What you’ll learn in this episode:
- Why content is the most important piece of the jewelry marketing pie
- How podcasting can connect people in the jewelry industry
- How Laryssa translated her experience in marketing for the healthcare industry to marketing for the jewelry industry
- Why digital marketing creates more resonance for brands
- The biggest mistakes independent jewelers make when marketing their products
About Laryssa Wirstiuk
Laryssa Wirstiuk is the founder and creative director of Joy Joya. She’s passionate about helping jewelry entrepreneurs tell impactful stories about their brands and products, so they can reach their target customers.
Laryssa is also the author of Jewelry Marketing Joy: An Approachable Introduction to Marketing Your Jewelry Brand and the host of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast. She has presented at a number of industry conferences and has appeared as a guest on webinars and at other digital events, speaking on the subject of marketing for jewelry brands.
Many people don’t realize that Laryssa has academic training in creative writing; one of her first jobs after graduate school was as an adjunct instructor at Rutgers University, where she taught creative writing for five years.
She never abandoned her passion for teaching and strives to educate as many people as she can about jewelry marketing. She believes that knowledge about marketing is the prerequisite to success in business.
Laryssa live podcasting” at JCK 2021.
Photo by Universal Image
How do independent makers and jewelers stand out in an incredibly saturated market? It’s not by using the same marketing strategy as everyone else. That’s the motto at Joy Joya, a digital marketing agency for jewelry brands founded by Laryssa Wirstiuk. Laryssa joined the Jewelry Journey Podcast to talk about why digital marketing is necessary for jewelry brands; why branded content should be more than just a sales pitch; and why brands may want to rethink their focus on PR. Read the episode transcript here.
Sharon: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Jewelry Journey Podcast. Today, my guest is Laryssa Wirstiuk. She is the founder and creative director of Joy Joya, a digital marketing agency for jewelry brands. She’s also the host of the Joy Joya Marketing Podcast and has recently started a second podcast. We’ll hear all about her on Jewelry Journey today. Laryssa, welcome to the program.
Laryssa: Sharon, thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be on your podcast.
Sharon: I’m so glad to have you. As I was reading the intro, it occurred to me—I’ve asked myself this many times, but never you—do you have a Spanish background? Joy Joya sounds Spanish to me. What is that?
Laryssa: I don’t personally have a Spanish background. I’m actually Ukrainian, so totally different. But I’m super passionate about Spanish culture and studied the language for a long time. That is actually where the name for my business came from. So, you are right.
Sharon: That’s interesting. I’m trying to think—there was a big jewelry show I went to in Barcelona a few years ago. I think it’s Joya. So, I was wondering about that.
Can you tell us a little about your jewelry journey? Tell us how you got to when you are now.
Laryssa: Sure. It kind of makes no sense, but I’ll try to keep it brief and straightforward. My training and background actually have nothing to do with jewelry at all. I went to school for creative writing, and I started my career in marketing as well as teaching writing. My background was always from this communications standpoint. Always, though, I was super passionate about jewelry. Apart from work, it was something I always loved looking at. Of course, when I was a broke college student and just starting my career, I couldn’t purchase a lot of jewelry, but I loved looking at it. I just had this passion, and it kept poking me in the back for many years, saying, “Why aren’t you doing more with this?”
I had a moment in my marketing and writing career where I was really unhappy in the industries I had been working in. I had a job in healthcare marketing. I dabbled a little bit in technology marketing, education marketing. Those are all great industries, but I was never really passionate about any of them personally. Still, in the back of my head I was like, “Jewelry, jewelry, jewelry.” So, I randomly decided one day—it corresponded with me moving from New Jersey to California. I was overhauling my life in that way, and I wrote on a napkin, “I’m going to move to Los Angeles and continue doing marketing, but I’m going to focus on jewelry.” I just decided that one day.
Sharon: Wow! Were you teaching before that?
Laryssa: I was also teaching, yes. As a millennial, I finished grad school during the 2008-2009 recession, and I entered a job market that was completely messed up. Like many people my age, I had 20 jobs. I was doing all the things. I was like, “Freelance this, freelance that,” teaching, marketing, all of this stuff for many years. I decided I wanted to take all of this experience and see what I could do with it in the jewelry industry.
Before I moved to California—because as you can imagine, it was a big transition moving across the country—I took a few months to live with my parents to save up a little money and try to really figure out what I was doing. I took a job working at a jewelry store, and that’s where I started to learn the language of the customer experience. I got training in selling engagement rings and diamond jewelry. It really confirmed for me that, up to that point, jewelry had been a casual hobby and interest, and now I was like, “I really love this industry.” I fell in love with it. It made me feel confident about this thing I wrote on a little napkin about what I was going to do next.
Sharon: What did you fall in love with?
