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“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” ~ Bill Nye
That sound you’ve been hearing over the last 15 months or so, which started as a low hum and has now grown into a unmistakable roar, are the collective voices of nearly 11,000 jewelry industry professionals interacting with each other on the Jewelers Helping Jewelers (JHJ) closed Facebook group.
It’s been a little over a year now since I first ventured into the group, quietly observing in the background for the first month, and then venturing slowly into the chaos that comes with a group of close to 11,000 very opinionated business owners. At the heart of it all is the sweet and spicy self-proclaimed “Glambassador” Aleah Arundale, who it appears, never sleeps as she continues to guide the group to even greater heights.
I had the chance recently to catch up with Aleah, discuss the amazing evolution of JHJ and get some insight into what a typical day administering her “No Rules” group looks like.
Aleah shared with me that she gets approximately 700 requests each week from people who are interested in becoming members of JHJ. Out of those 700 requests, approximately 10%, or 70 - 75 actually get approved for membership. Her main criteria for admittance is that the person requesting access to JHJ must be a full-time bench or retail jeweler. Occasionally, she brings in additional industry members, such as refiners, gem dealers or wholesalers if she feels they can contribute greatly to the group through their goods, services or industry experience.
Aside from dealing with the extensive vetting process and other administrative-related duties such as removing political, offensive or non-jewelry related posts, answering JHJ Feed-related questions including, “Why can’t I see my post?” or “Where did the search function disappear to?” she creates and posts content, including 2 videos, 3 jokes and 5 sales tips every day.
All of this adds up to about 40 hours a week of time spent at the helm of what is hands down the most popular and populated social media outlet for members of the jewelry industry.
I spent some time reviewing my observations from a year ago, when I initially profiled the JHJ (3700 members at that time) with the things I have observed over the course of 2017, to see if I could chart changes in the group structure as it has continued its phenomenal growth.
And what I found mirrors closely with what I initially observed. There is a lot of good to be found on this feed, which outweighs the not so good. But weeding out the “not so good” and getting to a place where you are “good” and comfortable with what you see on your personal JHJ feed takes time, patience and a vigorous use of the “Block” button.
Insights for the group during a 28 day period showed me there were 270,600 posts, comments and interactions. 9158 of the nearly 11,000 members were active in that same time period and the top 5 posts during that period generated more than 30,000 comments, views and interactions. That’s a lot of opinions flowing fast and furious, which can easily lead to hurt feelings and communication breakdowns at best, because sometimes the mob is wrong, and the innocent are crushed.
I have witnessed Aleah herself be the target of some of this bad behavior, and admire the fact that she still soldiers on even in the face of nastiness, standing by her “no rules” rule, and continuing to promote the benefits and blessings that JHJ has brought into so many lives since its inception.
Some of the JHJ blessings include the incredible story of Jonathan Figler from Jak Figler Designs. Several months ago, Jonathan wrote to Aleah, “I wanted to give a special Thank You to Aleah Arundale and this group. The success we have achieved through this group has given my wife and I the amazing opportunity to give these two amazing little red-heads their forever home. Mom passed away early this year, and Dad is unable to care for them. I cannot begin to explain how much they have been through (more than most adults could handle) but they now have a safe place to call their own. We would have welcomed them into our home regardless, but the success of our business has made this MUCH easier. Aleah Arundale, I know this group cannot be easy to manage, the drama, the late nights and the stress of putting together content. You have to know that you are making a difference in people’s lives. What JHJ has done for our family: Last year at this time our print style jewelry was sold in 15 stores. We now sell through over 90 retailers throughout the USA and are adding accounts regularly. Thank you all so much for every share and mention of our name. You have no idea how much this all means to our family. You are ALL truly making a difference in people’s lives.”
Others who have benefitted from the JHJ family, and the 100% free forum it provides, include a jeweler who experienced the loss of a 19 year old son, and then the grace of receiving a beautiful tribute necklace from a fellow JHJ member she did not know, but who had also suffered the loss of a child.
My favorite community bonding moments are shared by jewelers who, in the past, felt they were isolated and have now found a whole new sparkly family through Jewelers Helping Jewelers. More notable mentions include the experience of two brothers who inherited a jewelry store in a remote area and felt like they had to go it alone until they found JHJ, as well as JHJ member Keith, who said he made more friends in one year on JHJ than he did in the last 29 years in the jewelry business.
It has also been amazing to watch people within “the group” step up and implement programs to help deal with incidents that tend to harm the morale and overall good nature of JHJ. One such program is the newly launched “JHJ Ambassadors Club,” pioneered by Glenn Wachler. Glenn said, “I have benefitted tremendously from this group and all my new friends. I know that there is some less than appropriate behavior that happens on a daily basis on the JHJ page, and rather than ignore it, I wanted to take steps to support Aleah and be part of the solution. That’s why I created The Ambassador’s Pledge.” Glenn has received a very positive response to the JHJ Ambassador’s Pledge and has actively encouraged his JHJ friends to share the Ambassador’s Pledge within the group.
So what’s in store for JHJ in 2018? Peering into the faux-diamond paperweight on my desk shows me a continuously growing community with the sassy and sparkling Aleah Arundale continuing to change, shape and create an evolving community for industry professionals to connect and protect their own, with a few more growing pains along the way. If managing 11,000 egos, thousands of questions and the occasional jeweler behaving badly on a day to day basis hasn’t slowed her down yet, I doubt tackling the challenges of a new year (which include welcoming a little baby girl into the Arundale family) will phase her in the slightest!
If you are a retail jewelry store owner or bench jeweler who is interested in becoming a member of the Jewelers Helping Jewelers Facebook community, please visit the Jewelers Helping Jewelers Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/JewelersHelpingJewelers/
Ann Glynn is President and CEO of Southern Jewelers Guild, an organization dedicated helping jewelers, vendors and industry-related tradespeople identify their target market, create and grow a client base, pair you with vendor partners who provide tools to help you succeed, and work with you to make sure you are operating at optimal performance.