By Michelle Graff
Beau Hequin (pictured here) is chief executive officer of his family’s store, Morays Jewelers. Helping him run the business is his former college roommate, Chris Haake, who is the company’s chief operating officer.Miami--Morays Jewelers has been a downtown Miami mainstay since the 1930s, but the family’s involvement in jewelry actually got it start many years before that, thousands of miles away.

Beau Hequin, the seventh generation of his family to run the store, said his family’s foray into the business began in Vienna where one of his ancestors went door to door with a pushcart selling watches in the Austrian capital.

The jewelry business followed the family when they emigrated from Europe to the United States, eventually moving south and opening Morays in Miami in 1939. (The name Morays is actually an anglicization of Murray, the name of one of Hequin’s ancestors involved in starting the business.)

Hequin, who is 26, graduated from Babson College in 2011 and now is taking over the family business. He recently took the time to answer five questions from National Jeweler about being an independent jeweler today.

National Jeweler: So many young people are choosing not to enter the jewelry business. What made you want to take over the family business and keep it going?
Beau Hequin: Honestly it’s in my blood. My family’s been doing this for seven generations and there was never really any question that carrying on that tradition in the jewelry business is what I wanted to do. Since I was a young kid I was always in the store. I started with the broom and next I got the mop and from there they let me sell stuff. I worked my way through it. When I look at a watch and I look at a diamond, I see a little more than something that’s monetary. I see a work of art and something of significance. It’s enjoyable to be able to go to work each day and play with toys, for lack of a better word.  

My biggest issue is every time something good comes in, I want to keep it for myself.

NJ: I understand that you are re-launching the store’s website with an updated e-commerce platform. Why do you sell online?
BH: This generation of consumer does most of their shopping online. If they are not shopping online, they are doing their research online. I have to make both of these available to my customers in the most luxurious way possible, something that represents what my store represents. Before, my website wasn’t an accurate representation (of the store). I think building in a better e-commerce (platform) is going to be good for business, and it’s going to represent us better.

My generation is also big on instant gratification. Everyone loves going on Amazon and there’s sometimes nothing more fun than pressing that “submit order” button and waiting for a box to get to your doorstep. In the next couple of years the e-commerce buyer, I see them as being one of the biggest consumers in the industry across the board in general.

NJ: You mentioned that you didn’t feel that the site’s current e-commerce experience represents your store. Can you elaborate on that?
BH: There wasn’t the time or the commitment or the understanding. All the website stuff was pretty new to my parents. They were used to doing things in a much more traditional way; just to convince them to put up a website was a whole ordeal. They come from a different generation. Once they did that (put up the website), I went off to college and it didn’t get the attention that it needed. It didn’t get the resources that it needed. I feel that it’s worth investing in and it’s worth paying much more attention and focus to than what my parents were willing to give.

NJ: Where will you concentrate your marketing efforts this holiday season?
BH: First of all, I’ve undergone a huge rebranding of the store. We’ve got a new logo, we are working on a new website and we’ve developed some beautiful house ads that have all had some great reactions. These are all geared with the modern, luxurious image, a little sexual. It’s aimed at bringing an emotional response to my store, which I feel it lost a little bit.

We’ve been working on digital advertising a lot. As I mentioned before it ties into the whole e-commerce effect. And with the big influx of wealthy Europeans and South Americans moving to the Brickell area (the section of Miami the store is moving to), I am trying to get my advertising (geared) toward that consumer. (Advertisements) in Spanish, digital advertising and advertisements in top publications for that area--Ocean Drive, Cultured Magazine, Brickell Magazine, Key Biscayne MagazineMiami Herald, Modern Luxury.

NJ: Tell us one thing about you that people would be surprised to learn.
BH: My mom was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer about three weeks ago. It went into her liver and into her spine. It’s become to the point where it’s incurable. This is a disease that’s become close to my heart. I’ve begun working with some charities and associations on events and I am running a promotion in my store this month, being that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are tying pink ribbons to certain jewelry pieces and proceeds from those purchases will go toward charities for the cause of breast cancer.

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