Cast is continuing its mission of aiming to disrupt the fine jewelry market with its first retail partnership.
The San Francisco-based fine jewelry brand founded by Eric Ryan and Rachel Skelly — who are behind brands like Olly Vitamins, Plum Organics, Method and Welly — is bringing its playful, approachable strategy to Nordstrom, entering six Nordstrom locations with its stand-alone style bar, which is meant to mimic the brand’s own in-store experience.
“When you walk into the first floor of any department store worldwide, you look at the beauty department — the activation, the creativity, the energy — and then you look across at any jewelry department, it’s like right out of the ‘90s — like the 1890s — it really has not changed,” said Ryan, who is also Cast’s chief executive officer. “So, we like to go into these white spaces where nobody else is really paying attention and reinvent it. That was part of our attraction to this category.”
Cast launched in 2021 with the mission of bringing a fun and approachable vibe to the fine jewelry category, which the executives described has been historically “cold and intimidating.”
The brand has worked to change this experience through its three San Francisco stores. Customers are welcomed into the store with a drink and a menu of prices for the fine jewelry offerings. They’re encouraged to sit with a stylist to try on an array of styles, mixing and matching as they wish.
“Eric and I have a track record of bringing play, joy and optimism to categories that sometimes are a little bit tired or can be a little bit stale,” said Skelly, who is also Cast’s chief creative officer. “In the case of fine jewelry, it can be kind of cold and intimidating. Fine jewelry is amazing and makes you feel amazing, but when you shop for fine jewelry, it can feel exactly the opposite. We really got excited about the experience and how could we bring something optimistic and bring fun to that experience when the jewelry makes you feel incredible.”
Cast is bringing this in-store experience to its 50-square-foot Nordstrom style bars, where customers are invited to sit down with a stylist and try on options. The style bars are located at the retailer’s locations in Portland, Ore.; Walnut Creek, Calif.; Palo Alto, Calif.; San Jose, Calif.; Tampa, Fla., and Aventura, Fla.
The partnership was important for Cast as it gives the brand insight into different markets outside the Bay Area and gives the new brand credibility to customers who are unfamiliar with it.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to win in retail on either price and convenience, which is really well served online, or winning on experience and giving people a reason to walk in,” Ryan said. “The model that we had hoped is really coming through that’s driving our growth is when she walks into our store — just the experience of being greeted with a drink and a menu and this really visual merchandising world and then a stylist is working with you, not a salesperson.”
This in-store strategy has contributed to Cast’s recent growth. In the last quarter, the brand saw a sales increase of 222 percent.
The executives partially credit this growth to the breadth of Cast’s offerings across rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings and other fine jewelry styles. The brand enlists a group of designers who regularly release pieces in a variety of styles, giving customers more options that have resulted in repeat purchases, according to the executives.
The brand’s approachability also comes through with its price range. Prices starts as low as $175 and many styles fall under $1,000. Cast uses different materials for its pieces, with lower priced offerings utilizing 9-karat gold and sterling silver, and higher priced jewelry using 14-karat gold and both lab and naturally sourced diamonds.
“We wanted to create a brand that was always going to have something new for women to explore,” Skelly said. “Cast is about self-purchasing and shopping for yourself. We love gifting, but you’re not waiting for a partner or someone to buy you something. It’s about wardrobing in fine jewelry.”
Cast is Skelly and Ryan’s latest business venture and their first in the jewelry category. The executives hail from the personal care and wellness spaces, with the two first joining forces to launch vitamin brand Olly in 2013. Ryan’s first business venture took place in 2001 with the launch of personal care brand Method. He later went on to help found personal care brand Welly in 2019 and cofounded wellness brand Will Perform last year alongside Serena Williams.
The brand recently closed its latest round of funding, which was led by True Ventures.
Going forward, Cast has its sights on continuing its retail expansion after assessing its learnings from its current stand-alone stores and the Nordstrom locations. Through its growth, Cast is still committed to upholding its playful and approachable strategy.
“Everything we do is about bringing design and creativity to change that experience in the heart of it,” Ryan said. “Jewelry is a sensory experience. It really is about nothing more than design and how it makes you feel. When you look at the category, there’s a lot of ego in it, so, that was part of it. Hopefully you see we’re very low-ego.”