. 

Advice to others about business

Become obsessed with your customers and understand them deeply. Know their worries, goals, beliefs and dreams, so you can serve them and connect with them. Without your customers, you have nothing, so they should always come first and underpin everything you do. 

Know that customer tastes change and trends come and go, so be prepared to constantly innovate and iterate. Expect and prepare for a continual cycle of research – release – gain feedback – iterate. 

Invest wisely in tools and resources that give you business growth. I have invested in systems like Klaviyo which deliver a better customer experience so it’s worthwhile. I have also invested in learning skills like email marketing, SEO and e-commerce website UX which has allowed me to create a better customer experience. 

Lastly, surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you because it takes a certain kind of bravery to start a business and not everyone will understand. Most advice is well-meaning, but you don’t have to listen! Know when to take expert advice and when to trust your gut instincts. 

MS, University of Tartu Sleep specialist Using the acquired academic and professional experience, I advise patients with various complaints about mental health - depressed mood, nervousness, lack of energy and interest, sleep disorders, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts and anxieties, difficulty concentrating, and stress. In my free time, I love to paint and go on long walks on the beach. One of my latest obsessions is sudoku – a wonderful activity to calm an unease mind.

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