How UK's 'mini Tiffany's' is using tech to sparkle
Take a traditional craft sold from beautifully designed shops, combine it with a strong focus on technology and you have a business with aspirations – and the potential – to become a “mini Tiffany’s”.
North East jewellery brand Daniella Draper is fast making a name for itself, going from a bedroom business to a chain of three shops in just over seven years – growth spurred on by tech.
The Draper who gives the brand its name graduated with a degree with jewellery design in 2009 and, faced with either staying in the capital to work for someone else or returning home to Lincolnshire to go it alone, she chose the latter.
“She literally set up at the family home, starting with selling her homemade jewellery at fairs and house parties and having people coming to the house for appointments,” says mum Della Draper, now a director in the business.
Daniella later moved into a small craft unit which served as a workshop and showroom, with Della herself coming on board soon after.
Her own expertise came in the business side of the operation, having run a successful women’s fashion store for 25 years, and she oversaw the opening of the first shop in Cleethorpes.
Here the aim was, and still is, to combine traditional and modern, with antique jewellery cabinets showcasing the pieces contrasting with the staff uniform of jeans and white Converse.
The approach, here at its most visual, continues in the strategy of the business, which aims to leverage technology to grow its brand.
Draper’s best-selling product is its handmade bangle, which can be personalised with a quote of your choice and customers order these in-store via iPad, replacing the previous paper system which then had to be sent to the workshop.
Systems like this have resulted in a quicker and more efficient service; Draper and her employees can immediately start on each piece and communication between the other stores, in Lincoln and Beverley, is much easier.
“We’ve always tried to incorporate technology with good old-fashioned service,” says Della Draper. “We use iPads for all our tills and we developed our own system where everything goes straight into iPad for personalisation rather than being written down.
“We’re opening another shop in Bowness on Windermere and for personalised orders it’s really important that information is correct and sent to the workshop at quickly as possible.”
Holly, Daniella and Della Draper
Social media presence has also been important in the rise of the business.
“We’ve always been a very visual brand and a lifestyle brand,” Della Draper adds. Here Daniella’s sister, Holly, makes up the business trio, running the social media accounts, overseeing the technology side and directing and taking much of the photography.
She is also the face of the brand and can be seen on the Instagram account, which has 16,600 followers and shows the jewellery against breath-taking backdrops alongside snaps giving an insight into the shops.
“Adding to this we’re also making short videos to add to the experience, showing a product in as much detail as possible, showing how to wear and layer the jewellery and even how to put it on,” Della Draper says.
The website, which looks like a lifestyle website rather than that of a retailer, includes an ‘inspire’ section, with famous customers including Ed Sheeran revealing why they chose a particular slogan or saying for their piece of jewellery.
While a social media strategy is vital for any brand, Daniella Draper has taken that further, analysing the data the various accounts and the website produces on a weekly basis.
The results of this process have proven interesting, Della Draper says, and could be used to steer where the business goes from here.
“We’re analysing where our orders are coming from and who’s visiting the website, and we’ve noticed a lot of people in the Cheshire area interact with us on social media,” she says.
“With that information we can pinpoint where we want to expand to next, so we are looking at Cheshire for our next shop. It’s a really fascinating way of tracking who’s interacting with the brand and could influence where the business goes next.”
Back in the shops, staff are also given extensive training to offer a personal service, yet this traditional customer care is also being backed up by technology.
While many male customers purchasing for their partners come in with photos or screenshots of pieces they have seen online, the Drapers want to go one step further, collating information from customers on their buying habits and previous pieces bought.
“Customers can create wish lists, their sizes can be stored and we can also record what they’ve bought already,” Della Draper says. “We get so many men in, and a lot of them know more about the products than we do.
“But for the ones who don’t, they’ll be able to look at their partner’s ring and bangle sizes and see which pieces they already have so they don’t duplicate, which, when you’re having something personalised, is important.
“They can look at the kind of necklaces their partner likes and, because it’s a layering up collection, they can add to it, which will make life a lot easier.”
For Della, the chance to work in partnership with her two daughters has been too good to miss, following a varied career. Formerly Miss UK 1982, she was later runner-up in the Miss World competition and opened up her clothes shop, Hobo, in Grimsby soon after.
“I bought the shop with my winnings,” she says. “But I’d never really had big aspirations to run a business, it just seemed the natural thing to do.
“My dad had his own business and I suppose that just gave me a flavour for it, because it was in the family. My husband, who was then my boyfriend, had his own business too, so it was in my background.
“I liked it and I always said to Daniella, you can dictate and work all the hours you want to but you’re doing it for yourself rather than someone else.”
For now she has big ambitions for the Daniella Draper jewellery brand, whose bangles were worn by Kate Moss during a photoshoot for V Magazine, and later spotted on her arms when she was snapped by the press.
“We’d like to be the number one go-to brand in the UK for jewellery and we’re hoping to open more shops,” Della Draper says.
“Ninety-five per cent of all jewellery sold in the UK is imported, yet we’re a British brand, a family business, and we’re just looking to build on that.
“We want build a reputation for really good quality jewellery and a really good experience, like a mini Tiffany’s.”
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