The following is the 14th in the series in which branding expert Melanie Spring takes us along on her three-week road trip across the country to meet innovative entrepreneurs whose experiences offer lessons learned to businesses big and small.
Growing up in a family of artists, Kevin Main's talent not only came naturally to him, but also his ability to excel at in the world of crafts provided an outlet for his dyslexia. And for Main, it couldn't have come at a better time.
"In the '70s, there was a renaissance for handmade products, and I learned how to make silver rings. I borrowed $200 and drove to Los Angeles to buy the silver and the tools to make them," says Main.
Wanting to take his hobby a step further, Main took adult learning classes and got a job as an apprentice in 1973. Sadly, the man he apprenticed with died a few years later but fortunately for Main, he left him to do all of the custom work. As he continued to hone his skills, he remained confident and persistent with his motto "do it until it's perfect" ingrained in his mindset.
Kevin Main and his wife Kathi Image credit: Melanie Spring
Now with over 33 years of business under his belt, Main has established himself as one of top artisan jewelers with his shop Kevin Main Jewelers. Branding was a big part of how he has built his successful jewelry business in San Luis Obispo, Calif. -- a town known for its shop-local mentality.
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Make your brand experience unique. Main's brand goes beyond his unique jewelry pieces – it encompasses the whole experience.
Walking into the open space of Kevin Main Jewelry, you feel like you are in an old-timey bank. With the bright hardwood floors and brick walls providing a great base for the art at hand, you get the feeling you'll find just the right treasure for whatever your needs may be. This ambience was no mistake.
"Jewelry is like branding. What you don't see, you feel," says Main. "You have to ask yourself what makes the thing you choose special."
Focus on the product AND the service. Between their own custom work and being well trained in selling brands like Hearts on Fire, the retailer is focused on quality and taking care of the needs of their customers.
“Listen to your customers and they will tell you how to make them happy," says Main.
Their customers come often to see what’s new and to find pieces for their special someone or themselves. When they enter the shop, they know they will be taken care of, will receive great advice and provided the best deal.
Related: How to Set Your Brand Up For Success
Kevin Main Jewelry store Image credit: Melanie Spring
Be the boss your employees want to follow. As a boss, you have to be generous, driven and focused and Main believes everything comes from the top down.
"As an owner, it’s my job to inspire my employees to live to their fullest potential," Main says.
Those who understand Main’s need for harmony and drive for excellence become a part of their family. Kevin Main Jewelry pays their employees well and incentivizes them to keep products moving, but they're also very clear that taking care of customers is the top priority.
Stop doing what everyone else is doing. "Have you ever seen a Kay Jewelers ad? It's all about the feeling, not the product," says Main. "That’s how we’ve been approaching our marketing, except we’re local and unique.”
When other jewelry stores started buying billboard advertising, he innovated his marketing. Setting up events in the space like with Art After Dark, wine nights and Cinco de Mayo parties, his company stands out from the crowd.
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