Jeff Feero of Alex Sepkus New York built a detailed and dynamic catalog using Bento for iPad.
When you craft fine jewelry, details are everything. Each piece is an amalgam of glittering gems, detailed engravings, and lustrous metals. And when you have a catalog that contains thousands of pieces, all of those details need to be charted—and showcased. That's why jewelry makers Alex Sepkus and Jeff Feero of Alex Sepkus New York built a detailed and dynamic catalog using Bento for iPad. "Our catalog used to be static, printed on paper," says Feero.
"Now we can sort the catalog on the fly, search it, and display super-high-resolution images. We can truly show customers our pieces in full detail. It surpasses anything we've ever had, including our website. It really feels like the future of our industry."
Feero teamed with jewelry designer Alex Sepkus in 1992. The duo creates intricately carved pieces that are sold in jewelry stores across the U.S. Every piece they've made is thoroughly documented. First, there's the recipe—the materials and techniques used to create the piece. Then there's material and labor costs. There's information about buyers and retailers. Finally, there are many, many photographs. To manage it all, Feero and Sepkus had a custom FileMaker Pro database built. The database quickly became the hub of their business. They managed production and even built their catalog—complete with high-resolution photos—with FileMaker Pro. It seemed that things couldn't get any better. Then the iPad was released.
"I went to the Apple Store to see the iPad and I was blown away," says Feero "I thought it would be wonderful if we could get our catalog on the iPad, if we could manipulate high-resolution images on that gorgeous screen." Feero quickly learned that Bento for iPad could do just that. He had the catalog and business database ported to Bento, then synched his new Bento database with his iPad. The team had the catalog of their dreams.
"We make intensely carved jewelry and all the details really come out under magnification," says Feero. "You want to show the customer what's going on in the piece. Now with the iPad and Bento, we can just touch the picture and blow it up as big as the person wants."
Additionally, Feero can quickly search the database to find pieces that may appeal to a particular customer. "If they're looking for pieces with yellow diamonds, I can pull them up. If they want to see more of a certain style, I can just tap a collection and it's there," he says. "It makes it much easier and faster to work with the customer."
Connecting with Customers
The Bento for iPad catalog works so well that Feero hopes to distribute it to jewelry stores across the country. "I took four iPads loaded with our catalog to a trade show and instantly I had retailers asking to use it in their stores," says Feero. "Most stores carry maybe 40 or 50 pieces of jewelry from any one designer. We have more than 1200 varieties. If the sales person wants to show our line to a customer, they walk them over to a computer and bring up our website. With Bento for iPad, they can keep the customer right there at the counter."
In the future, the catalog/database will also track customer and wholesale retailer contact information and order history, making it a powerful sales tool. "We have the ability to keep track of what you ordered when," says Feero. "For a ring, we can track finger size, color of stone, color of metal. A sales person can look back and see what you purchased in the past to help you find a new piece."
Feero hopes that other jewelry designers will sign on for a Bento for iPad catalog. "Stores typically carry jewelry from between five and fifteen designers," he says. "Conceivably, a store could keep all of the designers' catalogs on iPads. In most stores, each salesperson has a few loyal customers. With all the catalogs on one iPad, they'd have much more flexibility, they'd be able to show a lot of varieties."
Feero also plans to port his own internal database to an iPad. The jewelry maker will access the database of designs in his shop. "I'll be able to have it with me to answer questions while I'm working," he says. "There are a lot of times when unusual things come up. A customer may come into your store with unusually shaped diamond that doesn't quite fit one of our mountings. We need to know what it would take to make it fit. If I'm not in the office, I can just open up the database, find what it might take to modify a piece to fit, and give a quote right away."
Bento for iPad has also inspired Feero to log his own jewelry collection. "I've fallen in love with Bento because it makes cataloging my personal collection so easy," he says. "I need to make personal records of the pieces I own for insurance reasons. With Bento, I can include photos and every detail about a piece—number and type of stones, type of metal, age, who made it, anything."
In addition to his personal collection, Feero tracks the shop's collection of unusual gemstones using Bento for iPad. "We have a lot of unusually colored diamonds—browns, pinks, oranges—that will be used someday for custom pieces," says Feero. "I built a database of them in Bento so when I'm traveling I can look at the inventory. I've taken photos and written descriptions. With detailed macro photos on the iPad, I can even zoom in and see the inclusions in the stones."
Bento for iPad has truly brought a higher level of detail and organization to the jewelry makers, says Feero. "With Bento for iPad, we have a fully interactive and detailed catalog, an easy and portable way to access all our information," he says. "It will make serving retailers and customers much, much easier and more effective. It lets us show our work in all its detail and connect with the customer."