Contemporary jewelry store SHELTER of Washington D.C. began as the personal brand of jeweler and owner Mallory Shelter. Using her background in PR and marketing, she first launched her jewelry collection online, though she always dreamed of opening a retail space for it.
"After experimenting with several pop-up shops and exploring bringing on other brands that I had long admired, I took the leap and opened my brick + mortar space in 2018." she shared. "Since then we’ve grown to a team of 15 people, over 30 jewelry brands, and a strong customer base!"
Today Mallory shares what trends she's seeing among her clientele, and what's not to miss if you're in their corner of the city.
What compelled you to open your store?
I had run my brand for a few years out of my private studio, but was feeling ready to take the next step and expand both my offerings and my knowledge to a larger clientele. I noticed a real gap in the DC market for something like SHELTER. There were a lot of very high end jewelry stores, and a few costume-style shops, but nothing that had a strong offering of independent fine jewelry brands. I was also hearing from many of my friends who were in the process of getting engaged that the engagement ring shopping process felt very overwhelming and unapproachable. With those two points in mind, I felt fairly confident that a shop like SHELTER could do well - one that had an unfussy and low pressure shopping environment, where people could feel comfortable exploring different styles, trying pieces on, and learning more about the craftsmanship behind some of the brands.
Describe the customer who frequents your shop. What are they on the hunt for?
Our core customers are on the hunt for something that speaks to them. It’s not so much a particular style or brand, but I think there’s a real joy in finding a piece that simply thrills you when you put it on. Because we do carry an ever-changing selection from brands we carry we get a lot of return customers who are regularly looking to grow and add to their jewelry collections.
What requests or trends are you sensing right now?
From an engagement standpoint, we’re seeing a lot of larger solitaire bezel set styles, along with sapphire and non-diamond cluster options. Lab diamonds have become quite popular with our customers, and I think there’s a little bit more of a sense of playfulness and fun with engagement. I think the notion that this one ring will exist forever and forever is going by the wayside a little bit. I think people want what they like now, with the openness of resetting stones down the road if they outgrow the piece.
From a fine jewelry standpoint, dainty pieces always sell well for us but there is suddenly more interest in larger statement pieces. We’re excited about cocktail rings, dangle earrings, and chunkier bracelets.
How many designers do you carry? Do you sell products besides jewelry?
We have about 30 jewelry brands in the shop, and a handful of other non-jewelry brands. Besides jewelry, we carry small accessories and giftable items - candles, clothing, handbags, and perfumes.
What is interesting about your neighborhood or location?
Union Market holds a lot of meaning for me both personally and professionally. I’ve lived within a mile radius of where the shop is since i’ve been in DC - so on that level it’s been fun to see it change and grow, and hold a real part of it. Professionally, I started my retail career in the neighborhood at local boutique Salt & Sundry. From there, I had several of my own pop-ups in the market itself, as well as ran a six month long concept shop around the corner from where our store is now. So it really feels like home to me, and i’m honored to be there!
Do you have a favorite place for a meal or coffee nearby?
Too many! For a coffee, I love our neighbors at the Village Cafe, or a latte + delicious pastry from Pluma. For dinner and drinks, St. Anselm next door to us is the perfect spot for a delicious meal (don’t sleep on their martini!)
Is your store a part of any local organizations or charities?
We make a regular contribution to several non-profit organizations including N Street Village, Black Artists + Designers Guild, Planned Parenthood and more. In addition, we often do fundraisers or portion of sales to specific local organizations!
If we’re in the neighborhood, what’s not to miss?
Salt & Sundry is a lovely homegoods shop inside Union Market owned by my good friend Amanda that I can always find something I must have. Now that I have a baby I’ve also spent way too much time at the kids shop Three Littles stocking up on clothes and toys.