Personal Finance

This boomer’s biz became an Instagram darling

Key Points
  • Roxanne Assoulin's jewelry line has grown 300 percent year-over-year thanks to one thing: The power of social media.
  • Admittedly, that's a shock to the 61-year-old.
Roxanne Assoulin in her NYC showroom.
Source: Roxanne Assoulin

She hasn't spent a dime on advertising.

Even so, Roxanne Assoulin's eponymous jewelry line has grown 300 percent year-over-year thanks to one thing: The power of social media.

Admittedly, that's a shock to the 61-year-old designer who didn't have a carefully crafted business plan — or even a website — when she stumbled onto her first enamel bracelet prototype in 2016 and posted it on Instagram. But it is a sign of the times.

"I had these [enamel] tiles sitting on my desk for literally 30 years. We drew up a bracelet and I knew it was something," said Assoulin, who has been in the jewelry business for nearly four decades, previously as a private label designer for big names such as Urban Outfitters, J.Crew and Banana Republic.

We drew up a bracelet and I knew it was something.
Roxanne Assoulin
jewelry designer

Clearly Assoulin is well established and well connected. Still, she showed samples to her children as a gut check — including daughter-in-law Rosie Assoulin, a successful fashion designer in her own right.

They shared them with their friends, one of which is Leandra Medine — a blogger best known as the Man Repeller — who piled the bracelets on and shared a picture with her nearly 2 million followers on Instagram.

The response was instantaneous.

"I was sitting in a meeting, it was about 6 o'clock at night, and my phone kept buzzing," she said. "I called a friend and said we need a website right now. Within three hours we had a website up. That's how we started. We sold out in one day."

Since then, Assoulin has continued to offer her bracelets to other social media "influencers" at no cost. In return, they've all shared their own pictures in her creations, Assoulin said. This alone helps drives sales.

"My marketing is more gifting than paying for ads," she said. (According to one estimate, Instagram's influencer market is worth $1 billion, and shows no signs of slowing down.)

Source: Roxanne Assoulin

Assoulin opened a New York City showroom in 2017 but intentionally keeps the inventory limited and the price point reasonable (she declined to discuss specific sales numbers).

"It's accessible rather than aspirational," she said. "If you have $75, you can buy a bracelet."

There are now brightly colored earrings and necklaces as well, all in keeping with her own personal style and all equally photogenic — well suited for the Instagram age.

Other boutique brands, including Aurelie Bidermann, Lizzie Fortunato, Rebecca de Ravenel and Fallon, are finding similar success in this carefully curated niche market.

Despite Assoulin's achievements with this approach so far, she said she's not opposed to developing a more traditional plan going forward.

"We might try ads and see if that generates anything," she said.

Assoulin said she would also consider an operating partner.

"I don't know exactly where we are going," she admitted. But above all else, "I'm going to keep it organic. I want to keep it joyful."

More from Personal Finance:
This couple turned $10,000 into an $800,000 clothing business
This entrepreneur found sweet success in the luxury candy business
How start-up Dia&Co is catering the 70 percent of US women the fashion industry ignores