Share what’s coming — “hype culture” is incredibly important to connecting with your audience and getting them excited about what’s coming so your launches can be successful. I use Instagram stories often to tease new launches, hint at new collaborations, and get people excited!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Catherine Cason. Catherine is the San Francisco based entrepreneur behind the fine jewelry brand Gem Breakfast. Her fun, female-first, approachable brand has garnered the love of many. It also did over six-figures in its first year of business and has more than 40,000 followers on instagram.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It all started with a small idea I tested. I pulled together a collection of 10 rings from 10 different designers. We showed a behind the scenes of the rings being made and asked people on Instagram for design feedback. When we launched, we sold 8 out of the 10 rings in 30 days and did over $30,000 in sales in a month. I was like — okay this is a store! And that’s how Gem Breakfast was officially born.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
Gem Breakfast has more than 220,000 Instagram followers across multiple accounts. I’ve grown two of these accounts into the tens of thousands of followers, replicating my success not once but twice. But I’m most proud of my success building my business. I started Gem Breakfast with zero initial investment and an Instagram account. I had no money for ads, fancy branding, or influencers, but I had Instagram!
I launched a small collection of jewelry for sale on my website and promoted it day and night. I used Instagram to connect with fellow jewelry lovers and it worked — rings sold! Now it is not uncommon for me to sell a $5,000 diamond ring within minutes of posting it to my community on Instagram.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I think selling diamonds and fine jewelry via Instagram is pretty interesting in and of itself. It’s amazing how fast a five-figure transaction can happen, sometimes it’s shocking! Even for more unique merchandise, someone can decide to buy it and pay in a matter of minutes after just seeing a photo online. It’s always a bit of an adrenaline rush when that happens!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was working with a local diamond wholesaler to find a diamond for my client. Let’s call him Marty. Some diamond wholesalers run their operations with military-like precision, but Marty is not one of them. He has probably been in the business for more than 40 years and if you wiped your hand across his desk you’ll pick up roughly 30 carats of loose diamonds and $250,000. Despite this — Marty says he has never lost a diamond. So one day I go in to see Marty and pick up a diamond for my client. He can’t find it right away and is busy (long line of clients). We agree I’ll come back the next day. I come back the next day and he looks around again still can’t find the stone we promised to my client. At this point, I’m calling my client making up reasons why I don’t have the diamond to stall. I go back the next day and he still can’t find the diamond.
Now Marty feels terrible. I told my client about the diamond and he can’t find it, so he calls his friend and after much arguing gets him to overnight a new diamond for me. He feels so bad, that he gives it me at below his cost. So basically, we go this really, really nice diamond that was way less than my client’s budget. She has no idea but I just passed on the cost savings to her — the ring came out amazing and I couldn’t be prouder of it.
But it’s always funny to think about the fact that she got a great deal because the orginal diamond got lost! And the lesson is to always take care of your clients. Marty took care of me and I passed the savings along and it was a great deal for everyone (I’ve gone back to Marty many times since then).
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
I am definitely a huge fan of Instagram. There just isn’t a place where you can so authentically connect with people and engage on a daily basis. That said, I don’t think Pinterest really gets recognized for how helpful it can be for driving free site traffic. A Pinterest strategy is very easy to put together, it’s cost effective, and requires much less daily maintenance due to the availability of scheduling aps. And it drives free ongoing site traffic from people interested in your category — what’s not love?
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
- Share what’s coming — “hype culture” is incredibly important to connecting with your audience and getting them excited about what’s coming so your launches can be successful. I use Instagram stories often to tease new launches, hint at new collaborations, and get people excited!
- Gain valuable insights — the poll feature is not just for, “do you like this, yay or nay?”! Use it to get more detailed insights! We polled our audience on jewelry topics they wanted to learn about and a used that to create and course calendar for in-person classes in our San Francisco showroom.
- Get behind the scenes — people are naturally curious and love to see the behind the scenes of a running a business. Don’t be afraid to show the real stuff, the running around, sourcing, packaging, meeting with customers, etc.
- Talk to people — it’s going down on the DM, sounds cute but it’s real. I sell four and figure diamond rings all via Instagram DM, on basically a daily basis. It’s an easy, fast way for people to ask questions, gather information and make sales!
- Network — Instagram can feel more approachable than a cold email or call. I have met other business owners I now work with, suppliers, and new friends with a simple “hey” in the DM.
- Product education — IGTV is a great way to do longer format product education for that part of your audience that is super engaged and wants to learn more!
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I already have my Diamond Tribe! It started out as a little way for my Gem Breakfast community to create a shared identity, but it means so much for me. It can be hard at times being a newcomer in a fairly established, traditionally closed-minded industry, but my community keeps me going. I say “Diamond Tribe” but it’s really just an a way of saying that together we are stronger together than we are apart.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
We love breakfast at Gem Breakfast — pun intended! I would love to have to breakfast and diamonds for breakfast with Sara Blakely. Her personal entrepreneurial journey — how she built Spanx — is super inspiring and she has bucked a lot of the convention around building companies. And yet her persona is still so down to earth, warm, and inspiring. I really think she is a great role model for all businesswomen!
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!