Laryssa: I loved the product in general. Then it was having that experience of working in the store and helping people get their engagement ring or find the perfect gift for Christmas or Mother’s Day. I was helping people shop and understanding the emotional resonance of what jewelry means to people. I thought that was all so magical.
Sharon: You told me you worked in social. You moved into digital and social marketing in other fields and then segued into jewelry. Do I have that right?
Laryssa: Yes. Even though I’ve been focused on jewelry marketing for six years, my marketing career spans back to 2010 because prior to that, I was working in other industries.
Sharon: How did you get into social when it comes to the other industries and jewelry? It still has so much potential in jewelry.
Laryssa: Social media, you mean?
Sharon: Yeah. I should say digital. I went back and forth between digital and social, but go ahead.
Laryssa: That’s another layer of this, talking about timing and when I finished school and all the changes that were happening in the economy. That 2009-2010 timeframe was when social media became a thing. I think Twitter had launched one or two years prior to that. Instagram was just starting out. Facebook, maybe three or four years before that. It was so new, and I was intrigued by that. So, I was like, “Whoa, what is this? We can make friends and interact with people in all parts of the world based on our interests.” At that time, social media was truly social, not so much in the way it is now, but it was a place to connect. I even had a blog I wrote about social media because I loved it and was so interested in it. It was a natural passion of mine. It was something I was exploring not just in my work, but also after hours. After dinner, I would work on my blog about marketing because I was so interested in it.
Sharon: How did you segue to social or digital in jewelry from commercial, let’s say?
Laryssa: I don’t know. I don’t have a specific step-by-step way I did that. I think it just felt like a natural fit for me. I don’t really know how to explain it.
Sharon: What made you start your podcast? How did you start it? Everybody has a podcast today. It’s ridiculous.
Laryssa: I started my podcast in 2018. So, I’ve had it for like four years now.
Sharon: It’s a long time in podcast years today.
Laryssa: I know. Going back to digital and content, the content creation and distribution and social part, they’re natural passions of mine. Any way I can share myself through content, I want to be doing that. For me, podcasting felt like—I don’t want to say the easy way, but it felt low-entry. I could sit at home and do it, and as long as I learned the tools, I could upload it every week or however often. I also felt like I had a lot to share about certain things, primarily in this industry. Most people are communicating on Instagram, for example, and I didn’t feel like Instagram was giving me the space to fully expand upon the things I wanted to share.
I’m a pretty introverted person, which I think surprises a lot of people because I have so much to say and I’m on camera all the time sharing videos. But I think when I’m in conversation, especially in group settings, I tend to be the one that hangs back a little bit. I’m very quiet and I’m listening. But I feel that when I get on my podcast, it’s my time to shine. I can talk and feel very comfortable in that medium, for some reason.
Sharon: When you started your podcast, what did you want to accomplish jewelry-wise? Did you have an idea?
Laryssa: Sure. I was still very new to the industry at that point, and as I’m sure you know, Sharon, this is an industry that’s very multigenerational. People don’t usually just hop into it. They typically are in it because their families have been in it, or they’ve been in it for many, many years. As a newcomer to the industry, I felt that I needed to prove myself in some way. I felt that the podcast would give me a chance to show people that I am passionate about this industry, that I care and I have something to offer. It was my way of offering that.
Sharon: Did you immediately come up with Joy Joya because you liked jewelry so much? How did that happen?
Laryssa: It was the first name I came up with when I officially started my business in 2016. I don’t remember how I came up with it, but I did like the play on words, the fact that “joya” means jewel in Spanish. I liked that the word “joy” is in there, like the English word joy. It felt natural to me because I think marketing and the topics I talk about can be overwhelming and challenging for a lot of people. Everyone wants to be better at marketing and everyone struggles over that, but I wanted to come to it in a fun, playful, approachable way. The name felt like it expressed that for me.
Sharon: I think you’re right in that it does express it, but there is so much to learn, especially for jewelers who started before Covid. I remember so many people saying, “What do I need online for?” and then being shocked when it actually brought some return.
Laryssa: It’s so true.
Sharon: Your podcast focuses on social, digital, that sort of thing, right?
Laryssa: Yes, primarily digital marketing, but I do occasionally touch on more old-school topics. I just did an episode on direct mail, for example. I’ve covered other, tangential marketing-related things, but typically I’m focused on digital marketing.
Sharon: There’s so much digitally, it could go on for years and years. So, the new podcast, is it Gold Mine?
Laryssa: The Gold Mine is a new segment of my current podcast, but I do have an actual new podcast called Success with Jewelry. It is a cohosted podcast with my partner, Liz Kantner. Liz is a social media marketing expert for the jewelry industry. She works primarily with makers, like metalsmiths and indie jewelry designers. Some consider us to be competitors, but we do service slightly different parts of the industry and have our own strengths.
