This Hong Kong Jewelry Boutique Is Planning a Big U.S. Expansion
Inside Hong Kong's Landmark Atrium, a swanky mall that houses such luxury labels as Chanel, Dior, and Prada, is a small jewelry boutique with big aspirations. Glimmering baubles in glass cases include wares from a variety of established and emerging designers, from $250 textured silver rings to $70,000 diamond hoop earrings. This store is the sole brick-and-mortar presence of jewelry retailer Plukka—for now. The company is raising cash to fund ambitious plans for global expansion, including a major push into the U.S.
Plukka right now is largely an online shop. Most of the items feature nontraditional aesthetics, an attempt to set the retailer apart from traditional jewelry giants such as Tiffany & Co. and Cartier. Those include Sophie-Birgitt Debuf's rectilinear designs, including a $7,540 diamond-hinged full finger ring, an $8,100 lotus-shaped drop earrings from Nisan Ongwuthitham's collection, as well as an $11,800 black diamond ring (adorned with a skull carved from mammoth fossil) from Konstantina Mahlia.
"We have the breadth of offerings because we cover the entire universe of aesthetics," says Joanne Ooi, Plukka's co-founder and chief executive officer. Previously creative director of Hong Kong clothing store Shanghai Tang, Ooi started Plukka (a portmanteau of "pukka" and "pluck") with Jai Waney in 2011 as a flash sale site. Their business took its current form in 2014, nixing flash sales to focus on pitching "uncompromising creativity," as Ooi likes to say. These days, Plukka adds about one new designer each week while selling private label jewelry under the Plukka name. It carries no inventory.
In October, Plukka will be listed on the ASX, Australia's main securities exchange, and seeks to raise about $8 million from the initial public offering to fund its expansion plans. Ooi wants to open six new boutiques—four in the U.S.—over the next two years. The first will open in London before the end of the year, followed by a New York shop in 2016. Plukka is also planning a series of trunk shows in dozens of cities across the U.S. to give luxury shoppers a look at Plukka's offerings. Plukka already sells its jewelry to a global customer base online, and it has been closely studying consumers in various markets. More than half its online sales already come from the U.S., Ooi says.
The U.S. is Plukka's most important market, so Ooi wants to "shore up" her visibility with these stores. This summer, Plukka opened a pop-up shop in the Hamptons as something of a test run in courting the high-end American customer through a physical store. So far, Plukka's unique jewels have succeeded on the celebrity circuit, attracting such pop stars as Rihanna and Lady Gaga.
The upcoming stores are the key part of the hype Plukka is trying to build. Jewelry, in particular, is the kind of product customers like to touch and feel, Ooi says. She sees no point in limiting the brand by remaining solely online.