Flashing a smile: Nina Gordon on making relationships instead of a brand

  • In association with Westpac
  • July 21, 2016
  • Sarah Dunn
Flashing a smile: Nina Gordon on making relationships instead of a brand

Nina “Flash” Gordon is the jeweller and businesswoman behind Flash Jewellery.

Now based in Melbourne, 27-year-old Gordon hails from Nelson. She founded Flash in Wellington during 2013. Her ambition is to grow the business into a well-known, premium brand across New Zealand and Australia while keeping the price point accessible.

“I just want to create amazing jewellery,” Gordon says.

She is assisted at Flash by an intern and her partner, who handles the graphic design work. A good friend does the accounting, and everything else is Gordon’s responsibility. She was initially drawn to the metalworking side of jewellery, but loves the challenge of retail.

Her pieces are sold direct to customers through the Flash Jewellery website, and through around 17 wholesale partners in New Zealand and Australia. Gordon moved to Melbourne a year ago to grow the Australian side of the business. Being physically present in the market has helped, she says.

“We’ve been in the New Zealand market for quite a while, it was time to do something drastic.”

This year, Gordon has some big changes planned, having hired a PR company in Australia and started moving to a new and larger studio. She says she’s been spending more time thinking about Flash Jewellery’s strategy: “Instead of being immersed in the business, we’re actually growing the business”.

There’s also a new business plan in the mix. Asked what her number one piece of advice for a young retailer seeking to follow her entrepreneurial career path would be, Gordon says she recommends writing a business plan early.

“The business was growing so organically and going amazingly, so I put it off for too long.”

The subsequent efficiency boost has left Gordon wishing she’d knuckled down and written the plan sooner.

It’s important to the success of Flash Jewellery that its voice is “relatable” and uses the same youthful, casually welcoming language as its customers, Gordon says. Her own personality feeds into this: “I get lots of customers off the back of having random conversations and being personable.”

“I think, ‘Make relationships, instead of making a brand.’”

Gordon says she learned a lot about relating to customers in an authentic way while working in Wellington for Flight Coffee. Flight has a great reputation, Gordon says: “Everyone goes instantly, ‘Oh, they’re awesome!’” Most of her coworkers there were also in their twenties, but Gordon says high-quality retail connections aren’t necessarily limited to the very young or those running small businesses.

“Instead of work, looking at it like a business partnership, look at it like a relationship.”

This approach is not a universally applicable rule, Gordon admits, but it is well-suited for her field: “If you’re selling IT, that might not be the way to go, but jewellery is about emotion.”

This story originally appeared in NZRetail magazine issue 744 June / July 2016. It was sponsored by Westpac.

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