How app star Elizabeth Potts parlayed her love of jewelry and passion for storytelling into Instagram’s coolest vintage bauble biz
“Good morning, and welcome to the best day everrrrrr!” purred Elizabeth Potts, founder of The Moonstoned, in a video posted to the e-comm company’s Instagram feed (@themoonstoned) the week before Christmas. While chatting into the camera, she executed an adorable little dance that involved whipping her head from side to side, a huge smile on her lovely face. “It’s finally trunk-show day, and I’m really excited, in case you couldn’t tell.”
It’s Potts’ (very infectious) passion for the pieces she handpicks—all vintage and antique, and often quite uncommon—that has made The Moonstoned a platform to watch. The 29-year-old’s sunny vibe and easygoing persona, captured on Instagram in videos and written posts that mimic the feel of casual emails, convert. Big time. Roughly 85 percent of The Moonstoned’s sales originate on Instagram.
While the Hudson, N.Y.–based retailer says she’s still experimenting with video, she believes the medium has “created this personal, peer-to-peer shopping experience that you don’t necessarily get when you’re in a jewelry store. With videos, I cross over into this special place with people.”
What’s your background in jewelry?
I grew up in New Mexico, inspired by the Native American jewelry artistry there. I remember visiting a Zuni reservation and watching how jewelry was made; every part of it was so thoughtful. In school I was a major history nerd; I went to New Mexico State University for jewelry design and history. The love of the two things came together naturally.
What was the initial idea for The Moonstoned?
I had a bunch of beautiful resources for rare and antique jewelry, and I just wanted to share them. [At first] I was sharing with friends and meeting with people and showing them jewelry. I launched TheMoonstoned.com in 2015, and then Instagram began to become a major platform, and I started up there. I’ve been really surprised at how effective both have been.
How do you pick the pieces you sell?
I can’t even tell you about trends. I buy what I love.
How did you get started posting selfie-style videos?
When I did my first video, I was so nervous. I remember doing it and doing it and doing it again. Finally, I was like, “I don’t need this to be perfect; I just want to get it out.” And if you look at the videos, they’re not perfect. They’re silly and sometimes loud and sometimes stupid. Sometimes I don’t say anything, and sometimes I have a lot to say. I’ve gotten to a point where I try to let go of my ego and my fear and be genuine. I actually tend to shy away from technology, but things like video can create better bonds with people and make the whole jewelry experience way more fun.
What are your goals for The Moonstoned in 2019?
These past few months I’ve started paying more attention to things like algorithms. I totally dove into all that, so in 2019 I’m projecting to double or even triple sales. The first two years have been really organic, and I’ve been able to share a lot about myself and why I love jewelry. I think that’s only going to grow and become more fun and interactive. And with the videos, I have a few plans for getting people really involved. Did you know you can call people through Instagram now? I’ve been experimenting a little with that.
What would you say is the secret of The Moonstoned’s success?
You can buy a beautiful piece of jewelry from anyone, the same way you can buy fancy shoes. But ideally, you want to know how your jewelry feels. And really, you want to know where you’re getting it from, and that someone is excited about it.