b'THE PERFECT PRESENTNecklaces, from bottom to top: Elizabeth Buenaventura gold jumbo Links of Love chain necklace, Pamela Zamore Ray pendant, and 14 year old. In retrospect, who in their right mind would? But thatsObjet-a Curb chain tourmaline necklace. Earrings: Pamela what I did.Zamore Star and Stone Every summer or holiday break, hed work at the retail chainshoops and Noor Shamma mini-huggiestore in downtown Seattle, putting in the hours on the salesfloor through college, graduate school, and law school.After he finished law school, jewelry called again and he answered, spending the first decade of his career working at Ben Bridge, handling marketing, e-commerce, customer service, and visual merchandising. Whether its nature or nurture, I have been deeply inculcated in the jewelry business, and I love it. Its such a wonderful and exciting business.A few years ago, however, this fifth-generation jeweler made the decision to strike out on his own, launching e-commerce jewelry site At Present with partner Monica Chambers. Bridge took some lessons from the family business along with him, as did Chambers from her history in startups, and theyve both learned a few new ones, too. GETTING STARTED While he found his experience at the family business invaluable and treasures the connections he made, Bridge says he always had the idea of starting his own business in the back of his mind.Shortly after my wife and I had our son, we were talking about what was important to us and what we wanted to model to our child, our childrenwe now (also) have a daughter, he says. One of the things that came out of those conversations was, if theresconsumers looking for distinctive items.something that you want to do, you actually have to do it. Having a childHow the public consumes media and marketing today has led to was one of those inflection points where youre like, Im getting olderwhat the pair refers to as the flattening of luxury, Chambers says. and if I dont do this at some point, its just not going to happen. Luxury used to be about access. Now one can see, for example, a With changes to both the business side of Ben Bridge and its leader- Cartier bracelet multiple times when scrolling on social media, walking ship and the way consumers were searching for and shopping for jewelry, itaround New York and/or seeing friends, making it ubiquitous.seemed like as good a time as any to make the leap, Bridge says. I think the way that you sell a luxury object now has to do a lot He and Chambers, who were introduced by a mutual friend,more with, Does it speak to me? Whats the story behind it? And how started jewelry e-commerce site At Present in November 2019 afterdoes it connect to me, so I can style it my own way? as opposed to, months of conversations.This is made by a luxury brand that everyone covets, Chambers says. Chambers had plenty of startup and entrepreneurial experience toThe third macro-trend playing into their business was jewelry bring to the partnership.buying slowly migrating more online.Her first job out of college was at a record label, which helpedBridge says that while they could see it was on an upward trajec-her see firsthand how radically an industry was being disrupted bytory, when they were first building At Present, they thought it would digital change, she tells National Jeweler, a time she describes asbe another five years before people were really comfortable buying formative for her career.jewelry online in any great amount.Chambers, a graduate of Harvard Business School, also gained ex- And then March of last year hit, and that attitude changed over perience helping early-stage startups scale their businesses. She aidedthe course of five weeks, Bridge says.communications company WPP in growing the technology-focusedOnline shopping shifted from being just about necessitieslike parts of the business and worked with two New York-based designtoilet paper and cleaning suppliesand items its not necessary to firms that gave her insight into the struggles of designers and creatives.see in personlike booksto discretionary items and higher-ticket At Present also makes her a second-time co-founder; she wasgoods because consumers had no alternative under nationwide shel-behind the launch of venture capital firm Work-Bench. ter-in-place orders.For this new company, Chambers and Bridge spent the first half ofThe timing for launching an online-only jewelry seller proved to be 2020 adding to the team and building the business amid the lock- perfect, aligning with a massive change in consumer behavior. down before launching on Aug. 1.They predicated At Present on three macro-trends they saw inSTANDING OUT IN A SATURATED MARKETthe market. Bridge and Chambers designed At Present to be a curated jewelry Number one was the fact that more women are buying jewelrymarketplace that connects emerging designers with customers who are for themselves, a trend thats evidenced in myriad industry surveys,looking for unique things as a means of self-expression, Bridge says. acquisitions and advertising campaigns.We distinguish ourselves by finding what we think is the most The second trend was the continuing increase in the number ofexciting jewelry across a variety of price points. Its not about the Continued on page 35NATIONAL JEWELER 33 caption TK'