Spring Pham ’21

Original Eve Designs, New York, NY

The past ten weeks at Original Eve Designs has been one of my most pleasurable and rewarding summer experiences. I witnessed the daily ups and downs of what it means to start a company from nothing, in a very niche and traditional industry such as jewelry. My work environment was incredible. My mentor truly taught me about the art of sales and strategy in not only retail but also in apparel, fashion—and most importantly, jewelry. What and how it means to be able to brand a product, conduct its effective outreach, and develop and grow a business stood on the foreground of this summer internship’s overall trajectory. How do you take an industry, such as jewelry, which is heavily steeped in tradition, and push it into the future? That question, along with many others, ultimately formed the foundation of this summer internship’s strategy role.

Launched two years ago with a mention in Vogue UK, Original Eve provides custom-made jewelry and ready-made collection pieces. Original Eve is all about uniqueness through emotional storytelling—founder and CEO, Eve Streicker ’09, sculpts and designs her jewelry based on her travels and of her own personal life. Jewelry extends beyond mere accessory to adorn the body—jewelry becomes a wearable sculpture punctuated with motifs, accentuating authenticity and playing with the natural forms of the human body. Owning a piece of fine jewelry comes with responsibility, so Original Eve aims to educate about jewelry and precious gemstones and practice through its sustainable sourcing.

Eve is also the President-Elect of the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) Metro New York. The organization aims to provide women in the jewelry and watch industries with professional advancement through the provision of educational, leadership development, and networking resources. Original Eve’s involvement with WJA played a big role in my summer experience through several of my projects.

Eve’s company is all about her own story communicated through her jewelry, and the way she runs it, really illuminated the reach that sales strategy can have in this industry. To understand Original Eve Designs, look at its setting. Jewelry is comprised mostly of luxury flagships like Tiffany’s and Cartier and then your mom-and-pop shops, which make up most of the industry.

Eve wants to disrupt this industry and that starts with an emphasis on her female leadership. Start-up environment is hectic. It’s chaotic, and daily nuances are more like daily rollercoasters. Office hours are never the same each day, and an enterprising personality is a must: Adopt a can-do-all personality! But it’s so passionate, and you’re surrounded by people who truly love what they’re doing. And when it comes to getting businesses off the ground, strategy gets highly individualized. Jewelry strategy entails a lot of sales and a lot of figuring out how to connect to a targeted audience. Currently, some of the industry’s biggest struggles include connecting with younger, different generations and recruiting young talent. And that’s of focus because the industry is steeped in tradition but needs change and disruption in order to bring the industry forward. Ways that the industry is addressing those troubles are by education, increased transparency, heightened focus on sustainability, and supporting more women through organizations like WJA. So, as a strategy intern, that was my overarching big-picture frame that helped guide my work, in addition to truly understanding Original Eve’s brand. For the most part, I created and curated creative content for social media platforms (after looking at the individual analytics and figuring out what I should curate) like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest as well as blog posts on OriginalEve.com. I did a lot of market research so that I could better understand Original Eve Designs, the brand, and where it stands in the industry. I then used the qualitative data I acquired to interview key industry leaders and retailers to form strategic decisions and drive profit growth. Most of my daily work involved research and analyses around strategic management.

One of my earliest project was a comparison-shopping analysis (known as a “comp” shop). I spent several days going into luxury retailers and small businesses with a fake scenario and a fake story about buying an engagement ring. My goal was to learn about sales strategy by interviewing countless of sales consultants and learn about brand identities after which I would present my findings. I got to try on so many beautiful rings ranging from $14,000 to $1.2 million dollars. Another exciting (and big!) project Eve and I spearheaded entailed interviewing four female industry leaders for an “Industry Insights” series on her blog on OriginalEve.com. I had the incredible privilege of interviewing a trade lawyer about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Jewelry Guides, the Senior Editor of Gemstones for trade publication National Jeweler, the CEO of trade association Platinum Guild, and Founder and CEO of blog iDazzle.com and fine-jewelry company ANZA Gems. The series examines women in power and how they are disrupting the jewelry industry.

Another one of my most exciting projects this summer involved showcasing Eve’s jewelry at the Jewelers 
of America Designer Preview event, which took place in late July. The event is a cocktail party, held at 
the conclusion of the Jewelers of America National Convention (which took place in New York this 
summer), with the board of Jewelers of America in attendance. Attendees also included retailers, designers, 
businesses, students, and press. I had a lot of fun really testing my knowledge and understanding of 
Eve’s brand as I pitched it to each attendee and/or board member who inquired about her jewelry and 
her operations. Lastly, I was also given incredible opportunities to attend industry events like the Women’s 
Jewelry Association (WJA) Awards for Excellence Gala, where I met incredible leaders in this field.

One formidable lesson that the jewelry industry has taught me is that everything is connected. If technology hits one part of retail, it hits all parts, and that includes jewelry. Global retail trends and their effect on retail supply chains will also be felt within the jewelry industry. Within the gem trade, responsible sourcing traces back to policy and what happens in Congress. It has been fascinating to witness all of these connections. But most importantly, this industry has taught me how important it is to celebrate and encourage female leadership. After interviewing the female leaders for the “Industry Insights” series on women in power and helping Eve run Original Eve Designs, it is so evident how these fearless and visionary women are disrupting the industry and helping it propel forward.

This summer inspired me so much, and has instilled in me, a genuine love and curiosity for the jewelry industry. Prior to this summer, I definitely wanted to explore creative careers, and this summer has confirmed my interests in fashion, design, entrepreneurship, and most definitely, management consulting and strategic management. The exposure I received from working at Original Eve Designs gave me deep insight into the large and beautiful world of retail and in particular, jewelry. Most importantly, this summer gave me confidence. This internship taught me many valuable interpersonal skills like communicating effectively and accountability and the importance of consensus-building, all while sharpening my research, writing, and critical thinking skills as well as encouraging creativity and innovative thinking. I hope to apply what I have learned this summer to my classes and discussions at Williams and look forward to the day I can create and develop my own product or service to make a notable impact within my community.

None of this would have been possible without the close support and guidance of my mentor, Eve Streicker ’09. Eve helped me in so many ways, and I cannot thank her enough. A visionary mentor truly makes a difference. I would also like to thank the many members of the jewelry industry who so graciously volunteered their time and mentorship to me this summer. This entire summer experience would not have been possible without the incredible support displayed in the camaraderie of the Williams Alumni Network. I would like to extend a huge thank you to Mr. Alex Shah ’92 and Ms. Louise Shah for sponsoring the Shah 1992 Ventureship Program. Lastly, thank you to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for allowing students the chance to explore and make an impact.