Much like its name, Quiet Storms could best be described as both under-the-radar and bold.
The store made a relatively subdued entrance into the jewelry retail scene in 2016, garnering a few deliberate press items but not the fanfare or glitz one would expect from a former fashion public relations firm owner.
For founder and owner Reshma Patel, who never did PR for jewelry, Quiet Storms represented an entirely new chapter. She didn’t, and still doesn’t, do PR for her store.
Perhaps an antidote to her former career, which is all about creating hype, Quiet Storms reveals Patel’s nature as a design purist.
She is passionate about championing emerging designers, both fine and fashion, and less assured about the ravenous appetite of social media, the demand to always create, show and sell more.
Patel recognizes that her biggest asset is her outsider’s view, both of jewelry design and retail.
“A lot of (my decisions) come from instinct and the desire to swim upstream, for better or for worse,” she explained. “As a sole business owner and independent retailer, I have the ability to try to do things in a way that doesn’t seem like it’s been done before and feels inherent to my original vision, which is to have a space that makes beautiful fine and fashion jewelry feel exciting but accessible.”
The third person profiled in my series “The Next Generation,” Patel and I spoke about trade shows, women who buy jewelry for themselves and the biggest challenges she faces as a business owner.
On Scouting Designers
I walk very specific trade shows where either I know our designers are participating or they feel very curated. Someone has taken the time to source and discover and find designers that have a certain type of aesthetic and have established themselves, meaning they have a brand, a website, have put together line sheets and lookbooks, and understand the process of working with a retailer like Quiet Storms.
But a lot of my discoveries just come through reading fashion magazines like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vogue Paris and a lot of the alternative fashion publications. I go down various rabbit holes on Instagram where one channel leads to another and, somehow, I land on the page of a designer who seems very inspiring and exciting.
I’m always on the lookout. There’s never a time I’m not thinking about finding a new designer. So much of Quiet Storms’ vision surrounds supporting emerging designers in this space.
Exciting design can come from the furthest reaches like Poland, Barcelona. I connect with these designers either through Instagram or planning to see them at trade shows. I’ve started doing Skype introductions to meet brands if they can’t make it to Paris or New York or aren’t quite ready to put themselves out there at that level. It’s about starting conversations and watching these younger brands develop and evolve.
On Trade Shows
I typically walk the Woman/Man show in New York and in Paris I love to go to Premiere Classe. This season I went to the Garmentory show for the first time because two of our designers were showing there.
I didn’t pick up anyone new but it was a very curated and intimate experience, which feels like a similar vibe to Quiet Storms. Our designers said it was a really positive experience. I know there are bigger shows, like NY Now and Coterie, but for us, it makes more sense to connect with designers who don’t have mass distribution and are more likely to show in a smaller space.
On Brick-and-Mortar vs. Online
We’re still so new in the retail space and still operating as a start-up, but also trying to create an elevated retail experience through our store and website. We’re in the process of redoing our entire website to better optimize it for online shopping so our physical store is still the main channel for people to purchase and connect with the collection.
That being said, online sales are 25 percent of our business at this time and we want to develop and grow that. Because of the designers, we curate and the unique point of view that we have we feel like there are a lot of women outside of Williamsburg and Brooklyn and New York City, for that matter, who want to be able to follow along with what we’re doing.
Even local clients use the site as a resource to browse and then come into the store with a very intentional purpose. It acts as a place for inspiration and connection and sales, but it’s also a portal for us to connect with women and potential clients,
They use it in ways we hadn’t necessarily expected originally. We thought people would see something they love but hesitate to make the purchase (online) because the collections we sell can be very sculptural, or it’s not necessarily clear how a piece works. But I think as some of our designers become more well-known–like Charlotte Chesnais or Sophie Bille Brahe, J. Hannah, Azlee–people are seeing the collections other places so are open to buying online.
On Instagram’s Shopping Feature
Once we redo our site I’m open to looking at Instagram shopping. Personally, I love the platform as a place for discovery and I worry that if we put shopping bags over every image it takes something away from that, but at the same time, we’re here to sell jewelry.
We see from our analytics that people are using Instagram for discovery then going onto our site as a next step so if we can make it easier for them by listing a price (through the shopping feature), then that’s fantastic but I worry it could have an opposite effect. If you see the price immediately you might not dig any deeper to learn about the designer, why a piece is priced like it is and the materials, all of which you learn from our website.
On Men Shopping for Women
I opened Quiet Storms as a jewelry store for women to buy jewelry for themselves, but about 30 per cent of our clients are men shopping for women. It’s a lot more than I expected.
It’s been nice to connect with men who say, ‘Wow, there are so many unique things here that would be perfect for my wife.’
Some men come to shop for themselves as well. In 2019 we want to expand our unisex offerings.
On the Pace of Retail
When I first started the space I thought that jewelry operated outside of the larger fashion bubble, that it didn’t have the same seasonal demands, that it didn’t have the same expiration date.
But the demand from consumers makes it so fast-paced. People see something on social media or on an influencer and they want it right away. That’s trickling down into jewelry. We have to be more adept at keeping up with the demand and staggering our deliveries and always having something new to offer our clients.
Our designers do push back, which I love, by only creating new pieces once or twice a year or when they’re inspired.
I respect that because I don’t think of jewelry as a commodity or disposable; it doesn’t go out of fashion. We believe in buying pieces you love and treasure forever and we look for designers who feel the same way.