Young jewelry designers get a fresh eye

CBS MoneyWatch

Sometimes all you need is a little perspective.

Viv & Ingrid, owners of Viv & Ingrid's jewelry boutique learned that lesson recently.

A few months ago, a retired Tiffany consultant sauntered into the Berkeley-based jewelry boutique. She carefully looked over the delicately placed jewelry displays; the precisely stacked designer stationary; the elegant square soap tiles.

Something was off.

"She began to ask a lot of questions," says Ingrid. "She was testing me, but I could tell she knew what she was talking about."

The visitor told the girls that they needed a bigger jewelry display with more lighting. Ingrid was also encouraged to bring all the backroom merchandise to the display area. That suggestion seemed a little counter-intuitive because the founders always wanted to keep the front of the store neat and uncluttered.

Lo and behold, the technique was a winner. "We moved things around," she says. "And thank goodness we did that because we could see exactly how much inventory we were running out of. If it weren't for her, we would have sold out of everything."

Check out our behind-the-scenes look at how Viv & Ingrid turned their hobby into gold (and silver).

Another suggestion: focusing on the gift boxes that Viv & Ingrid are so well known for. Immediately she saw that these little packages were product-differentiators.

"She was like, yeah--this is your skill. This is your product right here," says Ingrid.

Viv & Ingrid look back on their experience with a sense of gratitude.

"OK--we're being taught...we're learning here. You're taking it from a mentor. Sometimes you just need a kick in the butt," says Ingrid.

The moral of the story here-- is that sometimes it is helpful to see your business through fresh eyes. If you can't afford a consultant, ask a friend (or strangers) to give you an honest take. It could be just the fresh look you need.

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    Jen Haley is a senior producer at CNET in San Francisco where she directs the news video team. She was a business news producer at CNN in New York for more than a decade and received the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship at Columbia Business School.