BaubleBar cofounders Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky have known each other for more than a decade, and they have been best friends for just about as long.
First introduced at analyst job training for UBS, they quickly learned they had the same birthday, so they cohosted a party, in what would become the first of many co-endeavors for the pair. In 2008, they both set off for business school at Harvard, where they would wind up hatching the concept and business of their jewelry retailer BaubleBar after spotting an opportunity during a shoe shopping trip (together, of course).
Less than five years after launching, BaubleBar has 1 million monthly visits to its website and introduces between 50 and 70 new pieces of jewelry to its catalogue every week. They sell inside Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Anthropologie stores. And after careful consideration, the brand opened its first brick-and-mortar location inside a mall in Long Island earlier this summer, with plans to open more soon.
Here’s how Jain and Yacobovsky managed to grow both the online and the brick-and-mortar sides of their business–like they do most things–in tandem.
BaubleBar’s growth has first relied on the strength of its team, cohelmed by Jain and Yacobovsky. As cofounders and co-CEOs, their dynamic can be mystifying. But the key to their success–their ability to identify their complementary skills and stick to their roles–applies to any business, especially when choosing a cofounder or a number two.
“We just have a really natural fit. We know how the other one works. We have really complementary skill sets, which really, really helps,” Yacobovsky says.
The breakdown goes something like this: Yacobovsky handles brand voice and marketing, and Jain–who self-identifies as “OCD”–handles process-driven things like product, operations, and supply chain.
“Both of those combined, I think, are a really good mix of skill sets but also a very natural division of labor, which has been lovely,” says Jain, who calls Yacobovsky “D.” “We joke that the things I like to do D runs away from, and vice versa.”
They met at work, which is another secret to weeding out typical pitfalls of friendship and business, Jain says. Seeing how the other operates under pressure in a professional setting is an advantage often unavailable to other friendships.
“It’s been a great thing for our team,” Jain says. “Just seeing the strength of our relationship and how easy it is for us to chat through any differences in opinions or any sort of differences in views about what we should be doing has been a great thing for the culture of the company because you can feel it. It feels very natural.”
BaubleBar turns its product around exceedingly fast. From the time a trend is spotted on the runway or a fashion blog, an original piece of jewelry can be available for purchase in as little as eight weeks. About 40 people work on the brand’s product team, with 10 of those working directly on design to adapt trends like oversize earrings and fringe into BaubleBar’s repertoire.
The processes behind that super-quick turnaround are what amount to Jain and Yacobovsky’s secret sauce. They’re the products of constant iteration over the past four years, and a combination of traditional trend forecasting from runways and magazines and data-driven trend forecasting from a rich selection of data gleaned from BaubleBar shoppers.
The team started off with an off-the-shelf data software suite, but over time built their own tools to more precisely keep tabs on their customers. Now BaubleBar’s backend comprises a system of intense tagging to draw precise conclusions about shoppers.
“We constantly iterate on this process so that we are faster and smarter and making sure we’re exactly what the customer is looking for through her screen,” Jain says. “We can mine the data down to geographies, age groups, color selects, metals, things like that, to understand what’s really resonating with the customer–what she’s sharing with her friends, what she’s transacting on, and what she has no interest in. We’ve figured out a formula to blend those two data sets to predict what we should be talking about two to three months out from a brand perspective.”
Add those capabilities to BaubleBar’s strong brand voice, which its founders have dubbed its “wink.” The company prides itself on adapting high-fashion jewelry concepts to be accessible and affordable. Jain says the BaubleBar design team “lives and breathes” the brand’s customers, thanks to data-delivered insights.
That self-awareness and efficiency has paid off. This year, they opened their own 52,000-square-foot distribution center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to handle orders and some assembly. Now, Jain and Yacobovsky say BaubleBar transacts more than 1,500 orders per day–more than triple its pace a year ago.