Kirk Jewelers has been family owned and operated in downtown Miami for over 70 years since Julian Kirk Sr. decided to expand his family’s diamond wholesale business from New York City to Miami in 1947. Four generations later, the store is rooted in bringing customers quality merchandise and service.
The Kirk family considers their customers to be their friends, which they’ve obtained through ethical business practices, courtesy, knowledge and understanding of the jewelry industry and exceptional service.
We caught up with Allison Strongin, President of Kirk Jewelers, to learn more about her journey in the jewelry industry, how Kirk Jewelers makes customers’ visits memorable, what she’s looking forward to at JCK Las Vegas 2020 and more:
What is your background in the jewelry industry and how did you get your start?
I grew up in my family’s jewelry store helping during the holidays. Dinner conversations were always a daily re-cap of what was happening in the store that day. A few years after college I decided I was interested in the business, so I went to work with my father and a year later my brother joined me. We took the next couple years to really learn the business, I received my GG from the GIA and am now a Registered Jeweler with the American Gem Society.
How would you describe your store using only three words?
Warm, classic, elegant.
Can you give us a glimpse into your process when purchasing pieces to include in your store collection and your decision-making strategies?
First and foremost, I must love it. Not every piece has to be something I would personally wear but I think about the diversity of our customers and what I would love to see on them. My favorite pieces to find are ones that can be worn a few different ways. For example: a necklace that can be worn short or long, or pieces that can rotate between two different metal colors. As a woman, I love the diversity I can have in one single piece of jewelry and it is always easier to sell an item when the customer feels they are getting two pieces for the price of one.
Are there any particular stones, hues or styles you are partial to and prefer to carry more of in the store?
My personal favorite is chrysoprase. The color really pops in the case and for women with dark hair and it really stands out in a pair of earrings. I also love neutral colored stones that can be worn with everything and that pick up the tones of what you are wearing. A personal favorite would be mother of pearl and rainbow moonstone.
What are the trends you’ve noticed have been selling particularly well?
Hoops are a trend that never fully went away, especially here in Miami, but we are seeing many of our brands reintroducing them into their collections.
What were some of your favorite trends you saw at JCK 2019?
Many brands have been designing pieces with a floral motif. I think this is so classic and feminine.
What do you do to make customers’ visits memorable?
We have so many customers who have been visiting our store for many years. We truly think of them as friends. We love when people stop in when they are in the area just to say hello. I believe our customers leave feeling taken care of and it is this that brings them back over and over. It is nice to go to a store where the staff has learned your taste, is familiar with your jewelry or watch collection and can help guide you through the process of choosing your next piece, or pick out a gift for a loved one on a special occasion.
Do you do any special events? If so, what kind?
We have participated and hosted many events at our store and throughout the community supporting local charities and organizations. We have hosted many trunk shows for our jewelry brands and my favorite is when we are able to bring in rare and new product from our watch brands. It’s fun to see the look on our collectors’ faces when they get to see a new piece for the first time.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your business?
The biggest lesson I have learned from our business is integrity. Our store is 72 years old and we are not slowing down. It is hard to have a business last for this amount of time if you are not treating your customers, your employees and your vendors with integrity.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is just starting out in the industry?
The best thing you can do when you start out in this industry is to be observant. There is so much you can learn about the industry if you are really paying attention. If you are in sales, the more you learn about the product you are selling the better, but don’t forget to keep your eyes and ears open to the people around you. Figure out what is making the people around you successful or what is holding their career back. There is always something to learn through other people’s failures and successes.
What types of pieces/collections stood out to you at this year’s show, and what types were you looking for when you got to the show?
I went to the show this year with two goals in mind. First, I was looking for classic staple pieces that were better made and with better margin. Second, I was keeping my eyes out for new brands that I thought added something unique to our current collections.
What are you most looking forward to for JCK 2020?
We are in the process of moving our store to a new location. The new store will have a very different jewelry clientele than our current store. I am very excited to see what sort of jewelry they are drawn towards. For me, the 2020 show will be a time for me to bring in new brands that can cater to our new clients.
Did you do anything fun in Vegas off the show floor?
This year in Vegas I brought my mother to the show with me. She had not been to the Jewelry show in over 20 years. I think it was fun for her to feel part of the industry she had been part of for so long again. We spent time eating at good restaurants and visiting with friends in the industry.