2020 Reflections

This has been a helluva year.

I think we can all agree this is the weirdest year of our lives. And while we all went through similar weirdness, it was still so different for each of us. Many suffered terrible adversity and a lot of people’s lives were drastically changed from how it was before.

Writing a “reflections” post seemed like the thing to do, but in all honesty, I’m not sure what to say. This year was particularly unusual for me, and I’m absolutely certain that’s not going to end here. We’re all just figuring things out as we go along. Here are a few things I learned this year.

This industry is resilient. 

I didn’t work in jewelry in 2008. I started in the industry in 2013, when things had already recovered or were in the process of recovering. I had no idea how tough jewelers were until I saw them in action this year. In spite of store closures, limited foot traffic, and reduced income, I spoke to multiple stores this year that had record-breaking months. Surprisingly, the month of May seemed to be exceptional for my territory. I watched jewelry stores adapt very quickly to the need for e-commerce and concierge service. With no reps on the road and no trade shows to attend, jewelers remained inspired and confident in their buying decisions. So many stores came in every single day during the shutdowns with the lights off and the doors locked. Repairing, cleaning, inventorying, learning. I met countless jewelry professionals who got certified by GIA in their off time. To be honest, in this time of adversity I only saw improvement in the retail jewelry world.

The local economy is sustained by communities with strong beliefs and exceptional zeal.

I just had no idea.

People believe in small businesses, they believe in the local economy, they believe in our system. Honestly, I didn’t know that communities had so much power, or that the individuals who made them were so unified and so strong-willed. It repeatedly shocked me. I’m still shocked.

Content is key.

Retailers, wholesalers, educators, etc all prospered by basically just putting out as much content as humanly possible. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube. It seemed like every industry professional came out of the woodwork and developed a social media presence — and it absolutely worked. The marketing paradigm shifted drastically this year, and the professionals who caught on really came out on top. The more content you can produce, the better. I saw some businesses fast forward from 1999 to 2020 basically overnight. We’re going to continue to see change and development in online content, and many of the companies that can’t produce will inevitably fall behind. I think wholesale jewelry is going through some drastic changes, but it’s going largely unnoticed. Those who don’t adapt will eventually fail.

It’s not over.

We’re going to see the effects of this for a long time. The switch doesn’t flip when the clock strikes midnight and 2020 ends. We’ll still be here, and this will still be our life. So we sure as hell better figure out what to do about that. I think it’s important to remember that adversity is inevitable. You can do everything right and still fail. There are always elements we can’t control. Those are not negative things, they’re facts. And more importantly, if the Lord decides you will be successful then you will be. And if He decides you won’t be successful, then you won’t be.

And at the end of the day, it’s not career success that matters at all.