The New Designer Gallery will also make its comeback.
The Vault Nantucket Is Popping Up in Boston with a Private Atelier
The seasonal fine jewelry seller is bringing its creative solutions to selling during a pandemic to the mainland.
Boston—The Vault Nantucket has set its sights further afield than the island famed for summer holidaying.
Last week, the seasonal fine jewelry store, which launched three years ago at Nantucket’s Hotel Pippa, held its first mainland event in Weston, Massachusetts, offering shoppers an outdoor, COVID-19-appropriate shopping soirée with a smattering of jewels plus apparel and accessory brand Frances Valentine’s fall collection.
Now, with a private atelier in Boston, The Vault Nantucket will be a big city regular.
The nimble retailer is the brainchild of designer Katherine Jetter. The Australian designer launched her eponymous label in 2008 at the Couture jewelry trade show.
Jetter, a self-described “gem geek,” was drawn to jewelry because of a fascination with gemstones.
Living in the U.S., she summered in Nantucket for years before opening The Vault.
“There aren’t that many places that are so seasonal. Nantucket happens to be busy when a lot of my stockists aren’t actually,” she explained.
So, in an environment of beach-inspired tourist jewelry—gold sea shells earrings and Nantucket basket pendants—she decided to create the jewelry store of her dreams, selling contemporary fine jewelry with distinct points-of-view from her own line and from fellow Couture designers like Stephen Wester, Jade Trau, Melissa Kaye, Todd Reed, Victor Velyan and Buddha Mama, among others.
“I didn’t know if people would be receptive to important Couture jewelry but my opinion was, I’ll go all out and do it how I’d want to in a dream world and we’ll see what everybody thinks.”
“Just giggles and happiness from jewelry aficionados when they walked into the store…The Vault developed a reputation. I never compromised on the selection and showing excellence to true jewelry collectors who are beside themselves with excitement.”
A year and a half ago, Jetter started spending her entire year in Massachusetts when she moved from New Mexico to Boston.
With the opening of her private atelier, she’s able to bring a taste of The Vault to Boston in the colder months.
“I love what I’ve created with The Vault in Nantucket,” she said. “It’s an extension of who I am and wherever I am, The Vault is essentially with me. I want to allow people on the mainland in the off season to have access to the experience as well.”
“My dream was to be carried in
Collaboration is huge to The Vault’s ethos, and the Boston atelier provides ample opportunity for that.
Jetter will host private selling events for her line and the designers she stocks and be able to meet clients by-appointment at the modern, all-glass space that boasts an outdoor terrace.
She’ll also partner up with various brands in the fashion, beauty and wellness space.
An event slated for December, for example, with Hoorsenbuhs jewelry, will also feature facials from upscale skincare line La Prairie.
The atelier also allows plenty of flexibility when it comes to creating a safe shopping environment during COVID-19.
She can schedule intimate events that allow for distancing while helping Jetter “establish a base in Boston.”
Jetter has demonstrated her ability to offer “thoughtful, high-end shopping experiences” in challenging circumstances.
Normally opening The Vault Nantucket on Memorial Day Weekend, this year, per local government pandemic regulations, she found out she was able to open only a week prior to the big day in mid-June, and only for curbside pick-up and delivery, decidedly not conducive to selling fine jewelry.
“The challenge this year was normally I have a month to prepare,” Jetter said, explaining she sources designs at the Couture show, which had been cancelled.
But Jetter got creative.
While many local stores were boarded up, Jetter decorated her storefront with huge flower garlands. People Instagrammed and spread the word that The Vault was open.
She scrambled for her inventory and created a new way of showing pieces to established clients.
On a video call, she’d guide them through the store, just like she normally would. Selecting about five or six pieces to try on, she sent them to the client via white glove service, insured, for them to try on.
“We promoted that a lot in June and people took me up on it. Some of my older clients who I never thought would be able to work FaceTime were on Instagram Lives and on FaceTime with me and we actually had some really nice business from that.”
“I took the attitude of staying positive and making sure we thrived through this environment. Not everyone had the same morale.” — Katherine Jetter
Jetter adapted to the changing phases of reopening.
When small outdoor gatherings were allowed, she held small shopping events on a private yacht, which allowed her to both meet regulations and provide a secure environment for her jewelry.
Small groups of friends came at designated times. It was the first time they had seen friends in person, or gotten dressed up, in months.
A lot of local retailers didn’t see the pandemic as a call to action in the way Jetter did.
“I took the attitude of staying positive and making sure we thrived through this environment,” she explained. “Not everyone had the same morale.”
To help out, she organized a block party at her house, inviting the boutique owners she knew to set up clothing in her yard for a COVID-friendly shopping event.
She made it kid-friendly too, asking them to bring their dogs for a “puppy parade” and offering dog collar and clothing from a vendor friend. It solved a couple of pain points—getting retailers in front of customers during the pandemic and encouraging overwhelmed parents whose kids weren’t at camp an easy way to shop.
Jetter didn’t take any profits.
“It was just to create a sense of community.”
By the end of the summer, people were shopping in-store in masks, and rather than ending after Labor Day Weekend, people stayed on in Nantucket, and Jetter stayed open through September. Jetter was rightfully exhausted by her new career as event planner.
“It’s a lot easier to have people show up at the store and serve Champagne and do a trunk show,” she laughed. “It was a lot of work, but it was worth it, and it was good for business.
“I feel jewelry was a very happy outlet for people to treat themselves or celebrate a birthday, graduation or engagement when they couldn’t throw a party. In the end, it was very successful, so I’m grateful.”
The whirlwind summer didn’t stop Jetter from setting her sights on Boston, however.
“I love what I do,” she explained. “I was 24 when I started my line. I’d traveled all over the U.S. and Europe and China showcasing my work and knocking down doors to be represented in different jewelry stores and I’ve seen a lot of jewelry stores.
“My dream was to be carried in a store that really celebrates jewelry design. I wanted to create that for myself and other jewelry designers to be in a place that really celebrates the work. The Vault is a celebration of jewelry design.”
Jetter said it was easier for her to adapt to new ways of selling than a traditional jewelry store because her goal has been to provide the antithesis of a traditional experiment.
“I’m seeing more customer awareness in wanting to keep their favorite store and boutiques in business so we can all be here next year.” — Katherine Jetter
When clients visit The Vault, she walks them through collections, teaching them about gemstones, jewelry making and the designers behind the jewels.
“I want to make jewelry approachable and real and easy to learn about—not an intimidating environment. If I’m shopping myself, I want to enjoy the experience of choosing art instead of an intimidating stuffy store where you’re afraid to try things on and ask for pricing. That’s never how I wanted to operate.”
Luckily, Jetter is right on the pulse of what consumers want, in a moment where authenticity is everything and customers are engaged in supporting the small businesses that matter to them.
“I’m seeing more customer awareness in wanting to keep their favorite store and boutiques in business so we can all be here next year.”
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