Ideas to Steal From a Very Smart Marketer

I’m always looking for a good marketing story, which led me into a great ‘email’ discussion with one of my newsletter subscribers Kirsten O’Brien, co-owner of TORY & KO. Jewellers I thought you’d be interested in the ‘conversation’ we had.

Kirstin: As a boutique, luxury jeweller that creates bespoke pieces for customers we were always very much a “word of mouth” business.

When we opened up our second store in the Old Bank Arcade we wanted to do more than just have a traditional retail outlet. So we explored some other ideas – we wanted to be noticed for our innovation and unique designs as well as our reputation within Wellington and the world stage. We just couldn’t sit and wait for customers to come to us, we explored ways to get our brand outside our little shop.

Debbie: What are your distribution channels?

Kirstin: We began our journey utilising distribution channels around NZ to showcase our brand new Charm Collection. By the end of the first year we had our TORY & KO. Charm Collection in Smith & Caugheys, Te Papa Wellington, Hanne Anderson Jewellery, NZ Academy of Fine Arts, Ora Gallery, Goddess Queenstown.

We created a brand new collection for Te Papa to launch for Matariki – named “Stella by TORY & KO.”  (named after my daughter Stella). 

NB: Now that our brand is more established we have decided to focus on selling from our two boutiques and on-line from our glamorous website!

We did all manner of events and worked on brand alliances.

Debbie: Can you list a few please


  • ADORN Breakfast 2010 – Collaboration with three Wellington women jewellers where we invited 100 ladies to breakfast at Te Papa Icon Restaurant and had Dame Kate Harcourt comparing a jewellery runway show.
  • Artworks NZ 2011 Auckland . TORY & KO.  were guest Jewellers and  showcased our collections within the beautiful St Matthew-in-the-City Church on the final night of the ARTWORKS Exhibition. 
  • Wedding Shows and NZ Jewellery Show 2010 – 2013
  • Zip Me Up Fashion Show 2012 – Collaboration with a Fashion business in Christchurch and Jeff Gray BMW
  • Logan Brown Restaurant & Bar Pearl or Diamond Champagne Annual Promotion
  • WETA Workshop – pop up shopping day for Lord of the Rings Special FX staff (we took our store to WETA for the day!)
  • Roxy Cinema Great Gatsby Charity Event – We had a jewellery display for their upstairs parlour, Evangeline Lilly wearing our jewellery and we turned up in 1920’s Great Gatsby outfits, rubbed shoulders with film stars and sold out of our crystal bracelets to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Wellington – FUN NIGHT!!
  • Women in Business 2014 – Guest speakers at Crowe Horwath Annual Breakfast
  • 2015 – NZ Financial Markets Association NeoNatal Trust Charity dinner
  • 2015 – Achilles NZ Charity Dinner aligning with Cigna and Logan Brown

Through our contacts we have had some wonderful opportunities to showcase our jewellery: Victoria has created Jewellery for the BAFTA’s & the Oscar Red Carpets, Movies stars like Evangeline Lilly (from Lost & the Hobbit) and most recently for a film starring Rachel Weiss & Michael Fassbender.

Debbie: How did you get your contacts whom I’m assuming are celebrities to get you connected like this?

Kirstin: We have numerous contacts from stylists to people who were attending the BAFTAS and OSCARS, and sometimes we just get called up to create jewellery for movies by the wardrobe team because they have heard of us!

Another interesting event we got involved with was the Genée International Ballet Competition (being an old Ballet girl I couldn’t resist the chance to be involved somehow!) What we ended up doing was something quite extreme: Victoria designed and created a beautiful Tiara for the audience award winner. It featured sapphires, topaz, moonstones and a Freshwater Pearl drop centre piece surrounded by two beautiful swans (and a matching pair of Black Diamond Swan Cufflinks and we were lucky enough to present the piece on stage at the Final awards Ceremony at the St James Theatre.

Debbie: Who paid for this?

Kirstin: We paid for the creating of the tiara but we were given a private function at our upstairs showroom with ballet royalty from UK attending to launch the Tiara! – watch the funny video I made!

We met with ballet royalty from London and I was like a little teenager when I met with Li Cunxin (the true story of Mao’s Last Dancer) backstage on the night.

Debbie: Can you quantify any return on investment of your time or specific sales you made?

Kirstin: We actually got a request from this to create another tiara featuring pink and white diamonds and detachable pieces which became earrings and a pendant – absolutely stunning! Luke Ritner, CEO of Royal Academy of Dancing also bought some of our jewellery for their Artistic Director Lynn Wallis – so a very good ROI on this event.

We have been fortunate to have a long standing relationship with Steve at Logan Brown Restaurant. Every year we run a Champagne and Diamond or Pearl promo which is a lovely treat for the Logan Brown customers but also a great intro to our business. We have presented pearl & diamond rings, diamond necklaces and strands of pearls to many excited winners each year. We find it a great way of introducing our brand to new people, some of whom have a become incredibly loyal customers who we see year after year and have been lovely enough to recommend us to their family and friends.

Debbie: Again can you quantify the logan brown roi?

Kirstin: We get to meet some new customers through this and from a brand marketing perspective it definitely has a tangible ROI from allowing new customers through our doors, some of whom want to have jewellery created from their pearls and/or graduation/anniversary/birthday/engagement presents – often their dining experience at Logan Brown was a celebratory one!

Debbie: Any other events or different marketing campaigns you did?

Kirstin: Another thing we do a lot of work with is in the Charity area. It’s great being able to collaborate with our customers and business partners but one of things we feel really strongly about is giving back to the community – especially to children ( as we are mums ourselves).
We have been working with Ronald McDonald House over the past year. Once again, this occurred from a small request that we decided to turn into something that would make a difference. We were asked to create a display of our Jewellery at the Roxy Cinema for their Great Gatsby Charity Ball. We could have just popped our Jewellery in the case and gone along to the party… But Victoria & I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to help raise money for the beneficiary Charity and make our presence worthwhile. So in 4 days we made up some little crystal bracelets, got some branded ribbon and took our mobile eftpos to the party with the intention of giving 100% of the sale of each bracelet to Ronald McDonald House. We had a great night selling bracelets, rubbing shoulders with Hobbits & other movie stars and partying like it was 1920. We managed to raise the same amount for Ronald McDonald House as the Event itself – just by working the room with our little bag of sparkles! Raising money for such a great cause was a lot of fun.

As well as this charity we have also contributed to the Neo-Natal Trust’s Charity Auctions with pearl bracelets and pearl charms and this year we donated a pair of the earrings which Kate Middleton made famous! to their Annual Charity Dinner in Auckland. We are about to assist Achilles Wellington in their Gala Fundraising dinner to send two disabled athletes to run the New York Marathon by running a “Pearl and Champagne” promotion with Logan Brown who are one of the caterers.

We have also been actively involved with the Women’s Refuge NZ over the past 3 years where we co-ordinate the collection of new presents for the children who find themselves in a refuge at Xmas time – each year we have given over 200 presents to the refuges nationwide which hopefully puts a few smiles on some not-so-happy faces!