Interview with Moran Amir (WG ’13) and Becca Aronson (WG ’13), Co-Founders of Adornia
Moran Amir: Adornia is the modern jeweler for the new generation of women, bringing both a true fashion perspective to fine jewelry and filling an online gap for sophisticated fine jewelry eCommerce. Bex and I set up Adornia as more of a fashion site than a jewelry store. Whereas contemporary merchandising has advanced the integration of other accessories categories such as shoes and bags into a total fashion assortment, fine jewelry has been left behind till now. Online sales of jewelry have largely focused on males shopping bridal jewelry, whereas Adornia caters to a female audience buying for herself and her friends.
WJ: Tell me about the origins of the company.
Becca Aronson: We had a grand creative vision for the company and decided to hit the ground running right from the beginning. This led to both of us wearing multiple hats: from model to photographer to COO. Mo and I populated the team with ourselves. Through networking and our personal networks we were able to find fantastic creative partners and move forward quickly.
MA: The company was also a natural extension of our friendship and affinity for fashion and business. We worked and lived together in our duplex loft in the hip environs of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the thriving art and design scene became a compelling backdrop to Adornia. And, working together with a close friend was fun and did not seem like hard work! We would constantly be talking and thinking about the business. A summer of full Adornia immersion!
WJ: What are the advantages of being online in this industry?
MA: Online you can truly put together a compelling aesthetic vision, bringing the jewelry to life outside of the jewelry case in a traditional bricks-and-mortar store format. And from a business angle, a pure-play e-tailer is more equipped to both absorb the volatility in the gold market with its lower cost basis and achieve heightened operational leverage and geographical reach. The jewelry trade for a long time thrived off an intergenerational family business model slowing down online innovation in the category considerably, so Adornia capitalizes on a quasi-early mover advantage in curated online jewelry sales.
WJ: What roles do you play in the company, respectively?
MA: My experience in the fashion industry was tied to wholesale operations and business functions, so it was very natural for me to assume the business development, strategy, planning, website development, and the financial and legal aspects of Adornia.
BA: I spent most of my career as an Accessories Editor for Lucky Magazine and then later as a Fashion Editor for Redbook. I handle the creative direction, merchandising and sourcing, editorial content/blog and social media, and public relations for Adornia.
WJ: Tell me about your approach to social media marketing. Have you found Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook to be effective channels for driving conversion?
BA: Yes, particularly our Pinterest page where we can embed our jewelry in a compelling total aesthetic vision for the brand. We have found that Pinterest users are generally very engaged fashion fans and eager consumers. Otherwise, we decided to create unique content for each of our social media outlets, since the appetites of the average Twitter and Instagram user are different.
WJ: What is your biggest strategic challenge going forward?
MA: Building a critical mass of engaged users within key geographical communities will be key to our growth. Our trunk shows, tour and brand ambassador program coupled with a traditional top-down online media push is our marketing strategy going forward.
WJ: Any final words of wisdom for the entrepreneurial community at Wharton?
MA: We pivoted Adornia quite a bit from a revenue model perspective, but kept the original concept intact. I feel there is a new school of entrepreneurship doled out in business school and venture capital circles that preaches pivoting as a knee jerk reaction to any hardship in growing the business. Entrepreneurship, however, is not inherently easy. Passion and perseverance are as important as agility in building Adornia.