Nestling between the City of London financial district and the somewhat funkier Borough of Camden, Hatton Gardens is the epicenter of Britain’s Jewellery and diamond trade. As such it’s home to dozens of retailers, trading houses, and a network of tunnels and private vaults where priceless gems are kept squirreled away on behalf of their anxious owners.
One of the newest arrivals on the Hatton Garden block is A Jewellery, the bricks and mortar manifestation of a £15 million turnover business that has carved out a niche selling watches to celebrities from music and sport. Nothing unusual there, you might think. Hatton Gardens jewelers are not unaccustomed to servicing a wealthy customer base. But as founder Abtin Abbasi explains, his newly opened store is just the cherry on the cake. Most of his company’s turnover has been generated through Instagram marketing.
“The store accounts for about 10-20- percent of what we sell,” he says. “Most of our business comes from Instagram.”
So when I spoke to Abbasi earlier this week, I was keen to find out how he has used Instagram to generate significant sales and attract a customer base that includes footballers, rappers, and boxers.
Abbasi moved, with his parents, from Iran to the UK when he was just a young boy. Having left school early, he began selling trainers from the boot of his car – a trading environment a million miles away from his new Hatton Gardens base. His pivot to jewelry trading began when he bought a Breitling watch for around £1,000 and sold it for £1,700. Next up was a Rolex, bought for £1,000 and sold for £1,600.
“A Jewellers started out as trading business – gold and watches,” he says. “Then I began to build a retail business.”
Instagram was the catalyst – allowing him to reach an audience of potential customers that wouldn’t otherwise have been available.
Which begs a question. How do you find an audience on a platform which is being used by millions of others seeking to promote themselves, their products, or their businesses? How do you rise above the noise?
Cards On The Table
Abbasi says creativity is the key – combined with a willingness to put your financial cards on the table.
“We always used really good, creative pictures,” he says. “What we were putting up was similar to the quality of pictures used on say, watch blogs. But we were on Instagram and were also putting prices on everything. Nobody else was doing that.”
As the business gained traction, a few celebrities began to take notice of what was on offer. Some became customers. “We started doing promotional deals with people – celebrities, footballers – who had large followings.”
By now the business has evolved. A Jewellery still buys and sells watches, but it also designs its own jewel-encrusted pieces, which are also marketed online. Abbasi himself comes up with the concepts which are then realized by a CAD design team and watchmakers.
This has given the business its own demographic – one defined by music stars, such as AJ Tracy, Aitch, Krept, and Young Adz. and top flight footballers Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard.
Enhanced Word Of Mouth
That has, in turn, led to more promotional opportunities but also to a kind of enhanced word of mouth within the target community. As Abbasi notes proudly A Jewellers has been namechecked in songs by British rappers and grime stars, adding to the allure.
So what is Abbasi’s advice for those who want to use Instagram to drive sales? “You’ve got to be different,” he says. “There has to be a reason for people to follow you. So you create hype and you go viral.”
Again, he cites the need for creative pictures, but this, he says should be coupled with an awareness that you are also selling a lifestyle that potential buyers aspire to.
More fundamentally – you probably need to understand your audience and tap into a very specific zeitgeist.
And for Abbasi, Instagram has provided a ticket into a world that would otherwise have been difficult to access. “This is a very scary business. I begged people to let me work for them but people don’t want to help you.” Instagram enabled him to do it for himself. The next stage, he says, is a jewelry “fashion” show with top DJs to enhance the atmosphere and ultimately more physical stores.