It has been 10 years since Severine Ferrari started Engagement 101:10 years at the forefront of proposal planning, 10 years of inspiring men on how to propose, 10 years of inspiring couples on choosing from a vast array of designer engagement rings, and 10 years of being an inspiration and a trailblazer. Through her magazine, Engagement 101, “the engagement” has become memorable. For some who have no clue on how to “do it” Severine has given them ideas. For those who are living together and are thinking of getting married, she has developed a website with the biggest selection, to date, of designer bridal jewelry. She is a favorite of our industry and it is always a pleasure to see her at trade shows.
Josette: What was the inspiration behind Engagement101?
Severine: I was the first bridal fashion editor to go to the JCK show in Las Vegas in the ’90s for Wedding Dresses Magazine. While, at the time, most of the engagement rings sold were replicas of the Tiffany setting and a little bit of filigree, I discovered so many new bridal jewelry designers that I decided it was my mission to share their most beautiful rings with our readers. I created a pullout section in the magazine which I eventually named Engagement 101. Our editorial team also started sharing proposal stories and giving engagement planning tips. However, the problem back then was that most of the girls were not involved in the process of selecting the engagement ring. A majority of them were already engaged when they picked up a bridal publication. So we decided 10 years ago to publish Engagement 101 as a standalone magazine supported by a website and social media.
Josette: Your place in the publishing world is very specific to the engagement and the buying of the ring. Your trend and market analysis are always on target. In your opinion how many women are involved in choosing their rings? Do you think it is the same when it comes to same sex marriages?
Severine: According to our research most of the women are involved in some way or another in picking the engagement ring. Social media made the process of letting your man know what you’d like so much easier. There are still women that do not want to address the issue in a straight forward manner, but they can “subtlety” like pictures or articles. This will get noticed by friends, family and the boyfriend or girlfriend in the case of same-sex couples. Now that it is the right of every woman to get married to a man or a woman, the focus is going to switch from just the wedding to also a proper engagement and proposal. We look forward to share more romantic same-sex proposal stories. Our platform is first for ladies in waiting, but we are developing more content for same-sex male couples.
Josette: You have close to 1 million fans on social media and more following every month. Some of these followers, have asked you for guidance on how to propose, some have sent you their stories and their ideas to publish. How connected are you to those couples?
Severine: We are very connected with a team that’s on almost 24/7! We get private messaged questions from men about to propose and women about to get engaged. We chat a lot on social media and on our site with our community. Couples are super excited to share their engagement pictures and proposals on Engagement 101 as soon as they get engaged. It is such a horrible job to have to talk with people in love and look at diamonds all day! (Wink!) We like to challenge men to work on meaningful proposals and get their gal her dream ring.We were on the forefront of making the proposal an event almost as important as the wedding itself. We are still very proud of that. Proposal planners and engagement session photographers got the idea to create a business model dedicated to the proposal by partly looking at Engagement 101.
Josette: Besides giving advice on how to get engaged you have a great sense of the product that each bridal jewelry designer offers. Was it natural for you to think of branding the bridal designers in your magazine, something that was never done before?
Severine: I believe in design, originality and brands. It’s always a better investment to get a well-crafted product than a knockoff. Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford it all the time but when it comes to something you are going to wear forever and pass along to other generations, it’s time to open your wallet a little bit wider. Some people say, I’d rather buy a house. I believe an engagement ring is also real estate. Real estate that is very meaningful to a couple and the family they are about to create. So as long as a designer is original and has impeccable service, we want our audience to know and understand who they are and what they do. It is necessary for the consumer not to be fooled by lookalike products. So we try hard to communicate this to our audience. Our ladies have to be specific if they like a designer. It’s not only about the ring itself but also who makes it.
Josette: You were the first one to reach out to Michael O’Connor, the jewelry stylist, to interview those designers. How did you get the idea to connect the designers to the consumer directly?
Severine: Michael is a long time friend and does amazing job interviewing jewelry designers as he is a fan of jewelry himself. Seeing the face behind the rings and close-ups of the pieces in motion is another tool to help our readers find their dream ring, understand how engagement rings are made and to give them a lot of buying tip. We started producing webisodes 8 years ago following the advice and the help of my boyfriend, director James Merendino.
Josette: How do you feel about being the best authority on engagement?
Severine: Staying the best is hard work, as after a while, people start to emulate your ideas and it can get frustrating. Yet it is really rewarding to have been at the forefront of a new movement and to see the results daily as Engagement 101 couples get engaged, marry and have kids. It’s a beautiful thing to be in the business of making people happy and sharing the love.
Josette: 10 years is a long stretch with lots of memories and special features. What were some of those most memorable moments? What are your plans for the next 10 years?
Severine: Our first stand-alone print issue was a proud moment. The launch of our website and community pages was very rewarding as we started chatting live with our readers.
Our engagement scoop with Bethenny Frankel on our cover was fun. Our rebranding with the collaboration of illustrator Anne Keenan Higgins really helped us communicate the romance and sparkle of Engagement 101. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years! The plan for the
next 10 years is to embrace the new ways committed relationships are going to evolve and support them with our editorial content. It is to keep on finding clever ways for our designers to present their creations and connect with someone who will like what they do and wear
their engagement ring for a lifetime.
To order the 2016 Anniversary issue of Engagement 101 please click on the link below: