Ring Reno is an online startup dedicated to remaking jewellery. Canada Post sat down for a virtual interview with owners Julie and Michael Dyck, who have been making jewellery for 25 years. They launched their e-commerce venture during the first COVID -19 lockdown as their longstanding offline business came to a halt.
What are some of the first things you had to do to get your business online?
To go online from our very traditional studio appointment jewellery business, we had to basically do everything: create bright copy for our new website, take photographs and make samples. Our suppliers were closed during lockdown, so we made samples with the materials we had on hand. And we set up a photography studio in our living room to take product shots.
We also took an online marketing course to learn about Facebook and Google advertising. We had a list every day and then really just got to work and worked really hard to get Ring Reno up and running by August.
Colourful jewels of various shapes and sizes.
As you were getting online, what was one of the initial obstacles you faced?
Since we’ve never really run an online business before, we were in the dark in terms of how to reach new customers. Our old way of reaching customers was trade shows. And working with major retailers, you’re dealing with a buyer and you have a closer relationship. So now we were trying to reach people online across Canada.
I think that was the biggest challenge, learning how to market our brand on social media. And so that’s why we took a course to really learn that. It kind of opened our eyes to the potential. We were determined to create a solid marketing campaign to reach those people and deliver our message.
What about trying to replicate your offline experience online – how did you approach that?
We have been able to replicate the studio experience for our customers. They feel comfortable with Zoom calls, or just texting back and forth, or just a good old-fashioned phone call. We use shipping a lot more now – so we can ship a wax model if they want to see it, or try it on before we cast it into gold.
And the response that we have gotten from people across the country, working with people in Edmonton or Saskatchewan, it’s been pretty amazing. We’re able to reach these customers and then interact with them like they’re in our local region. In some ways, it’s actually easier than having a studio appointment because they can just do it on their own time.
So, it’s also been great to realize that we don’t just have to be a local jeweller, and that we can reach beyond Toronto and build a customer base across Canada. I think that it’s kind of an interesting silver lining in and of itself, if you think about it that way.
Want to learn more about Ring Reno and its amazing recreations?Visit their website
Going forward, how do you see the offline and online experiences working together?
When we think about the future, we’re actually pretty excited about it. We can see that Ring Reno could scale in different ways. We could work with other jewellers if we wanted to expand. Or we could put things under the Ring Reno umbrella, because it’s a really easy name for people to remember – and it definitely conveys what we’re doing pretty quickly. People get it.
And from a growth perspective, how do you see that unfolding?
In terms of scale and growth, I think we can staff up here in Toronto if the demand grows. There are a lot of talented jewellers in Toronto. And more long term, we could have local operations in other cities like Vancouver, or just wherever the business kind of grows to replicate what we do in Toronto.
One of the things people don’t realize about the jewellery industry is that it’s actually segmented by trade. We actually travelled to Antwerp for three months and became certified diamond setters. So, we’re both diamond setters. It’s unusual in the jewellery industry to have setters in-house. So now when a piece comes in, we can take it apart, we can reset it. It doesn’t have to leave the studio, which is important, I think, to people.
What’s the best advice you would give to someone if they were just getting started?
There’s a lot to learn, but it’s not overwhelming. That’s the thing. You just have to commit to doing it. And as you get into it, it becomes clear over time, just like when you’re learning anything new.
I would also say to anybody starting a business to choose more than one market. You should always try to diversify so that you don’t get stuck holding a bag of rings.
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