Woodbury, NY—Lauren Kulchinsky-Levison (left) of Mayfair Rocks, East Hampton and Woodbury, Long Island, (and their Kristen Farrell store is in New York City in Soho) remembers well the stories of her ancestors buying items in/at home. And they also sold them that way -- her grandmother Shirley’s father was a peddler who sold goods door-to-door while the jewelry store began on Seymour’s side (her dad’s father).
“Back in old days, people shopped in their own living rooms,” said Kulchinsky-Levison. “Now, they are shopping in their living room via the Internet. Historically we went from buying in living rooms to shopping in front of an audience in a retail store. It makes sense to me how a computer screen works today to facilitate purchases. It has brought back privacy while shopping.”
Privacy is paramount at Mayfair Jewelers. “For us, privacy is a true currency, as it is with many jewelers. We believe in the jeweler-client privilege,” says Kulchinsky-Levison. Many of Mayfair’s clients are by-appointment, so they enjoy the additional confidentiality of shopping in private.
The team got to thinking. Kulchinsky-Levison along with brother Justin and father Dan are the family oriented team. Justin and Dan are President and CEO, respectively. “We are a team and my dad is the true visionary here, wanting a private space.” Kulchinsky-Levison ran with the idea, although she credits the true ‘renaissance’ feeling’ of the project to her dad. (More on the traditional Mayfair’s here.)
Interior of Mayfair Jewelers' Woodbury location. The new secret store will be housed in an industrial-style loft and won't look anything like a traditional jewelry store. It also won't be obvious from the outside that it is a jewelry store.
The new project idea is a space that caters to clients one-at-a-time in an atmosphere that appeals just to them. One where you make an appointment and come in and be in familiar surroundings, even though you are not in your own home. “We’ve been working on this concept since February,” says Kulchinsky-Levison.
They wanted a private place for clients to shop for wearable art -- the term that Mayfair’s uses to describe their jewelry. “The term makes people look at the jewelry with a different value; some cannot grasp jewelry as important when it’s worn just for wearing and for fashion.
The new store opens in an undisclosed location (in a 3,000-square-foot, industrial-style loft building near their Woodbury store) in early 2017, and the name will be announced at that time. Private appointment sales will still be the cornerstone of their business. “There’s no difference whether we come to them or they come to us.”
The new space won’t be a traditional store in any sense. “We’re creating a space for our clients,” says Kulchinsky-Levison. “We want it to be a well curated space, customized to our client’s taste and tendencies featuring creature comforts that they love. We want them to be able to step out of the box when buying, since they will feel as if they are buying at home. We want to dazzle their senses. Awaken them. The atmosphere will feature their sounds, their sights, their music.” The new space will also be by-invitation-only.
So what does this arrangement offer a jeweler? “We get to spend more time with our clients,” says Kulchinsky-Levison. “This new store is really a reward for all of us. We will be at our most artistic and we will be showcasing a lifestyle.”
Kulchinsky-Levison offered two scenarios to better explain the concept for the new space:
One: Client Jack comes in on Monday. He loves cufflinks and wine. The store will be stocked with a selection for him to choose from and he’ll feel right at home walking into a place that appeals to him through all his senses. He’ll buy and spend time with his favorite jeweler and walk away having bought what he wants/needs and he’ll look forward to doing it again.
Two: The store hosts jewelry designer/manufacturer Antonini for a special event. It’s a peek inside Sergio Antonini’s imagination. The space is designed for him with his input and his fans and clients who shop at Mayfair come along for the ride. They come in one-by-one to visit, by appointment, and spend time with their favorite jeweler and designer and buy while they are there. She envisions special monthly events incorporating celeb stylists and organic chefs, to name just a few.
Of course, these are only two scenarios of what could be hundreds. Kulchinsky-Levison describes the store as a space that is ever changing, even for the same clients. For clients that appreciate it, they might bring in musicians. Or have a wine tasting. Or a personal stylist. Or a socialite for fashion advice.
She says the space can handle actual engagement parties. “Imagine from the ‘Will you marry me’ to seeing your friends and family walking in to celebrate with you.” There are no limits!" The space will be like a laboratory, she adds. “A space to collaborate, elaborate and liberate. That is the backbone of the concept. Those are the words my family uses to inspire us to reach our goals – a quote from my dad,” she says.
She envisions a connection of people worldwide that interact in the space. A constant conversation between the artist and business people and those who buy the art. A space that’s always changing.
Kulchinsky-Levison has gotten to know her ‘by appointment’ only shoppers quite well and understands their needs and buying patterns. “The commitment to buy is when you make the appointment for personal shopping. A woman makes an appointment – not because she wants to look, because she wants to buy. Likely she won’t need just one piece, likely three or four and some gifts at the same time. The self-purchase is the best purchase.”
The concept is already in the works. The invite clients have already been notified with a special code and card. While she won’t detail any card specifics, she does say, “It’s definitely something they want to flash in their wallet.”
The new project will also have its own private Instagram and social media accounts, as well as a non-traditional website. “We’re working with music video producers to build an interesting website. It will be a different take on how we like to do things.” The site will build in a iChat area where out of country clients can meet with Kulchinsky-Levison in the same online space as well as take advantage 360 degree rotation cameras to bring the space to the customer, even online.
Kulchinsky-Levison sees luxury as her competition, not so much the internet – at least not at this time and at this price point. “For personal shopping, commitment is when you make the appointment. A commitment online is when you hit the buy button.”
The siblings have the right background to get this new space moving, along with their dad. “My brother Justin is known in the business for his work with incredible diamonds and creating special rings,” says Kulchisky-Levison. “People come from all over the world to work with him already, so he is looking forward to creating his special space within this space.”
Dan Kulchinsky, above, during a Centurion roundtable discussion. Below, the talented Kulchinsky siblings (Kristen, Ryan, Lauren, Justin) at Lauren's wedding:
Kulchinsky-Levison’s past show business expertise combines with her wearable-art expertise even more so in this space. “I still have the honor of dressing my actors and rock stars in the best jewels in the world,” she says. “I get to talk to the influencers and influence.” Kulchinsky-Levison has been a tastemaker for the business since 1998 so for her, the sky is truly the limit as to what her family can do together in the new space.
“It will truly be a privilege to open it.”