All the entries for the 2013 Future of Design Contest are in, and we are working on narrowing it down to our six semi-finalists. It’s going to be tough! We have fantastic entrants this year, all with so many fine qualities and so much potential. Stay tuned – we’ll make our announcement of the semi-finalists on February 4!

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You have three more days to enter the Future of Design Contest. Don’t miss your chance for the 2013 contest! There are significant business benefits for every entrant – whether or not you win!

Every Entrant Enjoys Business Benefits

  • All entrants receive personalized business analysis of their application from some of the top business minds in the jewelry industry.
  • The application itself is designed to be a tremendous teaching and learning tool. Once you complete it, you will have completed all of the preparatory thinking required to develop a sound business plan.
  • Semi-finalists (six of them) receive a tremendous amount of jewelry industry publicity and a ‘dream date’ with one of your top jewelry designers.
  • Finalists present their business vision to a live audience at the 2013 MJSA Expo in New York (travel paid for by FOD).
  • The winner receives the biggest prize package in the jewelry industry – bigger than all the other jewelry industry contests combined!

So don’t wait! Enter now and take advantage of everything The Future of Design Contest has to offer. Your business will thank you!

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Future of Design Contest a Transformative Experience

If you don’t already have the February ’13 edition of the MJSA Journal, make sure you check it out! Shannon Brown wrote a fantastic article on the semi-finalists of the Future of Design Contest 2012, highlighting what they learned from participating and the changes they have made to their businesses as a result of their participation.

You still have 3 days to enter the Future of Design, so don’t wait! We know from all the feedback we receive from current and past participants that this isn’t just a contest . . . it’s a transformative experience. Give your business the gift of transformation! Take advantage of the Future of Design Contest and all it has to offer now.

Quotes from the article Blue Ribbon Ideas

“When you have to spell out who your competition is, it re-frames the question in a sense that they aren’t a threat anymore, but become part of what you’re doing. It forces you to answer questions you’d thought about but were afraid to answer, such as What do you offer that your competitors don’t? What is your market advantage?”
Jennifer Dawes, Dawes Design, FOD 2012 Finalist

“When you’re really evaluating what weaknesses you have, you might find that you are not only good at something, but you don’t want to do it if it’s not one of your strengths. You can train yourself to do all sorts of things. But even if you learn it to the best of your abilities, you still may not want to do it.”
Bree Richey, Bree Richey Designs, FOD 2012 Winner

“Learn how to reveal yourself  to your customers. People want to know who you are. They want to take something away, some understanding of who made the piece. It wasn’t made by a machine, so people want some connection with the person who made it.”
Elizabeth Garvin, Elizabeth Garvin Fine Jewelry, FOD 2012 Finalist

“I had to ask, Am I advertising for my ego or my bottom line? When you look at the bigger picture, I could have spent that money doing something a whole lot more effective.”
Patricia Tschetter, Tschetter Studio, FOD 2012 Semi-Finalist

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Today we received the following email from “Olivia”

$300.00 ???. I guess this contest is only open to a lucky select few. Besides I read your rules…if someone is already making $75,000 a year…and less than close to half a million dollars in sales…then that person is already established and certainly doesn’t need this competition to have their brand visible!  They would just have to hire the best PR company and 3weeks later have their name in all the major fashion publication.

I’m just so disappointed that this whole thing has become a money making machine.

We figure if “Olivia” is thinking this, then perhaps some of you are too. So we wanted to share our personal email response with all of you to help you understand the reasoning.

Dear “Olivia,”

We’re so sorry you feel that way. Businesses need help at many stages; infancy, established-but-needing-significant-direction, $1 mil sales, $5 mil sales, $20 mil sales, etc. There are different resources for each of these levels of business. We designed this contest as a business incubator contest for the established-but-needing-significant-direction level.

Business incubators are rarely available to complete start-ups. If you’ve ever seen the show Shark Tank, that’s a good model. Nobody gets to pitch investors (of money or time) until they have a basic proven concept. That’s the $75,000 threshold (very low for the jewelry industry). Someone in the infancy stage of a business rarely has the kind of capital, resources, or insight to enact the direction and plans that an established and ready-to-take-off businesses are expected to follow with the help of a strategic advisory group – and this is what a business incubator does.

As for money making, well, hardly. This is more a labor of love than a profitable venture. The entry fee is for two purposes: to cover the costs of putting on a competition such as this one, and to ensure that the entrants are well qualified both in terms of intention and resources. It takes so much energy and time for the judges to do the work of this contest that we simply couldn’t afford for unqualified entrants to participate. Furthermore, the application process and full written feedback each participant receive constitute valuable business advice that would cost far more than $300 to receive from a qualified business adviser.

If you want some suggestions about resources for a start-up jewelry business I’ll be happy to provide you with some. If not, hopefully you at least understand the premise of this contest and our reasons for attaching a hefty entry fee to it.


Andrea Hill and Cindy Edelstein
co-founders, Future of Design Contest

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When you think from a jewelry retail perspective, surprising new insights happen

One thing we noticed in judging the applications from the 2012 Future of Design Contest was what a difficult time many designers had trying to analyze their competition. While there may be many reasons for this, the two primary reasons seemed to be that it is so difficult to figure out who one’s competition is, and that few designers think about competition from a jewelry retail perspective.

The easiest concept to latch onto in competition is a designer who offers a look and price-point somewhat similar to one’s own. And while this is true when considering competition from a consumer standpoint, it doesn’t quite hit the mark when considering competition from a retail jeweler’s standpoint.

Competitive Analysis is the recognition that there are limited spots in many experiences: only one person crosses the finish line first, a retailer has only 18” of case space to give to a new designer, a consumer has only $2,500 to spend on a new piece of jewelry. So something gets that spot. In this case, what are you doing to get that spot in the jeweler’s case? Other designers are doing things every day to get that spot – so you have to be aware of what they are doing and you have to  compete for that spot.

If you compare yourself to a designer/design firm with significantly more resources than you have (more designs, more consumer advertising and branding material, greater ability to deliver quickly, more support staff for sales, marketing, and service, etc.), then you will not be doing an accurate comparison. Retail jewelers don’t always know who the designers are, but they are pretty efficient at figuring out what league a supplier plays in.

So when you think about your competition, think beyond the concepts of look and price. Think about what you can provide as a supplier compared to other firms your size. This will help you figure out how to compete for the limited mind-space . . . and case space . . . at retail!

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That’s right – we’re back on again with Future of Design Contest – a business incubator contest designed to wrap industry resources around one deserving designer and help him or her find more market success.

You’ll find all the details here in our website.

Watch this blog space for updates and information from Cindy Edelstein and me (Andrea Hill) – the contest co-founders and happy promoters of designers everywhere!

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