Figure skating and jewelry have a lot in common. They can both be elegant, breathtaking and shining. For Darlene Martin, she believes that her premiere line of jewelry, The Shine Collection, brings out those qualities. While she may not take inspiration directly from her previous career as a figure skating coach, this mother and entrepreneur is trying to balance creativity and brand success, which can be as difficult as landing a quad combo.
Martin left her 17 year career as a figure skating coach to found her own line of jewelry, and have flexibility to spend more time with her family. She received some advice from Arlene Dickinson (of CBC’s Dragons’ Den), who told her to focus on one thing 100%. Martin enrolled at the Queen’s School of Business Executive Development Centre, which she describes as a pivotal experience. Her time in school made her focus on launching her signature line and The Shine Collection.
The line itself is comprised of Japanese and Czech glass, sterling silver, Swarovski crystals, and semi-precious stones. But Martin’s attention to quality and lust for high-end materials is present in the pieces. “It took me over six months to source the semi-precious components of the collection. It took me that long to find the quality that I was after,” says Martin.
The Shine Collection consists of eight necklaces, eight bracelets, and eight pairs of earrings will soon be added to the lineup. The number eight is significant in figure skating and present in her designs as well, since a few of her necklaces feature eight strands of beads. Martin adds, “Figure skating is all about presentation and intricacy and layering of elements and I think that that’s in my jewelry.”
Presentation is an important aspect of her brand, and customer service is as important as well. Soon to be launched, the gifting section on the online shop will provide customers with gift suggestions, gift wrapping, and note card services. Martin’s goal is to make shopping on her site similar to the experience in a luxury department store. There will even be a service to prompt a customer to buy a gift for that special someone before a birthday or anniversary comes up. This service is appropriate considering Martin’s main clients are men buying gifts.
But when you buy a gift for someone this Valentine’s Day, a gift will be given to charity as well. Darlene Martin will be donating 10 per cent of the proceeds to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. Martin says that giving back is important to her personally, and to her brand. She is working on teaming up with a few other charities in the future as well.
Fashion might be focused on the future, but Martin believes her products are timeless, “Although my jewelry will be considered fashion, I don’t ever think it will be considered fashion forward. It will maintain an organic but deliberate elegance to it. It will never be trendy.”
Right now, Martin is focusing on creating brand awareness, in order to continue establishing her line as an iconic luxury brand.
Martin adds, “When you work for yourself, or you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you tend to work very long hours. And it is difficult to juggle family and work, I think for anybody. But you take on these kinds of projects with the thought that it will eventually get to the point where you’re providing for your family and doing something you love.”