Lucky for me, I’ve been given the opportunity to talk about marketing on a national platform. Even luckier? People actually read what I write, including the ingenious Jordan Dubin of Dubin’s Fine Jewelry in Houston, Texas. He reached out to me after a column I wrote about long-term goals and I’ve had the honor of working with Jordan on his marketing dreams ever since. Working with the younger half of this fine jewelry dynamic duo has been an absolute joy. Founded almost 40 years ago, Dubin’s Fine Jewelry was started by Lenny Dubin who built this business on old-school values of integrity, trust and respect. This matched today with Jordan’s ingenuity and curiosity have created a powerful team that is simply unstoppable. I look forward to our weekly calls where focus is matched with fun and passion. Today I had the opportunity to slow down during the holiday rush and catch-up with Jordan about his love for all things sparkly.
Why did you decide to join your father in the family business?
After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Sociology, I didn't have a plan. I worked part time at my Dad's jewelry store while job hunting, interviewing, and attending job fairs. After a short time, I realized I was a natural fit for jewelry. I had an interest in design, considered myself creative, have strong communication skills, and a basic understanding of business. Obviously the only thing lacking was an education in gemology and jewelry. With time I became more comfortable and picked up the technical stuff quickly. To this day, I am always looking to learn something new. The day you stop learning is the day you fall behind.
Lenny Dubin (your father) has been designing engagement rings for over 40 years. How did he become a fine jewelry designer? Was his father involved in the business as well?
My grandfather, Sylvan, along with a number of other distant relatives, all worked for the Zales family, dating back sometime around the 60s. My Dad, Lenny, was exposed to that at an early age. In fact, one of his first jobs as a teen was in gift wrapping for a jewelry store. I think that exposure goes a long way. I remember spending some of my childhood days in my Dad's store; attending company holiday parties and see the guys in the shop at work on the bench.
What sets Dubin's apart from any other jewelry store in Houston?
The private and personalized experience we offer our clients is perhaps our strongest suit. Add the fact that nearly everything in our store is customizable, we offer a selection of fine jewelry that is infinite. Customers also have their own visions that we help bring to life, and doing so guiding them every step of the way.
What has been one of your favorite engagement ring projects? Why?
One that comes to mind, was a young man that nearly tripled our traditional buying cycle. Most clients can have an engagement ring in their hands in about one month. This gentleman, took over three months. We probably had six appointments, and at each one, brought someone new up to see what he had picked out. He came by himself, with his Mom, then with Mom and Dad, then with his sister, then with the bride-to-be's sister, and then finally one last time by himself to purchase. At the time, it was tiresome. But looking back, it makes me smile. To see how excited he was and to share in that excitement with those who mattered most to him, well it is just special to be a part of that. That is what it is all about; that is what motives me.
What is a modern heirloom? Why should we care?
Absolutely love the term "modern heirloom..” Today, things get thrown out as soon as they break or a newer, faster version is offered. But to create a piece of fine jewelry, using materials that are billions of years old, forged by artisans, and gifted to commemorate life's most memorable moments is a feeling that simply cannot be outdone. To be a part of that story is what brings me the most joy. Our clients know that these precious gifts are the modern heirlooms that helped write their story.
If you had one word of advice to give a potential engagement ring buyer what would that be? Why?
Trust! Trust your source; trust that you will be getting what is purchased; trust that you are getting the best value; trust that you will be taken care of for years after the initial engagement ring purchase. There are thousands of places selling engagement rings now.
You can check out at Costco with a pack of toilet paper and an engagement ring (how romantic). But good luck talking to an associate who is used to stocking shelves about the difference between platinum and white gold or even the difference between an asscher cut and an emerald cut. In our store we not only set a tone of trust from the beginning, we create a beautiful and relaxing shopping experience. You can also be assured our fine jewelry will always be crafted from the highest quality materials, priced fairly, and that we will always bend over backwards to ensure our customers remain our top priority. In a day where loyalty seems to be irrelevant to most businesses, we reward it.
You mentioned you pride yourself on education. What are some blog posts that people might find helpful?
Education is the key to long term success, and not just financial success, but the kind money can't buy; inner success or a deep feeling of high self worth that allows you to hold your head high. I plan to write more about this in the coming year, but I touch on this in a post around Father's Day.
How has the diamond industry changed in the past 40 years? What has been your greatest success? Your biggest struggle?
I can really only speak on the last thirteen years when I joined my father. He could probably tell a tale or two about the significant shifts over the past four decades! The largest changes come within the last year or so. Ethically sourced and trace-ability are becoming strong topics. We live in a time when we want to know nearly everything about everything we buy.
We know our $3 cup of coffee comes from single origin organic coffee beans in Sumatra. Knowing where your diamond came from should have an answer too. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) just rolled out a diamond origin service earlier this year and I am excited to see how it evolves. My greatest success in the diamond industry is two fold: 1) Education and 2) Collaboration. It’s remarkable how much I've learned over the years and continue to learn. I also appreciate the collaborative energy of our industry which didn’t used to exist. When I first started we had a small handful of suppliers with whom we dealt with exclusively. Today, our tight network has expanded and thus our inventory. We can literally fill any request on any type of diamond.
Perhaps my biggest struggle today is exposure. We're small, micro even, and while that makes us tough to compete with as we are able to work on smaller margins, it also is a bit of a weakness. Being small means having a small marketing and advertising budget. When big players are tossing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars at new business, we have to think of other ways to get our name out there.
What has been your favorite part of working with me? Your least favorite part?
Working with you has been incredibly rewarding. My days used to be consumed by helping customers, selling, and the mundane back of house stuff. I was spending little to no time actually working on my business. Working with Bubblegum and Duct Tape has given my business new life and re-energized my love for it. The creativity and planning you provide is invaluable. But with that, also comes my least favorite part....the accountability. On our calls when we're going through our checklist of items, I hate telling you, "sorry, I didn't get to that". But you keep me honest and is the driving factor behind it all. I continue to force myself to delegate more of the day-to-day items and refocus on the big picture, building my brand.
Would you recommend Bubblegum and Duct Tape to other business owners? Why or why not?
I would absolutely recommend Bubblegum and Duct Tape. You are a fairly small shop and so are we. I like aligning myself with small businesses as much as possible. In a day where disparity between the billionaire businesses and small businesses is widening by the day, it's nice to not only be the small shop still going strong, but to work with another one, helping each other flourish.