Small-Town Approach Appeals to High-Profile Clients
When it comes to the local folks in Chappaqua, NY, Bill and Hillary Clinton are just neighbors. Because the Clintons have supported local businesses since they moved to the Hudson Valley hamlet, it was natural that jeweler Varda Singer, in business for 40 years, would have the chance to become their personal jeweler. But her skills building relationships and being a thoughtful listener and designer keep many clients coming back for generations and no doubt clinched the deal. – EILEEN MCCLELLAND
EXECUTION: EMPHASIZE MEANINGFUL JEWELRY
Bill is a very discriminating jewelry shopper who prefers meaningful, natural looking jewelry to glitzier stuff, Singer says. Shortly after the Clintons‘ first grandchild was born, Bill wanted to buy Hillary a gold link bracelet. Singer had a suggestion. “He was excited about the new grandchild, and it occurred to me that if we added a charm and a picture of the baby to the bracelet that it would be very special. Right then and there he forwarded us a photo of the baby and we made a custom charm for it.”
The bracelet has been visible on the campaign trail, notably when Hillary spoke at the Democratic National Convention in July. It hasn‘t been too tough for Singer to forge a relationship with the Clintons. But she credits the Clintons for that and not necessarily any special talent or trait she lays claim to.
Hillary Clinton with jeweler Varda Singer, owner of ICD Contemporary Jewelry of Chappaqua, NY.
At Christmas, Bill stops by to give local shopkeepers boxes of chocolates and to pose for photos. “With the thousands of people they know,” Singer says, “they take the time to really listen and pay attention.”
RESULTS: IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Singer was invited to a Chappaqua restaurant where she watched Hillary accept the Democratic nomination for president via satellite. That night, Hillary told her, “Varda, we have to add my grandson!” to the charm bracelet. Although Singer has been discreet about her dealings with the Clintons, she decided that the couple’s relationship with local merchants was something worth sharing. “The media is questioning what kind of person she is, and when you get to know her, she is very, very nice, down to earth, authentic,” Singer says. “Through this charm bracelet, we would like to show that she’s not a cold person in any way. She may become the president, but she’s also a wife and a mom and a grandmother.”
DO IT YOURSELF: DO GO THE EXTRA MILE
Singer’s clients cherish their relationship with her store, and she knows three generations of some local families. “They can buy in Manhattan, they can buy online, yet they come to us and the bottom line is it’s about relationships.”
The key to succeeding in business, no matter the customer, is to be professional, but be yourself, whether yo are dealing with high school kids or the former president of the United States. “Our staff has always been very service-oriented,” Singer says.
► Relationships are extremely important. Always follow up with an email when someone visits your store.
Encourage the staff to interact with the customer socially, to go to lunch or dinner and become friends.