Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Joel Klein and I am the founder and CEO of Ritani.com. At Ritani, we specialize in diamonds, engagement rings, wedding bands, and fine jewelry. We are proud to handcraft our engagement rings in our New York factory. Our customers include men and women that mostly range in their late 20s to 50s.
A majority of our customers are shopping for an engagement ring for the first time, while some of our other customers are upgrading their engagement rings to a larger diamond for their anniversary. At Ritani, we strive to give our customers an educational experience and guide them along the way so they can choose the right diamond and setting for their budget.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My family has been in the diamond industry for as long as I can remember. I grew up and worked in a family business that has become one of the largest diamond wholesalers in the world.
Take risks, but also listen to your gut. You’ll never know if you never try!
I noticed how so much of shopping had moved online, and decided it would be wise to expand engagement ring shopping to the internet as well. I also wanted to create a shopping environment that was transparent, honest, and customer-focused, and thus Ritani.com was born.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
It was challenging to find the right team to hire - after all, you’re trusting your brand in the hands of these employees - and it took a few months to finalize our full staff. I really wanted to make sure our diamond setters, polishers & more were exceptional to create a beautiful product.
Creating an engagement ring is truly an art. First, our designers create a concept sketch.
Then, a wax mold of the ring would be hand-sculpted to create a metal cast of the ring.
Once the ring is cast, the diamonds are set and the ring is inspected for quality.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The first thing I had to do was find a factory that was both secure, spacious, and efficient for making rings. It had to be close enough to NYC’s Diamond District so that we could easily get access to diamonds. I also had to secure relationships with diamond vendors, who are mostly overseas, and figure out where to source our precious metals. I was lucky to grow up in a family of jewelers because I already knew how to look for great vendors.
Our website has come a long way, and our logo, as well as our overall branding, has definitely changed. Below was our original website and logo:
Here is our current website and logo, we moved to a mint color around 2018 that is fresh, fun, and energetic.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our Google ads are crucial in attracting new customers. We are also very focused on maintaining great SEO (Search Engine Optimization - making sure your website is among the top search results in Google). We have a team at Ritani just for SEO. We maintain our SEO rankings in a lot of ways, but using the right keywords, URL structures, and creating fresh, engaging content through articles and blog posts is also important.
Finding new features to attract your customers that your competitors aren’t doing is crucial for your brand. We decided to create a Free In-Store Preview program, which allows people to preview the diamond or engagement ring that they selected on our website, and preview it for free at a jeweler or WeWork location near them. If they love it, they can take it home with them, if not, they simply leave it behind at no cost to them. Buying a diamond or engagement ring online can be intimidating, so we found a way to bypass this, and in a way that no other online jeweler was doing. It really does set us apart and drives customers to choose Ritani over other online jewelers.
Social media is also important to customers. People are very visual. Our Instagram has 50k followers, and we like to post original content as well as photos that customers send us. People love seeing real customers enjoying our product, and it makes our customers feel connected and valued by us. Make sure to use the right hashtags and regularly post new content to get people engaged and following your social media channels.
Email marketing is also important to retain customers. We send out several emails a week detailing our promotions and new products to keep our customers interested and coming back for more.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are blessed to have kept the company afloat during the pandemic. Right now we are mostly working on optimizing our website by making it faster, easier, and by creating new features that will draw customers in. We are continually focusing on SEO to improve our organic rankings.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Having an amazing customer service team really makes a difference. Invest and train for great customer service. When customers are interacting with your customer service team, they are interacting with the brand. Of course, you want them to love your brand and value it over other brands that don’t focus on customer service.
I think it’s also important to be involved in the various teams in your business (marketing, customer service, design, etc.) but to not micromanage. You need to trust the people that you hired are experts in their field and value their insights and opinions. Micromanaging rarely leads to success.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We recently switched to Shopify, and it has been great for us. Before that, we had a proprietary website, and it was more difficult to control and update. It’s easier for all of our employees to update our website - you don’t have to be a developer, and for that reason I highly recommend Shopify.
Make sure you familiarize yourself with Google Analytics. It will really help you analyze your data and what people are viewing on your website, and it goes more in-depth than Shopify’s built-in analytical tools.
For email, we use Drip, which is another great tool. It’s easy to use and connects with Shopify. You can easily segment your customers, so for example, you can send out an email specifically to people who already purchased an engagement ring and offer wedding bands to them.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a good read for anyone in a growing business, regardless of their role. Having a product-focused mindset and being open to a process of constant experimentation and learning is crucial for bringing out innovative new ideas.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Take risks, but also listen to your gut. You’ll never know if you never try!
It’s also important to not be too hard on yourself when you are starting. Remember, huge companies like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft all started in a garage! Just because your company is small and doesn’t have a big, beautiful office doesn’t mean it won’t one day be successful.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We actually don’t have any current openings, but you can follow us on Linkedin to be notified whenever we list a new job.
Where can we go to learn more?
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