Earlier this year, we randomly decided to start meeting once a week as friends on Zoom. We would talk about our clients and business challenges we were having, what’s going on in the industry, just connecting and trying to have community with each other. In those conversations, it evolved into us wanting to offer products or services together. We started earlier this year with a webinar series called Success with Jewelry. We had a pretty good showing for that. People would come to our Zoom presentations, and we would talk about various topics in marketing.
More recently, we decided to start this new podcast. Like me, Liz also feels like she has so much to say and offer, but she’s primarily on Instagram and feels very limited by that. I think she sees all the fun I’m having with my podcast and how much I’m able to share and communicate. So, I said, “Hey, let’s try to do this together and invite people into our private conversations to make others feel like they’re not alone in the business challenges they’re having, so they feel a sense of community.” It was also just for entertainment because we like to banter and have fun. So, that’s what we’re doing.
Sharon: I do this weekly. How regularly do you sit down to do your podcast? You also sit with Liz and do a separate podcast?
Laryssa: I do my own podcast twice a week and I do a podcast with Liz once a week.
Sharon: Twice a week. That’s a lot.
Laryssa: It is a lot.
Sharon: Why should jewelers consider digital marketing or social networking? What does it buy them? I see a lot of jewelers at shows. What does it buy them outside of that?
Laryssa: It gives them more resonance. I’m going to call it resonance because if you interact with someone in person, of course that is an amazing experience. There is nothing that beats an in-person interaction. But as we all know, the marketplace is super crowded. We are so distracted. We are bombarded by a million messages all the time. The moment you leave that in-person interaction, then what? Maybe you have a business card or some other printed material, but if that jewelry brand has a digital presence, there’s an opportunity for them to continue connecting with that person in a digital space, whether that’s through email marketing, through their social media posts, through their website, so the connection isn’t limited to that in-person experience.
Sharon: Do indie makers and jewelers, people already up and running, call you and say, “Hey, I’m lost”? What do they call you and say?
Laryssa: Most people who reach out to me have some level of digital marketing going on, and they are frustrated with it, they’re not sure if they’re doing it right, they need it to be optimized, or they need to know what the other options are. They’ve already tried it themselves a little bit. I would say that’s primarily the type of people who reach out to me. I occasionally get people who are starting from scratch, but that happens more rarely.
Sharon: Do they say, “I have a website. I’m trying to redo it, and I don’t know how to make it up to date”? What do they do?
Laryssa: That could be one scenario, that they need their e-commerce website to be more effective. A lot of times what happens is the different digital marketing touchpoints—so, let’s say social media, email, the website—there are a lot of inconsistencies or disconnects between these things. What I’m good at is finding how to make all these things work together and be like a well-oiled machine instead of having these random bits and pieces everywhere.
Sharon: So, branding and rebranding is one of your strengths?
Laryssa: Yes, definitely. It’s something I definitely work on with clients.
Sharon: How would you describe a brand when it comes to jewelry, when it comes to engagement rings and Christmas gifts and anniversary gifts? How would you describe it?
Laryssa: How would I describe a brand?
Laryssa: It’s so individual to the business. I don’t know if there’s one way to tackle it. In this jewelry industry we’re in, there’s unfortunately so much same-same.
Sharon: Yes, there is.
Laryssa: It’s really a shame. I think everyone has something unique, but either they’re afraid to step into that uniqueness, or they just don’t know how. They’re too close to it, so they can’t see what the unique thing is. I’m always trying to challenge businesses in this industry, not just people who work with me directly, but through my podcasts, like, “Come on. Let’s find the thing that makes you unique, because we don’t need any more of the same thing. I can guarantee you that. There’s already too much of the same thing.” It’s a little bit of a disease in this industry.
Sharon: I know you’re in Orange County, California. I’m in Los Angeles. Sometimes I think if I were in New York, it might be different or easier because you’d be in the center of things. You’d have more access. Do you find that, or do you think that?
Laryssa: To be in the center of things for a brand?
Sharon: Or to be in New York. Do you feel like sometimes you should be elsewhere?
Laryssa: No. I’m in Glendale, actually. I’m not in Orange County. I am pretty central to the downtown L.A. jewelry scene. I do have a lot of clients in New York, and I don’t feel like not being there is an obstacle at all. I think in this world now, especially post-
Covid, location is so irrelevant.
Sharon: That’s true. How about on the West Coast? There’s so much going on on the East Coast when you talk about conferences and jewelry things. On the West Coast, it’s hard to find things besides bling if you’re trying to find anything different.
