Foxy Originals Turns 16!
Canadian-based jewelry company Foxy Originals turns Sweet 16! Known for their distinct look and original flare, Foxy Originals jewelry has become a fan favorite in North America. FSB caught up with Co-Founder Jennifer Ger to take a look at Foxy’s journey to success and what to expect at their celebration sample sale this weekend!
Veronica Hufana: So happy sweet 16! Looking back from when you began to now, what would you note as some of the major changes to the brand and what remains classically “Foxy”?
Jennifer Ger: When we first set out, we always wanted to establish Foxy as a leading brand in designer jewelry in Canada that focused on high style jewelry that was accessible and sensibly priced. Everything we produce retails between $20 – $45, maximum $50. We stayed true to that because we really want Foxy to remain something that people can afford to buy as a gift for themselves or for somebody else.
By 2001 we were already experimenting with the casting process and making everything in the studio out of pewter. Today, everything is made out of pewter and then plated in gold, silver or bronze. Using these materials and having everything made in Toronto is still something that remains classically Foxy. So, our pricing and our vision has not wavered.
In terms of major changes to the brand, we were actually hand-making everything in beads. All the items had a floating bead style, and everything had a very different look back in 1998 because we weren’t using casted metal.
Another thing that has changed extensively is our distribution. When we started we were mostly distributing everything ourselves through festivals, craft fairs and concerts, selling direct to the consumer. We still have a grassroots-event-based component to our company. However, we’re now sold through some major channels as well. We sell through about 600 independent boutiques in North America, through Target Canada, Shoppers Drugmart, and Indigo. So Foxy has grown up a lot, but it hasn’t lost its personality!
VH: Tell us about the “Foxy Customer”. Has your target audience grown and matured along with the company and brand?
JG: Yes, definitely! Although we have gained a lot of new customers along the way, when we launched we were mainly targeting university grads because that’s who WE were and who we knew. We also wanted to cater to the young professional that wanted to look really stylish without wearing anything that screamed out too loud. People used our jewelry in their first jobs against their professional attire to show that they had a streak of originality and personality.
The maturing of our main audience has even prompted us to shift the timing of our promotional efforts. We used to always have our sales in the evening after 8 pm. But now a lot of our customers have young kids, so now it’s easier for them to come down during the day. We also found that these customers seem to be gravitating less towards the larger, dangly items and more towards the smaller items like studs. I think because it makes things easier when holding a kid that likes to pull and yank on shiny objects! So their changing situations also informs some of our designing decisions. However, there’s still something for everyone in our collections. I can see a 55 year old woman on the subway wearing one of our pieces, and then see it on a 20 year old at the mall. So our lines still have lots of versatility.
VH: Foxy has maintained a distinctive look from its original inception. How do you continue to broaden the scope of your designs while still remaining true to your unique look?
JG: That’s always a challenge in the sense that every season’s trends are changing rapidly. We have to walk a fine balance between jumping on trend band wagons and staying true to ourselves while moving our customers along with us. A sure way to limit your success is to keep doing ONLY what you’ve always done. But you don’t want to risk moving your customers into a category of style that they are not comfortable with.
Lately we’ve been inspired by meaningful quotes and we’ve added many pieces that have been hugely successful. We’ve even had to retire some of our reversible and oversized pieces because it started being all we were known for. And as mentioned before, we are moving into smaller-scale pieces. So we’ve also had to look at was was and wasn’t working in our selection and that continues to help determine the styles we put out.
But our design process is inherently consistent. The way Suzie and I think and draw is very geometric-based and always influenced by patterns. We think that strong, bold shapes is something that really resonates with our customers, so we’ll always have elements of that. So even though we are experimenting and trying different looks and styles, its important that a Foxy piece is still recognizable as a Foxy piece, be it from now or even 10 years ago.
VH: And you’ve also put out a special necklace for teachers! Perfect for back to school.
JG: Yes, the “Live Love Teach” necklace available in sterling silver.
VH: Foxy Originals has basically evolved in tandem with the internet. How has the internet’s evolution impacted Foxy’s evolution?
