Building a Brand Around ‘Me-Commerce’


Gemvara came to marlo marketing in the spring of 2010, a few months after it had changed its business model from an unknown B2B custom jewelry technology company to a direct-to-consumer jewelry e-tailer, and appointed its founder Matt Lauzon as CEO. In addition to driving online sales, we were charged with presenting Gemvara as a rapidly-growing, “must-watch” company with major plans to turn the archaic jewelry industry upside down. Before our work on behalf of Gemvara began, the company lacked any brand recognition and had no additional budget for either OOP costs or advertising.


Given the limitations of the start-up’s marketing budget that couldn’t support flashy events, celebrity endorsements, unlimited free jewelry handouts and expensive SMTs, we had no choice but to focus on pure cut-and-dry media relations.  In order to create awareness amongst possible investors, employees and strategic partners, we focused on tech and business press; yet, at the same time, in order to drive traffic and sales, we had to focus equal attention on fashion and accessories outlets.  In order to differentiate Lauzon from the CEO of every other start-up, we positioned him as rising star in consumer tech due to his thought leadership around a new “me-commerce” concept designed to grab the attention of VC and key influencers for future funding.  Simultaneously, our focus on the quality, craftsmanship, customization and savings as a result of direct-to-consumer sales were the drivers for product placement. However, because of the high cost of the product as well as production lead-times, the traditional practice of sending samples to the media proved challenging, requiring our creativity and can-do attitude to shine through to ensure no missed opportunities.


We secured an array of media coverage not only for the site’s virtual jewelry inventory offerings (Bridal Guide, The Nate Berkus Show, The Martha Stewart Show, O-The Oprah Magazine, USA Today), but also for its young CEO using the ‘me-commerce’ angle (Inc “30 Under 30”, Entrepreneur, TechCrunch). The unique hybrid of tech and lifestyle media coverage catapulted Gemvara’s CEO into the spotlight and helped them secure an additional $20 million in funding, grow the company to over 60 employees, recruit seasoned industry execs, and launch thousands of customizable designs. Our work drove 1 million visitors to the site in Q4 2011, helping them beat almost every internal projection, as well as raise $26M in funding and making Forbes 2011 list of “America’s Most Promising Private Companies.”


  • Media Coverage