Milestones in a business serve as a reminder of how it all got started. When Laurie Langdon added a wholesale division to Elisa Ilana jewelry last year, she knew the days of working nights and weekends, turning a calling into a career, had finally paid off. As president and CEO of her Omaha, Nebraska-based company, Laurie’s wholesale jewelry division is quickly gaining traction with retail jewelers at the industry’s major shows including a first-time exhibitor at the June JCK Las Vegas Show.
Headed by executive vice president Bill Jobbins, since the wholesale division’s inception last year Elisa Ilana’s sales and marketing team have experienced some early successes at the industry’s leading trade shows, such as a booth design award at the JIS Miami Beach Jewelry Show in October, using organic materials, nature-inspired elements like small bonsai type trees and inverted colored glass bowls in place of traditional platforms and risers.
But a major coup for Elisa Ilana’s new wholesale division was not just getting a booth in the JCK Las Vegas Show, but exhibiting in the Design Center. “Being in the Design Center was an incredible booth placement for us,” says Bill. “Business was very good and we were very honored and humbled by the incredible reception we received from retailers and other trade professionals throughout the industry.”
During the June Vegas Show retailers responded well to Elisa Ilana’s Wire Wrap Collection. The 30-inch sterling silver necklaces are strung with small faceted gemstones including peridot, amethyst, citrine, and pearls. “With a retail price of $160 per necklace retailers really liked the price point,” says Bill.
Part of the company’s success as a first-time exhibitor at the Las Vegas Show was promoting their presence in the Design Center with a large advertising panel on the first floor of the Mandalay Bay exhibition hall in the hallway leading to the ground transportation area, where show-goers would wait for various hotel shuttle buses.
“Having this large panel display in such a high-traffic area really helped bring attention to our brand and our booth at the show,” says Bill.
As if to celebrate the warm reception in Vegas, at this month’s SJTA’s Atlanta Jewelry Show (August 3 - 5), Elisa Ilana will be launching their new Lollies Collection, bracelets featuring gemstones such as topaz, as well as red agate, pink jasper, snakeskin jasper, lemon chrysophase and a host of other gemstones. The retail price points for Lollies range from $120 to $500.
“Price points for Elisa Ilana jewelry starts at retail prices of $50 on the low end to $10,000 at the top end,” says Bill. “In that range we have a sweet spot of average jewelry retail prices between $250 and $500. The new Lollies Collection fit perfectly in that sweet spot.”
Lollies complements other gemstone and personalized lines of jewelry which have become hallmarks for Elisa Ilana. In the early days when Laurie was transitioning from her financial executive position, her first jewelry collections emphasizing color and texture sold well. But the Mothers Bracelet Collection was her first real commercially successful jewelry line.
The silver and gemstone bracelets, available in single and multiple strands are customizable. The custom pieces are geared toward mothers, but are appropriate gifts for grandmothers, aunts, sisters and even siblings to celebrate the birth a child. “Mothers bracelets can be customized with children’s names in sterling silver letters and birthstones to create a memorable keepsake,” says Bill.
Another signature collection for Elisa Ilana is Laurie’s Awareness jewelry. In 2001 a close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Deeply impacted by the situation Laurie wanted to help by raising money for cancer research. Over time the Awareness collection has expanded to include a number of cancers and other life-threatening diseases, from JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
Awareness bracelets retail for $200 to $300 with 10% of the selling price going to the organization affiliated to the cancer or life-threatening disease associated with the jewelry piece. “Over time, we’ve given $1 million to various funds collectively,” says Laurie. “Even small companies like ours can make a big difference. We work with a local hospital here, and nationally we’ve contributed to the American Cancer Society, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and the ALS Foundation to name a few.”
Fascinated with texture and color, Laurie has also created jewelry collections set with exotic gemstones such as aquamarine and tanzanite as well as a host of other exceptional colored stones.
Some pieces have more than a single idea design concept. An example is a bracelet or necklace that combines Larimar (pectolite), pearls and Swiss blue topaz. These colors work well together aesthetically, but also add an undercurrent of an ocean theme to the pieces.
On the warm end of the color spectrum, for example, Laurie combines Sunstone and complementary colors of jasper bringing together earthy colors in her jewelry. An astute buyer of better quality colored stones, during domestic and international buying trips for sourcing gemstones and gemstone materials, Laurie visualizes early on how individual freeform pieces and gemstone parcels will soon come together in a finished piece of jewelry.
“An heirloom piece given to Laurie sparked her innate skills for making jewelry as an adult,” says Bill “But throughout her life she has also had a passion for texture and color. Combined, these influences are what drive her creative energy.”
Pleased with the growth of her wholesale division, Laurie’s business acumen comes from her retail experience. As her business transitioned from her kitchen table in early 1996, Laurie opened a 450-square-foot retail store in 1999.
And, in 2008 she moved into a two-story building and gutted the structure to create a multipurpose facility. Each floor is 4,000 square feet with the first floor dedicated to the retail store and product fulfillment. Most of the inventory sold in her retail store comes from the production facility on the second floor. Other complementary jewelry lines are sold in her store and online (www.ElisaIlana.com).
The second floor is a 40/60 split of office and production facility space. With 63 employees, fulfillment for custom orders takes roughly two to three days. “We’re proud of the efficiency, quality, and speed that we produce our jewelry orders with,” says Bill. “And, while many competitors outsource their production overseas, all of our jewelry is made in America.”
For more information contact Elisa Ilana at 402-926-3479.
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