People. A simple six letter word that became the thesis of our conversation with Larry Schaffer, owner of OK. Years ago, the doors opened to a realm of beautiful jewelry, houseware, décor, gifts, hand crafted trinkets and other oddities. The two stores sit on 3rd St in West Hollywood and Silverlake Blvd, where they maintain a modern edge and epitomize all that is aesthetically pleasing. It has been said that OK is a one stop shop and the go-to destination for any special, thoughtful gift. Everything in the shop shares an essence of high quality and individuality. Hopefully you’ll have the pleasure of meeting the mind behind this lifestyle jewelry store at JCK Tucson next week, but we just couldn’t wait.
Describe the OK brand in three words.
Modern. Accessible. Timeless.
As a store that sells a variety of goods, how did you get started in the jewelry industry?
Ok started as a “Lifestyle Store”. Meaning rather than purveying a range of aesthetics within a singular category, we sell a range of categories of products (jewelry, books, decorative arts, housewares, home goods, etc.) with a single aesthetic to a singular clientele. As my business evolved and the business climate changed around me, over time we realized what we were selling was an experience, a level of service and a reputation. As so many categories of products have migrated to the internet, the jewelry category has, over time, proven to most suited to our strengths. Now it is almost half of our business, and is the segment with the strongest growth, so we are committing to it rather strongly going forward.
How do you see your business evolving in the future? What about the industry as a whole?
We are living in a time of accelerated change. The only certain thing is change. We are less interested in ourselves evolving, rather than understanding the change that is happening around us and reacting to it by clinging to the only things that brick and mortar retailers can provide, experience, reputation and service.
You seem to have learned a lot from your business, what has been the biggest lesson?
That relationships are what make my business. Without great relationships with your clientele, you have now business. If you don’t have great, long term staff, you won’t have great client relationships. Without great relationships with your vendors, you won’t have great product.
What has been the biggest reward of your career?
People. My co-workers at the store. My vendors. My clients. Other store owners with whom I have had the honor to have as colleagues rather than competitors. So much of one’s life is spent working, it has been truly rewarding to spend that considerable time with people I am so happy to have come to know and that I am happy to interact with.
Let’s talk more about you. What is your go-to source for inspiration?
Travel. In a typical year, I am in Europe twice, Asia once, NYC three times. As a lifestyle brand in one of the most diverse cities in the most diverse country on earth, I think it is really important to actually experience how people live, appreciate their material culture and fold it into what we are doing.
What is your social media app of choice?
Instagram for business @okthestore (the jewelry world has a great life on that platform). Facebook for me personally, I am old, have friends and family all over, great way to stay in touch.
What is your favorite quote or personal mantra?
Good is the enemy of great.
What would you do on a full day off?
Spend it with family
We know that you are working hard to prep for JCK Tucson, what are you most excited for?
The people. We are in a relationship business. The products are important but nothing is more critical than spending time catching up with your vendors, and talking to fellow retailers.