Laryssa: That’s true. Yes, because in New York, there’s—New York City Jewelry Week is coming up. We just had trade shows in August. For me as a service provider, the trade shows are more like I just want to go and see. For me as a service provider, I find the people who attend those trade shows are engaged in trade, and they don’t want to talk about anything else. That’s an important part of the industry. So, you guys do that, and then when you realize it’s not working, you can come talk to me.
Sharon: No, I understand. Maybe it’s me. It just seems that there’s a lot less on this coast than there is on the other coast.
Laryssa: Yeah, that’s true.
Sharon: I love jewelry, but every time I go to a conference, it’s been on the East Coast. I’ve been fortunate that I could go. That’s one of the reasons I started the podcast. I felt like, “What about the person in Iowa or Idaho? They want to know about what you’re saying, right?”
Laryssa: Yeah, definitely. What’s your favorite New York City show?
Sharon: I go to more conferences, more educational. There’s ASJRA. It’s been in Chicago; it’s been in New York. In the last few years, it’s been online. I also like Art Jewelry Forum. They have different things. They do have it here, too. You speak on a lot of panels. You’ve spoken at JCK, AGS. Tell us what those mean and what they are.
Laryssa: Yes, recently I was speaking at JCK. That is pretty much the biggest tradeshow, at least here in North America. It happens in Las Vegas every year. They do have an educational aspect to that conference, but like I mentioned before, I think people’s mindsets are more like they’re there to do actual trade.
Sharon: Yes, to sell or to do business.
Laryssa: So, it’s me just going to pal around and see people I know primarily.
Sharon: There’s a lot to be said for that. There’s a lot to be said for the networking that takes place there. What topics are you talking about?
Laryssa: Yes. This year at JCK, I was on a panel called “The Fringe of Marketing.” We were talking about up-and-coming marketing platforms and tactics that people in the audience maybe wouldn’t be as familiar with.
Sharon: What would you say those are? Instagram, yes. TikTok?
Laryssa: Yeah, we spent a lot of time talking about TikTok. Also, the Metaverse and NFTs and things like that.
Sharon: NFTs? What does that stand for?
Laryssa: Non-fungible tokens.
Sharon: I was telling somebody this morning that you wake up in the morning and say, “O.K., today’s the day I’m going to learn more about Instagram or TikTok,” and then you say, “Why?” because 10 minutes is going to change it all. Even with Instagram, it seems like it’s gotten so commercial as opposed to what it was before, where a jeweler could really show their stuff.
Laryssa: It’s hard to keep up with. There’s something new every week, honestly.
Sharon: I bet there is. I’m laughing; my husband is a TikTok addict. My sister said to me, “Isn’t that for kids?” I said, “Yeah.” I know it’s for adults too, but it’s morphed a lot.
So, what are the top two points you want to make when you talk about jewelry?
Laryssa: Jewelry marketing?
Laryssa: I think more people need to be leaning into creating valuable content. I’m just making up a number, but 99% of jewelry businesses are too focused on themselves, the “Me, me, me. Look what I have. Look at me. My stuff is pretty. This is what I can offer you,” and not as focused on the customer and providing value. What does the customer want? What can you give them? How can you make their lives better? And content is a great way to do that. Blog posts, video content, e-books, style guides, things that educate, inform, entertain, inspire the customer, rather than just being an infinite sales pitch for your sparkly thing. That is the primary point I would like to make.
My second point is that I think most of the industry thinks about marketing in a—I don’t want to say old-school or traditional way, because it’s not really, but they’re very focused on PR. How can I get on the celebrity? How can I get in the magazine? A lot of them also lean into social media and advertising. Those are the primary three things that almost every jewelry brand does with their marketing and outreach strategy. But if everyone’s doing the same thing and most people’s products look kind of the same, I don’t know what you’re hoping to accomplish there.
Sharon: Do you have to persuade a lot of jewelers? Do you find a lot of resistance?
Laryssa: To what I’m saying?
Laryssa: I don’t think it’s for everyone, honestly. There are a million marketing agencies out there that will do that. They can go do that, and they can continue seeing the same results they’re seeing, but I think if someone is truly ready to try a different way or think differently about their approach, I’m the person for them.
Sharon: The things you said, blogs and style books, do you do all of that?
Sharon: You must be well-positioned to do that. You’ve written some books, right?
Laryssa: I have written a book for my business and another unrelated fiction book.
Sharon: You just want to write, right?
Laryssa: Yes, I am a writer at heart. I studied it. I used to teach writing. It is, to me, the easiest and most natural way to communicate.
Sharon: And it comes in very handy with jewelry. Laryssa, thank you so much for being with us today. It’s been great to have you. I wish you the best with your business.
Laryssa: Thanks, Sharon. I really appreciate chatting with you. I love your podcast, and it was so fun to have you interview me.
Sharon: We will have photos posted on the website. Please head to TheJewelryJourney.com to check them out.
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