Full Circle: Stephenie Bjorkman, Sami Fine Jewelry

Sami Fine Jewelry has been voted “One of America’s Top 5 Cool Jewelry Stores” by Instore Magazine and is home to many unique, one-of-a-kind designs. The store is known as a destination for Arizona Four Peaks Amethyst as well as creative style and exotic gems. Stephenie Bjorkman has taken over the business after her mother—Sami Jack, founder of Sami’s—retired in 2013.

Bjorkman has worked to successfully build the company’s reputation for consistently delighting customers. Soon after she joined the family business, she discovered a talent for attracting customers’ attention, and her promotions and in-store events have earned her Instore Magazine’s title of “Queen of Marketing.” See what she had to say about her store’s unique style and gems, how she balances technological changes and her mother’s traditions, and how the store retains loyal customers:

How would you describe your store in only three words?
Crazy, chaotic, and fun!

How do you incorporate modern trends, technology, and market changes while continuing the traditions created by your mother?
Even when my mom was involved in the store, we were never really into following the “trends”. If people shop at our store, they don’t want to wear what everyone else has, they want something one of a kind and different. As in technology, we have always been super into it. The only difference is that my mom could never figure out how to make technology work, but I can!

How is the store different since your mom retired in 2013 and you took the reins? Does your mom still influence a lot of what goes on with the store?
Since my mom has retired, I have done interior remodeling which has changed the look and feel of the store. Along with creating my own jewelry line, The American Gem Collection, which features gemstones mined only in the United States.

Your store is known for native gemstones. Are there any particular stones, colors, or styles that you are partial to and prefer to carry more in the store?
We have been the #1 Destination for Arizona Four Peaks Amethyst for over 20 years. We “bleed” purple. We are particularly fond of this gemstone because it is mined in our own backyard. My mom Sami became friends with the Four Peaks Mine owner in the 1990’s and has been marketing, loving, and buying Arizona Amethyst ever since. We get first choice of all of the gems that come out of the mine. We even offer yearly helicopter/tours of the mine to our customers.

What are some of the main factors in deciding what to carry in the store?
Trade back and terms are #1. If you don’t do them, we don’t use you! Also last year we joined RJO and have really enjoyed the buying group and we are working at mostly carrying only RJO vendors.

Would you consider opening other locations? How do you think the designs or style of your store would differ in other cities like New York or Las Angeles, or would you want to keep your signature Western style unchanged in your inventory, regardless of other locations?
This has been something that I have almost done twice. Currently, our business has been in our town for almost 30 years. We have a stellar reputation, loyal clients, and a great community. Some of the customers have been shopping at Sami’s since I was a baby. With that said, our store is not typical of your normal jewelry store. I think that “uniqueness” would really set us apart if we decided to open our doors in another city. But, honestly, I just haven’t decided if the stress of two locations is worth it. Not everything in life is about making money. If I can enjoy my family, ride my horses, pay my mom’s retirement, and keep my staff financially happy, then that might be good enough for me!

You were named “Queen of Marketing” by jewelry magazine InStore. What types of events do you host in the store and why is it so important to offer different types of promotions to customers?
Nowadays events are super hard to get people to attend. They must be fun and free! We do events such as Love in the Hills (massive wedding vow renewal ceremony), Halloween in the Hills (free carnival games, costume contest, candy give away), Holiday in the Hills (client appreciation), Ugly Jewelry Contest (custom jewelry re-design event), and more!

What other ways do you keep customers interested and create a memorable experience for them?
Truly our events are something that we are known for. But when clients come in we do the typical non-negotiables (30-second greeting, offer a drink, clean jewelry, show your favorite piece). But once we have a client we are very good at keeping them. Meaning emailing, social media, texting etc of things that they might like, etcetera. We have a lot of clients bring their friends in just to see our store. Plus we have two adorable french bulldog greeters, who usually make people forget that they are just looking.

What are some of your bestselling pieces in the store, and what are some of the top trends that have been selling well?
Our one of a kind designs are always are best sellers. But the GemsOne catalog jewelry seems to always follow the trends and have a great price point. Their sensational studs and stackers always fly out the door.

What was one of your most memorable moments at a JCK show?
I did attend the RJO customer appreciation party at the Hard Rock. They did an awesome job a treating their clients like kings and queens!

What are you most looking forward to at JCK Tucson 2019?
My store is all about colored gems, so Tucson is a must for me!

What types of pieces or collections will you be looking for in Tucson?
Exotic gems and super bargains!

Is there any other advice you’d like to leave for other retailers, or anything you’d like to add about your company culture and success?
I feel that the number one thing that every single jewelry store needs to focus on is their staff. I spend more time with “Team Sami” than I do my own family. We have a certain culture in our store, which is not typical of other jewelry stores. We are fun and chaotic! Most importantly, I do not allow staff to not get along or fight over commission, etc. In order to keep my team strong and bonded, we have 15-minute meetings every day, and hour and a half meetings every week. Additionally, hour-long individual reviews happen at least twice a year. I do lots of spiffs for them all year long to keep them motivated, Shane Decker comes and gets them “sales ready” in November. I honor and recognize good work as often as I can. We do an employee of the quarter and a support person of the quarter. Then in January, we have an employee party that I give awards to employees and announce Employee of the Year and Support Person of the Year (they win a vacation). We do a theme every year for this party. Last year we had a mafia theme, “The Family,” and this year we did a super fun “Get Pumped for 2018″workout party with a scavenger hunt. Staff is the face of your store, so I am not sure why everyone doesn’t put their main focus on keeping them motivated and believing in your culture.

Learn more about Sami Fine Jewelry here.

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