It’s not only the newest, but may be the most engaging and compelling iteration yet of a number of new jewelry sites. Shopbevel takes the crowd-sourcing design idea, and applies it to fashion jewelry. Emerging jewelry designers show their designs on the site, the community votes, and the winning designs get manufactured in a limited run. Everything on the site is unerringly on-trend — and less than $100. I love the fact that it’s an amazing way for independent jewelry designers to get their designs in front of customers.
To really kick things off, Shopbevel ran a New York City Jewelry Design Challenge, with submissions from students from 25 design schools, and judging by Willow Lindley from Refinery29, Lo Bosworth of The Hills fame, and Gorjana Reidel, founder of fashion jewelry powerhouse Gorjana Griffin. The design challenge winners get to have their design produced and sold on Shopbevel, and a feature in Refinery29! You can preorder the winning designs here.
Interview with Shopbevel founder Courtney McColgan
Shopbevel launched in March of 2013, the creation of Courtney McColgan. It is funded by some heavy hitters: Lightbank and Great Oaks, and those behind Warby Parker and Bonobos. Courtney is a Stanford grad with a unique background combination of Wall Street and micro-funding experience. She also has experience working in China, where the designs are produced.
idazzle.com: I think your model of centralizing the very fragmented world of independent jewelry designers is pretty brilliant. You’ve been up and running for a little while now. How are things going?
Thank you very much. Things are going extremely well and we are growing quickly. We just had to move to a new office space in our building to accommodate the growth of our team and we are looking to doubling or tripling our size by the fall!
It seems as though your members are catching on to the concept! What’s the biggest triumph so far?
There have been so many triumphs that it’s really hard to narrow it down. One thing that’s been amazing is seeing the positive response from designers and immediate growth around the world. We are in 38 countries now and growing with every challenge. Greece has been one of our most popular locations for designers and subscribers – which was surprising and exciting.
Wow, very international–that’s fast! There are quite a few potential hurdles with this concept: customer adoption, attracting designers, relationships with manufacturers who will make the jewelry… what has been the biggest challenge so far?
There are definitely some hurdles that we have faced. One of the most interesting has been managing the growth of our challenges and the quick expansion of our designer community with our technology. We have been evolving the site constantly to better accommodate our designers and voters all over the world and make the processes seamless. We have some big plans for the site coming up that will improve our customer and designer experience.
How does it feel to know that you are helping emerging designers get their pieces in front of potential customers?
This is our whole purpose and what we at Shopbevel are passionate about. It’s been absolutely inspiring getting to know these talented independent designers and humbling having them share their designs with us.
Your trajectory has been sort of meteoric the past few months. Do you sleep ?
Haha – barely! The whole team has been extremely busy, but our passion for the company has been driving us forward! It’s been exciting and I find myself waking up in the middle of the night with new ideas to write down.
I can imagine that you dream about new ideas! The winners of the NYC Design Challenge were just announced. How does it feel to have such visibility in both the design school world, and the fashion industry through this challenge?
These partnerships with the schools have been in the works for a while and it’s great to see the challenge progress. Aligning with the design schools allow us to recruit unbelievably talented designers early on as well as stay on top of the trends in the fashion industry. We are announcing the winners on May 20, and we are very proud of the results. Working with our judges for this challenge, Refinery 29, Gorjana and Lo Bosworth, has been a unique experience and something we want to continue to replicate. It has created such excitement with our designers and customers!
What’s next for Shopbevel?
There are so many wonderful things coming up for us and some great partnerships. We are going to be working with celebrities for red carpet and TV placements and hosting challenges with brands to design a piece for their collection as well as nonprofits to bring proceeds to the cause. All exciting stuff!
Thank you, Courtney! I look forward to seeing exciting new fashion jewelry designers have their visions made into reality!