JG: Well, establishing our online store helped us overcome certain distribution challenges. For example, if a store carrying our product didn’t have something that a customer was requesting, the customer would ask us to ship it to the store, which involved a lot of co-ordinating. Also, there were certain retail outlets in Canada and the USA that weren’t carrying our brand, so customers living in those areas wouldn’t have access to our product. So we launched our e-commerce store in 2007 and the first day we had tons of orders! So now, it’s great to go to bed and then wake up with orders that have come pouring in all through the night! The mailing lists also help us incorporate special perks, like free shipping or discounts. We can even reach customers on their birthdays and give them special deals.
In terms of social media, it has definitely given us more flexibility with our time in terms of promoting sales or events, and keeping us connected with our customers when we don’t have the luxury of meeting with them face to face. It’s also given us a greater reach with regards to who we can connect with out there.
VH: Who was the very first celebrity to wear your products and what product did they wear? Tell us about some of your celebrity clientele. Who are you looking forward to working with in the future?
JG: It was Nelly Furtado who wore our Carmen necklace which was a reversible enamel necklace. Other celebrities are Lauren Conrad, Sienna Miller and Miley Cyrus. We have a page on our website called “Famous Foxy Fans” that shows many of the other celebrities we’ve worked with. We’ve either had the privilege of meeting them, or stylists have used our jewelry to style those clients, and it’s really exciting to see them wearing our jewelry. At the moment, we would love to see Feist wearing our product!
VH: Foxy in the public forum! Tell us about some of the venues or media outlets where your product has gained exposure over the past 16 years.
JG: When trying to get our product on celebrities, we have a friend that works backstage at Much Music and he would put our product in the green room as a gift for celebrity guests. So we would watch the tabloids to see if they chose to wear our product! For the movie “Snakes on a Plane”, we have no idea how that happened! It wasn’t requested from us, so a stylist must’ve picked them up somewhere. They were used to pierce someone’s skin to suck the poison out. It was kind of funny to us because we were thinking to ourselves, “Our Lilith earrings are not that sharp”! I actually took my dad to see that movie in the theaters and he yelled out, “those are my daughter’s earrings!” But that’s the organic effect of having your product in so many places at once.
VH: Tell us about what it means to the company to be home grown and produced in Canada. Is Canadian pride a big part of the brand? Has it been a driving force for your success?
JG: Canadian pride and Canada-produced is definitely intertwined with our brand values. If you’re going to spend your life working on something, you have to make sure it works with your personal values. So, knowing who makes our jewelry and that it’s made in a happy and healthy environment where people are paid fairly is really important to us. And that’s something we can guarantee to our customers. We can also ensure that the quality is the best, that it’s made with the highest quality metals, and maintain the right health and safety standards.
Also, I think a lot of Canadians would like to support Canadian product, but it’s hard to find the product. So being made and sold here primarily gives fellow Canadians that access, and gives them a chance to make an educated purchase.
VH: It’s interesting that Foxy Originals has chosen to celebrate their “Sweet 16” as a company milestone. Most company’s celebrate on intervals of 5 or 10 years. What is the significance behind this decision and what can we look forward to at the Sweet 16 sample sale?
JG: We chose to break from convention and celebrate Foxy’s “Sweet 16” because it’s fun, festive, youthful, and that definitely works with our customers, who are primarily female. And customers look at Foxy as “a friend”, that’s the kind of brand we are. So we can look forward to cupcakes and prizes at the sample sale, as well as good deals and just an overall good time! Our favorite thing at the end of the day is to connect with the customers in person, which is why we hold events like this sample sale.
VH: What is the next milestone we can look forward to celebrating with “Miss Foxy”?
JG: You can catch us next for our annual holiday sale at the Bata Shoe Museum!
Congrats to Founders Jennifer Ger and Suzie Chemel for bringing us a Foxy 16 years! Let’s keep going strong ladies!
To stay connected with Foxy Originals for events, contests, sales, or if you see something “Foxy” when you’re out and about, check out the links below: