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May 24, 2024

An Exploration in Retail: Single Stone

W
hen Corina Limon Madilian opened Single Stone with her husband, Ari, in 1988, they initially followed the standard wholesale model. Over time however, as we learned in a podcast we recorded last June, Corina’s background in retail coupled with her love for being front facing with clients prompted her to spontaneously open a space in Downtown Los Angeles’ jewelry district. While she admits owning a retail space isn’t for everyone, from Corina’s perspective, having a retail shop (well, two retail shops in her case!) gives her an opportunity to focus on one of her primary considerations in everything she does, building relationships.

Corina also simply loves jewelry, and she loves helping clients find the perfect pieces.

Image courtesy of Single Stone

Corina also simply loves jewelry, and she loves helping clients find the perfect pieces. Offering the work of designers about whom she is passionate allows her to organically advise her clients not only about a particular design or jewelry for a specific occasion, but on the larger goal of building a cohesive jewelry wardrobe.

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE: How long have you been in business?

Corina Limon Madilian: Single Stone was founded in 1988.

COUTURE: When did you open your retail business?

CLM: We opened our multi-brand, brick and mortar fine jewelry store in 2006. We opened our multi-brand, brick and mortar lifestyle store, Serafina, in 2010.

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE: Can you tell us a little more about the store?

CLM: The shops are both located in San Marino (Pasadena adjacent), a suburban neighborhood in the San Gabriel Valley just 15 minutes northeast of downtown Los Angeles. We designed the stores very much like our home, with Farrow & Ball wallpaper, custom wood cases in a casually chic aesthetic.

 

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE: What was the impetus for opening a retail store?

CLM: I have a background in retail and have always loved a personal touch point with clients. Ari prefers the wholesale side of our business, but I missed the interaction with clients.

COUTURE: You carry brands other than your own; what was the motivation for expanding beyond your own DNA within your store?

CLM: I wanted to feature jewelry designers that I love and feel complement our brand. I think it’s important for individuals to build a varied jewelry collection and that can only be accomplished by providing them with a selection of designers to choose from.

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE: How do you select brands for your store?

CLM: We select independent jewelry designers that we feel passionate about. We look at all aspects of the brand, the quality and construction, the message behind the brand, and the lifespan we feel it has. We only want to feature designers and designs that we feel align with our aesthetic and ethos for jewelry collecting.

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE: Do you give designers any kind of special considerations that don’t normally exist within the vendor/merchant paradigm?

CLM: We treat all designers and clients (retail and wholesale) with the same level of respect that we appreciate ourselves. Everyone receives personalized attention. When we welcome a designer into our stores, we hope to establish a long-term relationship with them and grow their brand within our shops. Strong communication is vital to do so, and we strive to work with designers who share this same philosophy.

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE: Does having a retail store influence your creative process in any way? If so, how?

CLM: Our retail store provides an opportunity for us to “test” new designs to see how clients feel about any new item. We do a lot of custom design, and the store allows us to experiment with new styles in a way that helps inform our collection. We would like to say that every item in our collection has been vetted as we have seen a reaction from our retail clients and know how something is loved and appreciated.

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE:What advantages do you feel having a retail store gives you in comparison to brands that do wholesale exclusively?

CLM: There isn’t really an advantage to having a retail store as I don’t believe retail is for everyone. Retail is very hard. We are actively involved in all aspects of our business which includes design and manufacturing, stone sourcing, traveling for trunk shows, buying for our shops, marketing, and the obligatory operational responsibilities that come with being a small business. On top of that, we also need to make ourselves available to retail clients – and while we don’t meet with all our clients, this is a very important part of developing our brand and creating relationships with our community.

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE: What was the biggest lesson you learned when you opened your store? You know, the thing you didn’t know you didn’t know!

CLM: That every month starts with ZERO dollars! No matter how much you prepare your business, retail is fickle.

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE: What is the most rewarding part of having a retail space?

CLM: The relationships we have built with our clients and community by far are the most rewarding! Jewelry is emotional and through it, we have been a part of celebrating milestones and some of life’s most precious moments with our clients. The memories we have created are priceless and will always live in our hearts.

 

Image courtesy of Single Stone

COUTURE: What is the biggest challenge in running a retail space?

CLM: Where do I begin?! Retail is always at the mercy of what is happening in our communities and the world. Every day presents a new challenge which can vary from operational, personnel, security, economic, and trends. You can never fully predict the inevitable. You can only do your best to have systems in place that will help you pivot and navigate the landscape around you as quickly as possible and with the least amount of disruption to your business. You can never just sit back and coast through thinking you’ve made it because you’ll quickly be brought to reality!

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