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For those of you that don’t know, I’m Dan’s son. I’ve been running a non-profit organization called KEZA (keza.com) for the past four years living in Rwanda for the majority of that time. Over the years we have adapted our methodology many times, but our mission has always been consistent.

KEZA leverages the fashion industry to fight poverty and showcase the beauty and excellence of developing nations, resulting in lucrative careers and dignity for the artisans we serve.

I know the 48Days.net crew is an extremely valuable information and advisory resource, and the time has come to reach out to you. I would very much appreciate your thoughts, ideas, advice and even your criticism of our organization, especially in regards to some of the transitions we are going through. More info on that soon…

Simply put, we have a handful of issues we simply haven’t figured out and I’d like your input. The purpose of this forum is to work together on the issues at hand so we can empower more women in developing nations.

ISSUE # 1: We have a large amount of jewelry sitting at the Sanctuary in Nashville. Business has been slow and we need to move this product. We’ll do sales, events, parties or anything else you can come up with. We want your ideas on how we can sell this product, and we need to get creative.

Here are some options we’re already working:
Boutique Sales | KEZA Home Parties | Commission Based Sales Reps | Partnering with other Events

Let’s hear your thoughts!

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I would have pegged your target as the soccer mom as well Jared. I've been at a lot of events with the jewelry for sale and that's who seems to be attracted to them.

So, now that you know that, you have to find them. If they're online, and I know they are, I'd say facebook is going to be the place to start. I don't think it will take long to overtake your dad in the social networking arena :) I know he's swamped and it's been lower priority for him. Anyone can learn it with a bit of time and an understanding of the tools.

What most people do online is sign up for a facebook account, post a few blogs, and then try to convert people to clients. But they don't create enough blog content (remember that google loves blogs and they're great for SEO), they don't do is consistently, and they completely missed the step of connecting with their market.

I bet your market is on facebook and fashion websites. Talk to them there. Leave comments on their blogs. Add value and be a personality that people are excited to interact with. If you don't talk to people you risk becoming a faceless organization. And Keza's story is far too important to be a faceless organization.

Along with the women in Africa, your face and personality is also selling it. We can't talk to the women in Africa, but we'd love to talk to you.

Engage with people when they comment on your blog and facebook page. Try to involve people in discussions on your facebook group. You have a perfect place there for forums. Can you create and involve people in fashion, poverty, or other discussions there?
Justin, You are correct in regards to the products we're currently selling. They are not the high end products we are talking about marketing. These are....what we got on the first round. We have a ton of other stuff in development that is more along the $200-$500 range. The products you see here will be relegated to our mid-range as soon as those come out. At the moment, we're sort doing the "act as if" entrepreneurial thing.

The vendors we are marketing to are seeing our other prototypes, so they understand that the products we have now are the first run, and that higher end products are on their way. The materials used for the new products have a much higher perceived value as well (horn, leather, gold, silver, gems, fabric, silk, bone, etc).

And I definitely agree with you on the internet sales. We have never sold much there, and likely won't. However, we do have to have our products up there for representation. We are building a section now that will be geared towards our more couture (and consequently much pricier) collections, which will be by special order only. We are about to do a whole website overhaul with new a new color scheme, fewer pages, and more targeted towards our demographic.

Justin said:
Hi Jared, I can see the appeal of trying to reach the luxury fashion customers, but having had some experience in the jewelry industry, I know that price is a major factor. From what I've seen on your website, the pricing structure seems to coincide more with mid-level jewelry a la something you'd find at an independent jeweler or an upscale department store. To truly capture the luxury market, the prices have to match, since the people buying luxury items see the cheaper items as not as valuable.
It's a sad trend, but since the luxury jewelry market targets vanity and specifically wealthy vanity, the prices generally need to reflect that.

Personally, if I were to market KEZA, I would focus on the mid-high range jewlery, then try to get it distributed in at independent jewelers. The pricing structure is affordable to the majority of middle America, but still connotes a quality product (as opposed to something found at Wal-Mart).

The other idea I had was to market different lines to different groups. The $40 necklaces and the like could be extremely popular on college campuses focusing on students who may not have much money, but are very socially conscious.
Set up a line of mid-range products for the independent jewelers as I described above, and lastly have a line of luxury products that get shown off on the runway, and are targeted price and style-wise to the luxury market.

That method requires much more framework and leg work, obviously, but I think it will raise more awareness to the KEZA brand in the long run without having to resort to advertising.

While I'm a huge proponent of the Internet and purchase a great many things off of it, I'm cautious about the concept of selling jewelry online. While I've seen it work and don't think it should be ignored, jewelry is a very personal thing and people will often form an emotional attachment to a piece when they buy it. Touching and seeing it in real life allows the person to develop that connection.

Jared N Miller said:
Our products are geared much more towards smaller boutiques. A lot of the lure of KEZA is that it is very exclusive, small run products, which says "I am not likely to see this on anyone else when I go to a dinner party". That's part of the brand and the attraction to it. We have a pretty specific demographic that we're trying to reach, and that is of the luxury fashion market. That's sort of the point we're trying to make; that luxury fashion products can derive from developing nations.
The prototype work sounds really interesting, but I'd still consider the $200-$500 price range to be in "soccer mom" territory albeit in the older category of later 30s and 40s.
When I think of luxury products I'm thinking of items like these. While these are beautiful and I could admire them all day, they certainly don't have the meta-jewelry appeal that KEZA does. I also like that you're using the website more as a showcase. I'm looking forward to seeing the new website, as I've been wanting to see more examples the work coming out.

Regarding marketing, I think Justin (gack too many Justins ) is right to point out that KEZA needs a personal face. While most jewelers are relatively faceless and let the work speak for itself, KEZA is all about the people and bringing attention to the makers. In addition to connecting with potential customers through blogs and Facebook and other social media sites, I would also provide a way for people interested in KEZA to go to their local jewelers and request that they add KEZA to their line. In that way, your tribe can help you get into more places than you would be able to using traditional means.
Silpada Jewelry is huge in the home party network--that's another one: http://www.silpada.com/public/

Also Stella And Dot--Ilea met Suzanne Ward at CWM--a S&D representative: http://home.stelladot.com/

Jared N Miller said:

Thank you for this suggestion. This is a great idea, and we're researching it now. I am not familiar with 31. Do you have a link for them? I did find Premier Jewelry and I'm trying to figure out how to contact them now. They don't have contact info on their site.

These are great suggestions, and we'll check out more like this. If anyone knows more companies like this we can tap into, please pass them along. Thanks!

Jeff Jones said:

Hopefully I will think of more, but a quick thought. What about asking some reps from some existing companies like "31" and "Premier Jewelry" etc... about tagging these on to what they currently do, but really make the commission sweet enough to justify it. This may or may not be a conflict of interest, however, due to the charitible nature of the organization, it might be preceived as ok. I'm always hearing about these parties going on everywhere.

I have a couple local stores that are interested in selling. How can I help?
Excellent! Please send details to vendor@keza.com and we'll get the ball rolling. If you have web addresses for them, that would be great. Then we can get an idea of how to approach them. Do you have any personal connections to them?

Travis R. Haley said:
I have a couple local stores that are interested in selling. How can I help?
Hey Jared - you have mail.
If you see this in the next few hours check out: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=126317740733924

It closes at 8pm tonight (I believe that is Pacific time). I will send another idea shortly.

Sibyl White
Jared, sorry I didn’t talk to you at the seminar Thursday/Friday, I would have had I known. I’m out of work right now or I would have bought several things yesterday.

I used to work at Disney and DreamWorks Studios so my answers tend to lean toward entertainment since that is what I know. The jewelry comes with a hook that I believe people will love.

My thoughts:
1. If you can get a celebrity to wear the jewelry people always want to know where they got it. Could generate some interest, but you do have to give it to them for free. Here is a website and this is one way to do it. It costs but there is a trial $1 for 7 days. http://contactanycelebrity.com/cac/sarah-shaw-celebrity-gifting. You can also google it because I know there are some articles on people who do this.
2. One celebrity, Lisa Rinna, has several clothes stores in the LA area. http://www.bellegray.com. The stores are very nice and perhaps you could talk her into having an event at her stores to introduce the line. I think she would like the story behind the jewelry.
3. Contact Fred Siegel: http://www.fredsegalfun.com. Celebrities shop there and the movie studios shop there for gifts for celebrities. A friend of mine got her eco friendly handbags in there recently.
4. Check out Woman’s Day magazine. Every week on page 8 they feature products (new theme each week). http:/womansworldmag.com. This magazine is at the checkout stations at grocery stores, Target, and WalMart (impulse buys). The specific names for those that handle fashion are on the inside of the front cover.
5. Contact the producers at Oprah and Ellen (you can get this from their websites). Send them a story about the jewelry along with a picture of some of the ladies if possible. I would also include one of you and your wife, they would want to know who it is that would be on the show if they feel it fits.

I’ll keep thinking about it, if I come up with anything else, I’ll get back with you.

Sibyl White
A few more:

1. Video on YouTube (bring out the emotion). I know Ellen’s producers check for new talent, I assume others do as well. Ellen has had several singers on her show that were found through YouTube. One was a 12 year old that sang a Lady Gaga song at his school. He now has a singing contract.

2. Contact fashion designers, they need jewelry for fashion shows but not sure how they go about it.

3. Contact Don Cheadle’s manager (I don’t know who it is, but could try to find out if you’re interested). http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000332. Since he was the lead in Hotel Rwanda, he might be willing to put you in touch with someone who could help. From IMDB website: After acting in Hotel Rwanda (2004), a film about the early 1990s Rwandan genocide, he became an activist to raise awareness of the mid-2000s genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. In January 2005, he traveled to Sudan with five members of Congress to see refugee camps and to meet survivors of the genocide. Upon his return, he reported on his trip for "ABC News Nightline" (1980).

Sibyl White
Hi, Jared. A few thoughts on KEZA. I read on your myspace page, I believe, when you wear KEZA, "you carry the dreams and stories of the artisans". That's a great marketing angle, and one I think you need to expand upon. Let's hear the dreams and stories of the people (especially women, since that's your audience) who are making this jewelry. Africa is beautiful -- the continent, the people -- show people that beauty in your marketing -- then they're not just buying a necklace, they're buying a piece of that exotic country. They'll feel exotic wearing it. So perhaps on your website, on Facebook, on Youtube, you could push those exotic images. Lots of pictures, lots of video, lots of those stories. You could maybe buy "stock" video footage of Africa, and have a female voice (preferably in a native accent) tell the story of how she creates her art -- how she "draws from the land". Create a video -- upload it to Youtube... and ask anyone and everyone you know to link to it on their Facebook pages. Push that visual. Of course, this isn't a nuts and bolts answer on how/where to sell the jewelry... but I'm thinking selling jewelry is all about image. Really work on the image, and different ways of getting that image out into the marketplace, and how/where to sell it will start answering itself maybe. I'd be willing to help with some of this if you're interested -- I have a background in writing advertising copy, and contacts in video production, etc.
If you've tried to get to Oprah and can't, try her friend, Gayle King, she runs the O Magazine.

Also www.etsy.com. It's all handmade items and is huge.


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