The Jewelers Equality Alliance, Inc. (JEA) is a new organization with the mission of teaching jewelers how to create an inclusive shopping experience for same-sex couples – without alienating a jeweler's long standing heterosexual customers. The JEA will also provide every participating jeweler with certifications, advertising material, and assistance to build relationships with relevant advertising venues that cater to same-sex couples.
"Jewelers provide special help to people while they take that critical first step of declaring unconditionally their love for each other," says Matthew A. Perosi-Doughty, JEA President & CEO. "That first step is a moment of fear, a moment of excitement – a life-changing moment. But it's also a moment of extreme vulnerability, when a person is acknowledging that he or she truly loves someone enough to get married. Same-sex couples carry an extra burden of dread and fear about the initial reaction a jeweler might have when they first reveal themselves to be a member of the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender). Our mission is to help jewelers offer a welcoming environment."
Among the first goals of the new organization is to raise consciousness among jewelers that they need to replace the term "bridal jewelry" with "wedding jewelry" to attract same sex couples. "Today, all wedding jewelry is simply that – and should be marketed as such," says Perosi-Doughty, known to many jewelers as a consultant and educator. He has been assisting jewelers with website development, search engine optimization (SEO), jewelry photography, and other marketing services since 2003. His Totawa, NJ-based company is called Sapphire Collaborative.
The new organization, which has been in the planning stages for a year, will hold its first seminar at the JA NY Show on July 27, 2015 at 2:20 PM. "The timing for this new organization is completely coincidental, yet it couldn't be more perfect with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling that same-sex marriage is an equal right for all Americans," says Perosi-Doughty.
Attracting this new customer demographic into a jewelry store won't be easy. Many LGBT consumers want to shop in inclusive environments where they feel welcomed. And that's a nuanced message to convey – in a jewelry industry that, for generations, has been taught to market a diamond engagement ring for the bride, and wedding bands for the bride and groom.
"Many common jewelry ads and seemingly innocuous questions that sales associates ask are insulting or dismissive to same-sex couples," says Perosi-Doughty. "Our materials will help jewelers change their language and advertising to avoid that."
JEA Materials and Participation
Participation in JEA requires a yearly program fee for retail jewelers, jewelry designers, and manufacturers. The fee includes continuing education to keep jewelers informed of the latest wedding news, issues, and trends that are of importance to same-sex couples.
Training for individual employees and sales associates will be provided via professional development classes and courses. The associated course fees are for individuals only -- they will be issued certificates upon completion of courses. Education will cover topics needed to gain the trust of same-sex couples and turn them into lifetime, repeat clients. It will be delivered through seminars, webinars, and website training. Further information is available on JEAlliance.com.
JEA participant companies, as well as individuals who have completed JEA professional development classes, will be listed on the consumer facing website RingOutForEquality.com. This is where online search traffic will be directed for same-sex couples looking to find an inclusive retail jeweler or jewelry designer.
Other Merchandising and Marketing Support
JEA is also building a photo library of all types of wedding day couples, which will reflect the diversity of races and religions. Clever and imaginative wedding day wardrobe combinations – a passion among many same sex couples – will also be reflected in advertising. JEA will be producing targeted and relevant ads that would otherwise be very expensive for an individual jeweler to create. It will also assist all participating jewelers in identifying and understanding their local media buys related to LGBT advertising potential.
The new organization will also make recommendations to retail jewelers for the most appealing and appropriate jewelry to carry for same sex couples – whose preferences are wide ranging and ever changing. JEA will follow trends and fashions and report the latest that appeal to the LGBT community. In addition, it will research the willingness of jewelry designers and vendors to be included in the ads JEA is creating. Jewelry designers and vendors with personal or religious conflicts about same-sex marriage will not be included in any of the JEA-prepared ads.
JEA will also provide a monthly photography grant to same-sex couples to pay for their wedding photos. The goal of the "Memories Made Here" grant is to provide same-sex couples with a worry-free situation with a wedding photographer. The grant application will be submitted through participating retail jewelers. JEA and the participating retail jewelry store will develop associations with local wedding photographers to fulfill the requirements of the grant.
Jewelers Equality Alliance, Inc. (JEA) is registered as a Not-for-Profit corporation in New Jersey and is filing for status as an IRS recognized Not-For-Profit 501(c)3 tax exempt company. Donations to JEA are not tax deductible at this time, but will be retroactively tax deductible once the 501(c)3 status is approved.
Matthew A Perosi-Doughty, President & CEO
George E Blair IV, Vice President
James A Perosi-Doughty, Treasurer
Board of Directors:
Matthew A Perosi-Doughty, CEO of JEA
George E Blair IV, VP of JEA
James A Perosi-Doughty, Treasurer of JEA
Deborah e. Hecht, G.G., V-By Technology
Peggy Jo Donahue, Donahue & Associates
Rev. Dr. Joyce Phipps, Esq.
Michael Coan, FIT Chair Emeritus
For further information contact:
Matthew Perosi-Doughty, firstname.lastname@example.org