tif smith | visual designer, illustrator, and nerd in central virginia.
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role

visual designer. illustrator. printmaker. writer. nerd

contact

tsmith@hellonifty.com
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Case Study:

Holly Lane Christian Jewelry

Date(s):
August 2019-August 2020

Client:
Holly Lane Christian Jewelry

Role:
Creative Director

ART DIRECTION:
Self

For almost 20 years, Holly Lane Christian Jewelry has been offering Christ-centered, scripture-based, hand-crafted jewelry. Created as opportunities to be a witness to the gospel, the jewelry company was started by one woman who began selling her handmade silver clay pieces at craft fairs, growing steadily into the successful business that ships worldwide today.

Goal

In need of a brand refresh and a sense of direction, I was invited onto the team to help find focus and figure out avenues of reaching audiences that would be most successful while staying true to the brand’s purpose of sharing God’s word with others.

With Holly Lane Christian Jewelry possessing a very consistent, beautifully handmade style and a desire to portray a more diverse range of ages and cultures, the ultimate goal was to grow across social media platforms and reach a wider audience.

experience

It isn’t often that I can say my creative experience on a team was difficult, but in this case, working with a small business owner and a rather inclusive product manager meant that I actually spent my time feeling like a creative outsider. There was a lot of resistance to overcome with my suggestions, as the owner was reticent to make her otherwise very personal craft include her personally in any way—eschewing video, uncomfortable with Instagram stories, and desiring to be less in the spotlight at craft shows left me with a challenge on how best to reach her target audience.

We began by going back to the basics: looking at where clients had most engaged with her work, what social media platforms the audience she wanted to build were most active on, and what seasonal sales and other launches had brought in the most business. From there, we set goals of contacting influencers on Instagram, placing timely social media ads on Facebook and Instagram together, and adjusting the frequency of emails. 

We also set up seasonal color palettes and began addressing the brand’s previously disorganized identity presentation. We set firm brand guidelines, and outlined quarterly goals to better organize graphic direction.

This was, frustratingly, the limitation of my reach within the company for the length of my contract. 

Not every graphic design story or case study has a happy ending, which is why I thought it important to include here.

I still believe that through my creative direction, Holly Lane Christian Jewelry not only grew in sales (experiencing the largest Black Friday and Christmas in July sales since the beginning of the company through my strategic direction!), but also grew in understanding of how to embody a brand identity across whatever platforms the owner chose to be active on. A clear direction in photography, both product and lifestyle, as well as a more firm understanding of how to apply basic branding principles across Facebook, Instagram, and Shopify, made a huge difference in the engagement rates and interaction with clients.

It was not my place to change the owner’s personality nor the personality of those who helped run the business, but ultimately conflict of mindset and internal conflict outside of myself led to a premature ending of my contract. I can still see the influences of our working together in the continued success of the business, however.

Outcome