Why This Jewelry Designer Opened Shop on the Most Expensive Block in LA

"Creating," says Gorjana Reidel, founder of gorjana, an LA-based jewelry line, "is in her blood." When she launched her eponymous jewelry line in 2004, with her now husband, the two hit the road-- literally putting 50k miles on her car, securing their first 100 stores. The goal was to create and sell beautiful pieces like she saw in luxury department stores, but at much more affordable and approachable price. 

It wasn't so much a strategy, she says but, "the only way we knew how to do something." Which might have something to do with why gorjana was the top-selling jewelry line on Shopbop for seven years. 

Now, she's opened shop on both Abbot Kinney, the retail-mecca of Venice, CA and the West Village in New York City. It's a massive undertaking, and some might call it an even bigger risk in a brick-and-mortar environment that has big-box retailers shivering in fear. But Reidel's not shaking in her boots. She knows this is a major opportunity. We checked in to find out why. 

Why was Abbott Kinney the perfect spot for retail?

Our hometown and flagship store is in Laguna Beach which has a strong artist community and artistic vibe.  Venice has a similar vibe and we felt it was the perfect location.  Abbot Kinney has an eclectic history and I’m so excited to bring our designs there. 

When so many big box brands are shutting down brick-and-mortar locations, how do you make the choice to open up shop?

Being able to create an environment that allows customers to fully immerse themselves in the gorjana brand is very important to us.  The goal for all of our stores is to align the retail space with a lifestyle look and feel.  Our hope is that the stores will welcome and inspire the consumer, making them feel instantly as if they are in our home.

What is gorjana doing differently?

The store is really allows our customers to experience the gorjana brand.  They will be able to shop one of a kind items as well as a full assortment of product. We host weekly events to offer our customers not only fun experiences, but also educational ones. We want the stores to be unique spaces where our customers can really get to know us. 

Does the “retail apocalypse” of 2017 make you nervous? Where do you see the opportunity?

No, retail is not dying, it's evolving, and now more than ever it is important to create relationships with our customers and provide memorable interactions within our store space. This is the direction we see retail going, and we want to be at the forefront of that movement.

"Retail is not dying, it's evolving." 

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What is the most exciting part of your business right now?

Opening our own stores and being able to directly connect to our customers.  We have to opportunity for them to get to know us better, see what we are all about and us also getting know them.  Our power gemstone collection is so much more than just jewelry and we love being able to share that with our customer in a more meaningful way, whether it is through an aura reading or just educating them about gemstones.  The connection is the truly exciting part.

People shop online. But people also need to feel and touch items in person. How does your online business inform your in-person inventory?

We monitor our selling trends closely and make sure our ecommerce top sellers are available in-store but also offer an entire retail exclusive collection for our customers to feel that they’re seeing something fresh and new. These pieces are all one-of-a-kind and appeal to those looking for something truly unique.