Owner Mallory Blair supports Native American-made jewelry through her turquoise business and strong social media presence.
With a focus on authenticity, Turquoise & Co. has navigated the current market with attention to customer preferences, an eye-catching online presence, and a commitment to individuality. We talked with owner Mallory Blair about the necessity of a fashion brand’s digital efforts and real-world wearability.
Tell us about your brand/store style – what does style mean to you?
I started Turquoise & Co. because I have a love for Native American jewelry. We try to focus on authentic Native American jewelry, so we do not carry anything that is not Native American made. We try to make sure that we give credit to the artisans. That's something I'm really big on. Not all turquoise companies do that. We try our best to always make sure that we’re giving [credit]. We want to be essentially like a middleman for artists. We want the artists to get recognition for the work they're doing.
And we try to carry timeless pieces that will never go out of style. We do carry a handful of pieces from time to time that are more trendy, but I try to stick more to the traditional style so that when people are shopping with us, they're buying something that they're going to love 10 years from now, not something that they're going to look back in a year and be like, ‘I don't like this anymore. This is not in style.’ So we really try to keep everything that we carry more on the traditional side of things.
Also, we focus a lot on stones. We try to make sure that we're using all U.S.-sourced stones, unless it's a mine that we don’t produce that color in the United States, so like Golden Hills is really popular right now, and it's a really, really light blue turquoise. So we will carry Golden Hills, even though it's not from the U.S., but we try our best to make sure that the majority of our pieces are made from turquoise that’s sourced within the United States.
Do you feel buyer confidence has returned? What factors influence your answer?
We were very fortunate in the fact that the pandemic didn't really affect our online sales. I mean it affected our sales as a total, because we weren't able to do a lot of the shows that we had done in the past, and so [for] our customer base that likes to shop in person, that wasn't something that was readily available until the NFR rolled around. [For] our online sales, we were very fortunate it didn't really affect us there. We have struggled with sourcing pieces. New Mexico was hit really, really hard with COVID, and a lot of stuff was very shut down, so there was a moment in time where we weren't really getting anything new in and [it] still kind of continued to be a struggle even late [into the pandemic]. Some of my artists have been sick. Their families have been sick and that kind of thing, and so they haven't been working as much. Business-wise, I think the lack of being able to source stuff has affected us more than things being shut down.
Has the company’s digital strategy evolved over the last year?
We’ve really tried to stay on top of our social media. That really has a huge impact. I feel like everybody feels this in the fashion industry, that everything ties back to social media. If we quit posting on social media, I think that directly affects our sales, and I think it’s just getting our pieces out in front of people to where they don't really have to go looking. I feel like a lot of people, how they shop now is they're going to scroll through social media anyway, so if it's presented in front of them where they don't have to go search it, that kind of is what drives the majority of our sales. We've even noticed that we can have things on the website, and we can post them on social media. We could’ve had them for a couple months, and we'll post them on social media and [they’ll sell]. If they don't sell, we can track the clicks, and we see those product pages visited a lot more, so I think social media drives a lot of it.
What is your best tip for online growth/engaging with your audience?
I honestly think that keeping your social media content fresh and branding yourself [is key]. Everybody knows that Turquoise and Co., we're known for the white background. All our pictures are very clean, and that's something that we're known for. There are other companies that are known for a rustic background, but I think branding yourself to where when somebody is scrolling through social media, they can get a glimpse of your photo, and they know that it's you, I think that's really important. Then [another tip is] just really staying on top of communicating with your customers. I think that it's so easy to get caught up in the other aspects of your business that you might get behind on responding to comments and messages on your social media, and I think that's super important. Even if somebody just has simple questions, or we do try-ons. So we have designated days on our Instagram stories where Lauren, the girl that works for me, will try stuff on on an Instagram Live, and we allow people to request things so we'll have customers that will message us on Monday like, ‘Hey, there's these two or three things on your website that we really want to see what they look like tried on in a live video,’ and so we make sure to incorporate them. [Another tip is] I know a lot of people sometimes get caught up in paying attention to what other accounts are doing. We don't do that. I think it's really important to just kind of try to beat to your own drum, and if you're shopping to stock your store, pick pieces that you like, because you're going to sell the things you like. I think that it's really hard to sell something that you don't actually like or are passionate about.
Do you have a brick-and-mortar presence?
We are under construction, so we don't have [a brick and mortar location] yet, but we are in the process. We will have one in Stephenville [Texas] in the next six months.
Are you planning to set up at trade show events this year? If so, which ones?
We went to Abilene [Texas] to the ranch rodeo there in May. We did Round Top. We do Round Top both times every year, Spring and Fall, and we did NFR. This Fall we are doing Round Top in October, the marketplace in Warrington, then we will be at NFR. We’re assuming in Vegas at the Rio.
Which products are selling well right now?
I think the daintier stuff is trending. I know the last couple years the really big long pieces were really popular, but lately we’ve seen the shorter necklaces, choker style is coming back. And then people are layering. The last couple years the huge squash blossoms were really popular, and they still are, but we’ve seen more of people buying like four or five smaller, daintier necklaces that are shorter and layering them together.
Are you keeping an eye on any current Western fashion trends?
We kind of do, but again we try to focus more on the classic things that are going to be in style no matter what, but we do follow the trends, just because we do always try to have a small collection of pieces that are going to be very trendy. For those that that's what they want.
What advice would you give to Western businesses in the current market?
Even if you're having a tough time, things are slowly getting back to normal and slowly getting better. I would say that for those that are struggling, if they don't have an online presence, I think this is a great time to consider doing something, even if it's on the small scale. Our website, we've got a ton of inventory on it, but you don't necessarily have to have a ton of inventory on your website. Even just a few pieces here or there just to give people the option to shop online [is good]. If you have a storefront, I think the ‘buy online and pick up in store’ thing is something that people like to do as well, because everybody likes something that's mobile-friendly. We've done a lot of that. We don't have our storefront open yet, but we have an office, and we turned on the in-store pickup [option]. We've seen a lot of local people like that option, because they can shop from their phone, and then they can swing by on their way home, and it's something that is quick, easy, that they don't have to worry about designating a specific amount of time to stop in after work, especially if they have kids or something.
Give us your best style tip!
I think the beauty about turquoise jewelry and just jewelry in general is you can kind of wear it however you want. I always tell people that the best thing to do when buying turquoise jewelry, or just jewelry in general, is to buy what you like. If you don't love it, don't buy it, because you're probably not going to wear it. It’s going to sit in your jewelry box. [It’s the same] with clothes too. I always tell people to style things how you like them. I'm not really a trend follower. I put it on, and if I like how it looks, and it makes me feel good that's just that's what I wear. Jewelry always fits. That's the best thing about jewelry is that, besides your ring, one size fits all.
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Photography: (All images) courtesy Mallory Blair