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About Retail: A Quiet Storm in Brooklyn
Co-founder of Think PR Reshma Patel wants her newly opened fine and fashion jewelry boutique to be a respite from the chaos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Brooklyn, New York--On a peaceful street in the heart of Williamsburg, where hipster-dom and a serious influx of money butt up against each other, a new jewelry store is sliding into a gap in the Brooklyn retail landscape.
Opened last month, Quiet Storms is the passion project of fashion PR veteran Reshma Patel, a longtime Williamsburg resident who, over the years, found continuously less reason to venture to Manhattan, except when shopping for sophisticated fine and fashion jewelry.
With careful attention to the retail and online experience she provides, Patel has rounded up a thoughtful roster of fashion and fine jewelers for Quiet Storms, including Uncommon Matters, Shihara, Delfina Delettrez, Sophie Bille Brahe and Azlee, a group that has the potential to appeal to the classic Williamsburg waif on a budget as well as her more moneyed and established counterpart.
Patel’s public relations background doesn’t include any jewelry experience; she approached the concept of a jewelry retail endeavor from the point of view of a shopper and connoisseur. “I wanted to build my own brand after helping so many creative visionaries articulate and build their own,” she explained of her industry switch.
National Jeweler spoke with the new retailer about the brick-and-mortar retail landscape in Brooklyn’s hippest, ever-changing neighborhood.
National Jeweler: What is your professional background?
Reshma Patel: I started my career as a publicist. In 2001 I co-founded my own PR agency called Think PR and I ran it for 14 years. We were working predominantly with fashion, hospitality and lifestyle brands. In 2014 I transitioned into more of a consulting partner role, took a few years off and then started to focus on building and creating something new, which is now Quiet Storms.
NJ: Where did your interest in fine and fashion jewelry begin?
RP: I’m Indian so I think jewelry and gold is somewhat in my DNA. I can vividly remember watching my mother put out all of her Indian jewelry, getting ready for events, and I remember looking at it, feeling fascinated by it and accompanying her, whether it was in India or here in New York, to the jewelry store, to her jewelers and being really mesmerized, not only by the pieces but by the process of finding gemstones. I wasn’t doing PR for jewelry designers but I was in the fashion space, and I’m a shopper and an admirer, so I’ve always had an interest in
NJ: What’s the significance behind the name Quiet Storms?
RP: I wanted the store to be a calmer and quieter retail experience than the retail experiences that I felt existed. The name also mirrors what I think of the pieces and designers themselves; they are all doing really interesting, dynamic things and doing them in a sophisticated and refined way. Quiet Storms also alludes to who I think we are as women: we are at times quiet and at times feel like storms. I wake up sometimes and feel soft and vulnerable and then other times feel entirely confident and sometimes edgy.
“I wanted the store to be a calmer and quieter retail experience than the retail experiences that I felt existed.”NJ: Why did you choose Grand Street in Williamsburg for your location?
RP: I’ve lived in Williamsburg since 1999 and I was really excited to create something close to home; I live about nine blocks away from the boutique. It was exciting for me to essentially grow up in Brooklyn and I wanted to offer a different point-of-view in terms of jewelry. We have so many incredible retailers and now I wanted to add to the narrative.
Grand Street seemed like a really interesting place. There’s a lot of movement and traffic on Bedford Avenue but we wanted to create a calm, almost dreamy experience when you walk in off the street, a place of escape. I felt like Grand Street would provide that kind of experience as opposed to opening doors on Bedford, which is generally a little bit noisier as it’s a major thoroughfare.
Grand is also a thoroughfare between the north and the south and there’s a lot of exciting things that are continuing to happen on the south side of Williamsburg. Given that Grand Street feels like a connector between the two areas, I felt it was an ideal place for Quiet Storms to live.
NJ: Tell me about the brands you carry and how you selected them.
RP: First and foremost I’m just really drawn to these designers, to their narratives, their stories and point-of-views, to the pieces that they make, the materials they’re working with, to the finishes, the way that they design and the places that they’re coming from.
Creating another jewelry store in Williamsburg when we already have four or more, even beloved ones with very loyal customer followings, it created a really amazing and interesting challenge because I almost had to start backwards and go outside of Brooklyn to find and connect with the designers who I would want to bring in. I made a list of designers whom I felt really fit this narrative of modern, fine, fashion jewelry that’s unexpected, that’s artful, and then I just started reaching out to them. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to bring them all to the boutique and online.
“[Fine jewelry] is the opposite of fast fashion, which has become kind of a coffee fix.”NJ: Was it important to you to carry both fashion and fine jewelry?
RP: Yes, I think that there’s really interesting and exciting things happening in both spaces so I didn’t want to limit myself in terms of price points on either side of the scale. It was really just looking at designers who I thought would work well together within our site and our space and then, of course, trying to create a good mix of price points so clients who are walking in could feel that this is a place of discovery … and also feel that there were multiple opportunities for them to connect with the jewelry from an accessibility standpoint.
NJ: What’s the approximate retail price range?
RP: Some of our studs are under $100 for 14-karat gold. (Los Angeles-based designer) Kathleen Whitaker--one of my favorites for her beautiful, simple geometric pieces--we sell her 14-karat diamond studs for $40. Then it goes all the way up to a white gold bangle by Lia di Gregorio with these incredible hidden pearls on the inside of the bangle ($6,550 retail).
NJ: Are you targeting a specific demographic?
RP: No, it’s interesting that it’s been such a broad range of people connecting with the jewelry. That’s generally what I was hoping for because I think fine jewelry is something that’s forever. And when you’re working with designers who are sourcing materials responsibly it becomes a responsible purchase; it’s the opposite of fast fashion, which has become kind of a coffee fix.
For some customers, pieces might be seen as investments or purchases made for occasions as opposed to everyday wear (and we’ve had both sets of customers). Regardless, these purchases have inherent value to them because of the materials, so we’re seeing women in their 20s come in and women in their 60s, which is exactly what I was hoping for.
NJ: What was behind your decision to launch e-commerce and a brick-and mortar-location concurrently?
RP: I wanted to do something local in my neighborhood, for Brooklyn and for anyone who comes to Williamsburg. But I also wanted to be able to take this idea of modern fine and fashion jewelry and this curation and have it live outside of Brooklyn. I think of jewelry as art, especially the pieces from the designers that I’m working with. At Quiet Storms I’m trying to create a highly curated environment, whether it’s in the store or online, where people are able to continuously discover these incredible talents from around the world and I felt like that experience could happen both in store and online so it was important for me to have both at the onset of our launch.
(For the store) I worked with a Brooklyn-based architect (named Elizabeth Roberts) whose work is renowned, she’s such a talent, and if you look at her portfolio it’s predominantly residential. That was definitely an intentional decision because I didn’t want to build a retail space through a typical retail lens. It was the same for the site; I worked with a design firm called Studio A-Ha and this was one of their first fashion projects. Again, I think the result is something unexpected.
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