Annie Doresca and Michelle Graff welcome Reggie Johnson and Sheryl Jones for a frank conversation on the state of DEI in fine jewelry.
Marla Aaron’s Vending Machine Finds a New Home
The machine, which dispenses her fine jewelry, debuted earlier this year at the Brooklyn Museum.
New York—Marla Aaron’s fine jewelry vending machine is on the move.
Late last year, the designer launched her ultra-creative retail endeavor, selling a small selection of her sterling silver and gold signature lock jewelry in a customized vending machine at the Brooklyn Museum.
Now, the machine has moved, not terribly far away but to an area with a distinctly different feel.
In late June, it appeared at the location that will be its new home through September, the park outside The William Vale hotel, an independent boutique hotel in Brooklyn’s trendy Williamsburg neighborhood.
“I wanted the next location of our vending machine to be outside,” Aaron explained, noting that the Japanese vending machines that originally inspired her concept are often found out-of-doors.
Aaron feels that such a novel retail concept resonates well with the denizens of Brooklyn.
“If it's interesting and new, whether it be food, fashion or music, it's happening in Brooklyn and The William Vale is at the heart of it,” she said.
Since it opened in 2016, The William Vale has become a major New York City tourist destination, not least for its spectacular rooftop views of the Manhattan skyline.
Perhaps those tourist dollars are the explanation for the machine’s sales so far.
“Interestingly, at the Brooklyn Museum the price point of what we sold was much lower. We mostly sold the silver pieces. Since launching at The William Vale the single most popular piece is the gold ‘Babylock’ on a chain that retails for $644.00. We have sold several,” Aaron said.
The machine sells 12 pieces, focusing on the brand’s most straightforward designs, like the Babylock in five different metals.
The items start at $165 for a sterling silver Babylock on a sterling silver chain. The most expensive piece is the 14-karat yellow gold twisted lock pendant on an oxidized sterling silver chain that sells for $1,588.
Aaron said that like her design process, which started with the concept of a fine jewelry lock and has organically grown to include different jewelry making techniques and styles, her retail strategy takes a learn-as-you-go approach.
“I don’t feel like we are innovating consciously,” she said, “it’s more that we are following an iterative process, tweaking and improving as we go along, zealously and constantly. That's how I view the collection, and I view our retail strategy the same way.”
Aaron is planning to launch more vending machines in the future, but
“We will continue to grow our retail and wholesale business on a parallel path as they are both critical for the long-term success of our company,” Aaron said.
In the meantime, the vending machine will be at The William Vale’s outdoor Vale Park through September.
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