A leading jeweler believes there's been a major shift in the shopping habits of women that can be seen across online, in store and party plan purchases.
'People are pressed for time and they're more deal savvy than ever because it's easy to research what's out there before spending their money," said Maria Nicola, who invented the 10 Way Necklace.
'Online shopping sites are often exited when the shopping cart is full because the buyer has changed their mind by the time they go to fill out their details," said Ms Nicola.
'When it comes to retail stores people are spending a lot less time in their browsing because more often than not they have decided what they want and at what price they're willing to pay before they've walked in the door," she said.
'They're looking online first before going in store on a mission which is why shoppers who once spent two hours browsing are now down to 45 minutes."
'You can also see it at tupperware, lingerie and jewellery parties where people are comfortable to come and have some food and leave without buying anything which was unheard of five years ago,"
'The increase in the cost of living and the wide variety of choice are certainly driving this change in shopping behaviour."
'Value for money is want women want ensuring they can get a number of wears out of an outfit and their accessories."
'It's now common for people to pitch in and buy a group gift that is value for money rather than something that has a short shelf life."
'This change in shopping habits is what led to my idea of a necklace that can be worn ten different ways and it's proving popular."
Maria Nicola said when it comes to fashion and accessories these are what women are looking for –
Value– Women are no longer interested in items that have a short shelf life. They are will to spend a little extra if they know they can wear it for years.
Simplicity– a classic look that won't date. Accessories that can be worn with most if not all of your wardrobe is ideal.
Versatility- items that can be changed and worn for a variety of occasions, to suit many different looks so a busy woman can change her style to suit easily.
Compact - it can be tricky to travel light, so the more you can get in one little suitcase the better. So when pieces can be put away in a small space easily and neatly, it's a girls delight.
Maria Nicola has 22 years experience in the jewellery industry and created the 10 Way Necklace, which can be worn ten different ways as the name suggests. It also has optional extras like the Crystal pendant, matching earrings and crystal tassels to add even more different looks.
Question: What inspired your creation of the 10 Way Necklace?
Maria Nicola: After being in the jewellery industry for 22 years, I noticed a few things about women and how they accessorise - they are busy and want to look good without fuss and they don't want to spend too much time or money in achieving this. So once I discovered magnets as jewellery clasps the 10 Way Necklace took on a life on it's own, and what a ride it's been!
Question: Why do you think impulse buyers have become an endangered species?
Maria Nicola: I've seen some big changes in spending over the last 22 years when it comes to buying accessories. In my first business in bridal jewellery and then a gift shop in Manly, Sydney everything was different. There was no websites, your competition wasn't global, cash was king then - no credit card debt existed. Now the world is your competition, women try things on instore and buy the same item online to get the best price. We've had the GST come in, and I think financially for people things are tighter. So up to four years ago, I saw women making quicker decisions and being spontaneous when choosing something for themselves or a gift. In the last four years I have seen a cautious shift when it comes to spending in many different circles I do business in. I think this is one the main reasons for the 10 Way Necklace's success, value for money - 10 different styles in 1 necklace.
Question: How did you go about the business-side of creating the ten way necklace?
Maria Nicola: This is where things got interesting, my first two businesses were old school, and by that I mean completely offline. After the gift shop in Manly I started my own jewellery party business, six years ago, showing a range in women's homes and events from the suppliers I had met from the shop. I joined a women's networking group which is a must for an entrepreneur - you need support and knowledge when starting out and always! It was fun, overwhelming and exciting all once, I started to meet amazing people, joined more groups and just kept learning and networking. Four years into this I got the idea for the 10 Way Necklace, I then resourced the smarted and most connected people I had met within those four years to make it happen... and it did!
Question: What did you learn from appearing on SharkTank?
Maria Nicola: I learned so many things from SharkTank - what a thrill! I learned that you really need to believe in your product and yourself to even try something like this. It is fine to be nervous, and boy I was, but deep down I knew I had it in me.
I learned and studied my numbers tirelessly which is a miracle for a design oriented person like me. Which was followed by learning the importance of numbers in my business, not just net and gross figures, but ratios of colours I'll sell in one typical day, to form buying habits etc.
I learnt that Channel 10 was wonderful to work with, all the crew took really good care of us and made sure we were properly prepared. There are loads more but those are the key learnings.
Question: What advice do you have for others wanting to feature on SharkTank?
Maria Nicola: If you're going to try to get on SharkTank and you actually get through to the final stage, give it all you have! Be open and honest with your information, there's no use trying to pretend you've done something that you haven't. Most importantly prepare, prepare and then PREPARE some more! I was recording questions to myself on my phone, leaving a space to answer them and then in the recording I'd answer myself! I'd play this all the time especially while driving. Sounds mad I know, but I remembered every answer. (Thanks goodness)
Question: What's next, for your business?
Maria Nicola: For the last year my website has only focused on the 10 Way Necklace range to establish my range in the industry. At the Australia wide events I do I still provide some other stockists on my display for a little variety such as personalised sterling and fashion jewellery. I'd like to get my best sellers from these ranges on the website too, as they are frequently requested.
I've been training sales ladies in every state Australia wide to do more events.
America is also on my horizon, we have just launched on Amazon USA.
Question: Where can we purchase the 10 Way Necklace?
Maria Nicola: www.MariaNicola.com
Question: Can you tell us about the optional extras?
Maria Nicola: There are matching earrings for each colour and two gorgeous optional extras.
Firstly there was the crystal tassel - it adds a completely different look, and at least five more styles.
Then just before the show aired I came up with a Crystal Pendant and wow has that been popular! It adds a little more glamour to a short and longer styles.
Question: What was your biggest business challenge and how have you overcome it?
Maria Nicola: My biggest challenge was finding the right people to help me with my business. Now this takes time, because everybody says I can help you with this and I can help you with that, so where do you put your money? The way I overcame this was to attend networking groups and really listen to what people had to say about other people and the quality of the work they provide. Don't be so quick to say yes to a deal before handing over cash. Get 2 - 3 different opinions, so you can start to understand exactly what is they are promising.
The next thing is don't judge people as to how they look, this takes practice if I'm being honest. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and talk to them when selling or networking.
Interview by Brooke Hunter