LA-Based Startup Gemist Gets Backing from De Beers for Its DTC Jewelry App

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

Gemist

Online jewelry retailer Gemist announced it's received financial backing from De Beers Group Ventures, among other firms, to grow its "try-and-buy" model, which allows customers to design and test out pieces from home.

Founded in 2019 by CEO Madeline Fraser, the L.A.-based startup allows shoppers to customize rings and earrings on the website and wear them for up to two weeks before deciding to keep, tweak or send back their creations.


The recent seven-figure raise comes from both venture funds and strategic corporate partners like De Beers, a diamond company that shares Gemist's commitment to sustainability and ethically-sourced diamonds, Fraser said.

"We look at this as a corporate investment but really a partnership," she said. "We're going to be working together in more ways than just an investor-founder relationship as we grow."

Fraser got the idea for Gemist after designing her own engagement ring in 2018. At the time, jewelry seemed to her like one of the few industries that hadn't yet embraced customization options for online shoppers.

While the startup launched for bridal consumers, Fraser quickly realized the demand was broader. She introduced casual rings and earrings, and hinted to dot.LA that necklaces might be next.

The 29-year-old founder says her company will focus on scaling its digital platform and expanding the at-home try-on program. As COVID changes in-person shopping, Fraser hopes to bring customers a memorable retail experience from home. Retail isn't dead, she says. It just needs some reinvigorating.

"We're actually bringing the retail store to the consumer," Fraser said. "That's something I assume a ton of in-person retailers wish that they could do."

Since March, Gemist says they've seen an 80% jump in customers trying out their try-on plan.

"Retail isn't going to stay the same," Fraser said. "It's going to innovate, it's going to change. And that, I think, requires intimate connection with consumers — something people will actually come out of the house for."

With this deal, De Beers Group Executive Vice-President of Consumer and Brands Stephen Lussier will join the Gemist board.

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Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Inflation hit cities with tech-heavy workforces hard last year. Tech workers fortunate enough to avoid layoffs still found themselves confronting rising costs with little change in their pay.

Those national trends certainly touched down in Los Angeles, but new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the city of angels was the only major metro area that saw its wage growth grow by nearly 6% while also outpacing the consumer price index, which was around 5%. Basically, LA was the only area where adjusted pay actually came out on a net positive.

So, what does this mean for tech workers in LA County?

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https://twitter.com/samsonamore
samsonamore@dot.la

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors
Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash

The Inflation Reduction Act contains almost $400 billion in funding for clean energy initiatives. There’s $250 billion for energy projects. $23 billion for transportation and EVs. $46 billion for environment. $21 billion for agriculture, and so on. With so much cash flowing into the sector, the possibilities for investment and growth are gigantic.

These investment opportunities, however, have typically been inaccessible for everyday retail investors until much later in a company’s development–after an IPO, usually. Meaning that the best returns are likely to be captured by banks and other institutions who have the capital and financing to invest large sums of money earlier in the process.

That’s where Pasadena-based Energy Shares comes in. The company wants to help democratize access to these investment opportunities and simultaneously give early-stage utility-scale energy projects another revenue stream.

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Why These Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Are Making LA Their Home

Aisha Counts
Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
Why These Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Are Making LA Their Home
Joey Mota

Fleeing war and chasing new opportunities, more than a dozen Ukrainian entrepreneurs have landed in Los Angeles, finding an unexpected community in the city of dreams. These entrepreneurs have started companies that are collectively worth more than $300 million, in industries ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to audience monetization platforms to social networks.

Dot.LA spent an evening with this group of Ukrainian citizens, learning what it was like to build startups in Ukraine, to cope with the unimaginable fear of fleeing war, and to garner the resilience to rebuild.

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