While Secrets Shhh Co-Founder and Managing Director, Jane Meredith, was working in the high end of the diamond industry, she realised that over 90% of women were unable to afford the fine diamond jewellery she was selling, herself included. When a friend in the industry discovered diamond simulants, man-made stones with a sparkle and hardness close to that of natural diamonds, she had the ability to create fine jewellery that was accessible to all women. After some round table discussions, and a bit of brainstorming, Secrets Shhh was born, with the first store opening in Noosa in 2000.
“Bringing life to the brand was challenging, but incredibly exciting. To have the opportunity to develop something from an idea and vision and watch it grow is simply wonderful,” says Jane.
Exploring growth through multiple avenues
Once Secrets was established, the next challenge for the business was growth. The business chose to pursue franchising, which was very successful but also proved to be a learning experience for Jane. Secrets now has nine stores located throughout Australia, including a new e-commerce store, and Jane is now looking at pursuing a company-owned model as well. Jane explains, “It was important to find the right franchisees who hold the same ethos and philosophy. And as we are now on the path of company-owned stores, this has its own set of challenges in terms of finding the right management and team who want to be a part of our vision.”
The company aims to open 100 new stores by 2025. It has also had to adapt to the recent changes in technology, which meant launching an online store to provide a new avenue for customers to browse and shop the Secrets range. And Jane says that social media is also playing a larger role in the way the company operates.
“Understanding what customers are engaged with on social media assists with driving traffic to our e-commerce site and connecting them to our retail stores and the overall Secrets experience,” she explains.
One big Secrets family
Jane says that it was important to create a culture that was unique to the business. She wants employees to feel supported and valued, and to be given the same level of care that the business provides to its customers.
“Our ethos and philosophy is the first part of training provided to all staff members. We have a very open relationship with our stores and support office; we are like one big Secrets family. Secrets support office is in contact with our stores on a daily basis. Each week our stores have a catch up conference call to connect, reflect and reward.”
Secrets has also recently implemented an incentive program that rewards retail team members when budgets and sales targets are met. And the company provides rewards to celebrate events, birthdays and life’s most memorable moments with the team.
Creating a win–win situation for suppliers and stakeholders
Secrets chooses suppliers and stakeholders that share the company’s ethos of service, product integrity and customer care. And Jane explains that collaborations have been a great way for Secrets to grow. For example, a recent collaboration with Viktoria Novak has led to the creation of the company’s very first headpiece, which will allow Secrets to expand into the Spring Racing fashion and bridal markets.
“As an Australian-owned brand it was also important for us to find a designer here in Australia. Since the collaboration we have been able to reach and introduce Secrets to women in Australia that may not have heard of our story before and also offer our customers something new and exciting,” Jane says.
Working together has had a flow-on effect for the two brands. Both Secrets and Viktoria Novak have established new relationships within the accessories industry since the collaboration.
Remaining customer focused
The company will continue to bring new and exciting product ranges to its customers as Secrets grows and expands. There are also plans to improve service through a new integrated inventory and POS system, a new and improved website and a loyalty offering to the brand’s valued customers. Jane explains that the business remains customer focused and has never lost sight of the original goal to allow all women to enjoy the experience of owning fine jewellery.
“At the end of the day it is all about the customer. We want to ensure our customers feel valued and enjoy the Secrets experience and product. We want all of our customers to feel confident with an attainable fine jewellery experience whether they’re celebrating an engagement, wedding, anniversary, birthday or just because they can.”