Romy Devack’s world was turned upside down when her father passed away. Her sadness became Sincerely, a jewelry business with a loyal following that turns the handwriting of loved ones into high-end keepsakes.
Romy Devack’s life was forever changed when her father passed away.
She was still reeling a few months after his death from cancer in September 2014, while preparing to celebrate her mother’s birthday — the first her mom would mark without her husband. But she was struggling to find a present that would be right at a bittersweet time.
Then inspiration hit: She would create something special that honored his memory. When you lose someone, there is so little to physically hold onto, Devack says. But a gold-and-diamond necklace in the shape of his signature would allow her mother to keep her husband close to her heart — literally. “Handwriting is so specific to a person,” she explained.
It was meant to be a one-time gesture, but family and friends began requesting similar necklaces. And Devack realized she had more than a touching gift on her hands.
On September 29, 2016 — the second anniversary of her father’s passing — she launched Sincerely, a Los Angeles-based jewelry business that sells necklaces and more featuring a loved one’s handwriting, each cast in 14k gold and some encrusted with diamonds.
Her venture is small — at present, she sells between 10 to 15 pieces per month. But its stable of repeat customers, who account for about half of Sincerely’s client base and often send new clients her way, are giving Devack growing confidence in her idea’s long-term potential.
To grow the company, Devack is selling a high-end product and offering high-touch customer service — she works directly with every customer Sincerely gets — to keep them coming back.
She says it’s a value learned from her father.
A Loving Dad’s Legacy
Devack had always been close with her father, Stephen. “He was a real character. His personality was bigger than life.”
His zest for life was especially on display during shopping trips, with Devack remembering him as “the ultimate consumer.” She recalls hitting the racks for her prom dress with him in tow, for example, and laughing while dodging his suggestions for lavish pieces of statement jewelry to accompany her dress.
His enthusiasm for shopping was only eclipsed by his enthusiasm for the people in his life. He was a loving dad and a social man, she says, with a calendar full of lunches, motorcycle rides and plans to fly remote-control planes. When he passed away, hundreds of people attended his funeral — a testament to the impact he had on the people around him, she says.
“Every person he was friends with thought he was their best friend, because he took the time to make them feel special,” Devack adds.
And that kind of intentional care for others, it turns out, is a hereditary trait. Devack says that, when it comes to gift-giving, generic tokens have never appealed to her. “I always loved buying people really meaningful presents. No one gets a gift certificate or candle from me.”
After her father died, she knew she wanted to do something moving for her mother’s birthday — and the gold-and-diamond necklace she commissioned from a family friend more than fit the bill.
Now she brings that same sentiment and loving attention to her customers. Devack talks to every client herself, starting when they place their orders and continuing well after their items have shipped. She says some clients have become “like family” to her, and they regularly text updates about new births and other family milestones.
As it turns out, that kind of effort doesn’t just foster friendships — it also inspires customer loyalty. “You build relationships, and they trust you.”
Building the Business
Devack was born and raised in Florida, and spent many of her childhood days playing with the rings and necklaces found in mother’s jewelry boxes. But she had no plans to turn her love of baubles into a career. When she graduated from the University of Florida in 2007, she moved to Los Angeles and began working as a stylist and personal shopper.
Yet, Devack had never wanted a regular 9-to-5 life. So when she got the idea for Sincerely, starting a business felt like the right move for her. “I always had this little bit of entrepreneurial spirit in me,” she says.
She leaned on friends and family for help getting her idea off the ground. First, her attorney uncle created an LLC for Sincerely. A close friend who owned a digital marketing agency — and also understood the pain of losing a parent — helped her develop a logo and design a website.
She also created a social media presence for the brand, partnered with a jewelry manufacturer near her California home, and found a custom gift-box maker in Italy to provide packaging.
It took about a year to set up the brand before its debut to the world, but Sincerely launched smoothly in September 2016. To establish herself from competitors offering similar keepsakes, Devack has focused high-end jewelry using solid 14-karat gold and diamonds. Prices for custom necklaces start at $500, and go up depending on the materials.
Relationships for the Future
Less than 2 years on, Devack is still the only full-time employee of her jewelry business, relying upon her manufacturing and digital marketing partnerships for much of the support she needs. And since she reinvests all of the profits back into Sincerely, she works for luxury consignment shop The RealReal for an income.
Devack is working aggressively to expand. This year, she began selling earrings and bookmarks, and hired a public relations firm to help get her name out. She is also investigating partnerships with other keepsake-focused clothing and accessory companies. Further down the road, she aims to sell a wider array of non-customized pieces featuring uplifting words, for those in search of something fancy but more readily available.
But one part of Sincerely that will never change, no matter how much it grows, is Devack’s attention to each customer who turns to her company for keepsakes. “If you want trust from them, you have to be there for them.”
After all, she says, it’s how her father taught her to live.
Posted: June 15, 2018