Today I’m continuing with my new feature – SEVEN QUESTIONS. The concept is very simple. Basically, I ask jewelry stores or jewelry designers the same seven questions. You all know how much I love jewelry….. this just lets me talk to other people who love jewelry, too! And I’m hoping that you, fellow gem gals, will discover a cool new store to visit or an amazing new designer that you’d like to check out.
But today I want to talk about Venue Ballard, a really cool shop in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Let me tell you, gem gals, this store is for people who love art! And the artists who create that art. And the community who wants to support those artists. Their motto is “all local. all art.” Not only do they serve as a venue for Washington state artists, they offer studio space for artists, and art classes for the community. What a great mix! Of course, I had to visit and see what they were all about!
The day I visited, I wasn’t able to connect with the owner, Diane. But she set me up with one of the store managers, Geena. She was super friendly and helped me explore their store and all their goodies. Did I mention that Venue Ballard has far more than jewelry? They have prints, pottery, textiles, and food, too. Truthfully, I found a lot that I liked there!
Anyway, let’s get into the interview, shall we?
Only Artists at Venue Ballard
1. What do you think is unique about your store? And what kind of customer do you appeal to?
Everything in our store is made by artists living in Washington State. We get lots of tourists, but also lots of locals. We’ve been at this location for 14 years. So we have people who come back year after year to find that special unique gift.
2. What do you enjoy most about being part of the jewelry industry?
I love the creative process! And seeing all the different materials! Honestly, it’s so heartwarming to see people do what they love. And our store is part of that.
3. When people find out where you work or what you do, what’s their most common question to you?
People wonder most how long the artist’s work will be in our store. They know it won’t be forever, they know we’re always featuring new artists. Right now, we have art from over 70 artists. So if they really want something, they’re trying to figure out how long they have to buy it!
Training, Challenges, and Sales
4. How long have you done this and what kind of training did you need?
I’m an artist myself and love to be part of the artist community. I’ve worked here almost two years. For me, the most important thing is becoming acquainted with the product. We’re encouraged to try on jewelry to see how it looks and feels. I also like to make sure I have some background about the artists, their processes and materials. Plus, we know them, and that personal interaction with both the artist and the item means a lot. And then sharing some of those details with customers helps them make sure they can pick out something truly special!
5. What’s the biggest business challenge you face right now?
Just getting people in the store to see what we have to offer. Typical woes of any small business.
6. What’s your top seller? Why do you think it resonates with people?
It really depends on the season. For jewelry, Valentine’s Day is when we sell the most. But if you’re asking about what type of jewelry sells, it’s our minimalist pieces. Those seem to be popular with millennials. I would know, I’m one of them!
7. What’s your current favorite piece of jewelry?
At this point, Geena takes me through the store and shows me some of her favorite pieces. They’re all gold and geometric. I love them!
My perspective on Venue Ballard
So, no surprise, I loved this store! For those of you not familiar with Seattle, the Ballard neighborhood can be tough. They consider themselves trendsetters with good taste. As a friend said to me once, if a store isn’t great, “it won’t make it.” With that backdrop, I can tell you that Venue Ballard hits a lots of notes for the discriminating consumer. There’s plenty of art, at all price points, in all kinds of different styles. It rotates through frequently enough to keep people popping in. I was charmed by some really interesting pieces I saw – from hand drawn portrait necklaces to jewelry created with common rocks. It was neat to see their jewelry artists show so much diversity in terms of materials and construction.
I will definitely be back, and I encourage you to visit too!