While wearables has seen its ups and downs in the marketplace, smart jewelry in particular is gaining traction thanks to an ability to address the goals of wearables (track fitness activity, supplement smartphone functions) and appeal to fashion trends — jewelry after all is designed to be pretty. So despite a seemingly unstable market position for fitness trackers, smart jewelry is on the rise. Ringly and Cuff are two of the most prominent smart jewelry makers making headlines in recent weeks, generating millions in funding for their innovative marriage of technology and adornment.
Investor support for smart jewelry lines indicates an opportunity to develop the ecosystem for good-looking wearables, with emerging startups ready to take on the challenge. Today we hear from one such startup, FITness BITsy, founded by two women anxious to incorporate their own fitness trackers into everyday life. The sporty design of most wrist-worn fitness trackers like the Fitbit keep many women from donning wearables to work, parties and formal events. And even though Fitbits are supposed to be worn during workouts, its Flex line of fitness bands tends to get caught on objects and fall off.
FITness BITsy addresses many of the quirks that come with adopting new tech into old life activities, finding success on Etsy and Amazon as primary retail outlets. Co-founders Meg and Cindy share their story below.
TCL: What fitness wearables do you use in your personal lives?
Meg: I just bought the band for the Vivofit by Garmin to see which of our bracelets work with it. The Fitbit is what we happened to both have. Some bracelets work on both. I like the Fitbit in terms of ease of use – it doesn’t have a big profile on the arm.
How did you come about creating smart jewelry coverups?
Cindy: Our business started with the desire to dress up our exercise bands for work and parties. We had both jumped on the fitness band bandwagon, but found the look less than stylish. We chatted about it in August and within a week put a few styles on Etsy. We sold on the same day we listed our first bracelets and it has been steady since.
How do your bracelets work? I see they hold the smartband in place – is there a clip on the underside of the bracelet?
Cindy: The bracelets fit over of the Flex (and now Vivofit and Jawbone and a few others). They are elastic and slip right over the bands easily. They stay in place either by the shape of the main beads, the spacer beads, or the tightness of the bracelet, depending on the style.
The Flex band tends to pop off. Our bracelets help prevent the end from getting caught on something.
Could you share a bit about the creation process?
Cindy: Our concept is to leave the original band in place at all times. There were many positives with our concept and we found negatives with the other method.
– won’t forget to wear your counter
– no need to make a switch
– no change of arriving at the gym without a band to hold your counter
– no liability of someone losing their counter by taking it out of the band and putting it in our bracelet
Others’ concept –
– bad reviews about the difficulty of getting counter into a pouch
– we couldn’t figure out a good way to secure the pouch (and there are reviews that say it comes off the bracelet)
– too easy to forgot or lose counter
Any plans to create other jewelry types for wearables, like pendants or brooches?
Cindy: Not at this time. We aren’t sold on the idea that the counters are accurate when used in a different manner than intended.
I discovered your work on Pinterest – has this been a strong driver for sales?
Cindy: Our customers were the ones who mainly pinned our bracelets. Cindy started pinning about in October and now we have a business Pinterest account. According to the stats provided by Etsy, we have had 500 views coming from Pinterest. That is wonderful! But as a prospective, we have had over 50K views in 4 months.
What seller tips can you share to other Etsy crafters?
Cindy: Find a product that is new/original. Create a lot of styles. Work on your shop constantly. We updated and fixed problems daily in the beginning based on the questions we received from our customers. We finally have all our bracelets sized so that people can order with out contacting us.
Fitbit and Jawbone have both recently launched redesigned smartbands (Fitbit Charge & Jawbone Up3). Any plans to create jewelry for these new lines of wearables?
Cindy: Some of our styles work. We continue to look for new materials.
Meg: We’ll see if we have to make new designs, especially because with the new design you’ll want to see the time. There’s a need in women’s fashion for this.
How do you feel about Jawbone in particular incorporating jewelry-inspired design into their new line? Do you anticipate it will affect your business?
Cindy: We hope that there are a lot of [Fitbit] Flex wearers who want to cover up their band. We have repeat customers. It is fun to wear different styles for different occasions.