Neiman Marcus, Stanley Korshak, and Forty Five Ten are illustrious retail nameplates in Dallas—and the fashion industry at large. But there’s another local retailer that’s also famed among the cognoscenti, if not quite as well known in its hometown.
Ylang 23 is one of the nation’s most respected retailers of designer jewelry. The diminutive boutique, which sells stylish adornments from a $14.50 silk lace bracelet to $35,500 diamond and sapphire earrings, stocks a forward mix and is known for cultivating fresh talent.
“The moment you enter a relationship with Ylang 23, the entire jewelry industry takes note,” says Megan Thorne, a young designer in Fort Worth. “Joanne is considered such an authority that having her approval is a real shot of legitimacy to any company, especially a small designer studio such as mine.”
Joanne would be Joanne Teichman, the tastemaker who runs the business with her retail-savvy husband, Charles. In April 2013, JCK magazine and trade shows named Joanne to its Power List of “50 gems who are simply indispensable to the industry,” dubbing Ylang 23 the “holy grail” of retail accounts for young designers. Also on the roster: the CEOs of De Beers, Harry Winston, Zale, and other jewelry titans. In May, the Women’s Jewelry Association nominated Joanne for a retail excellence award.
“This has been a magical year,” she says. “What I’m proudest of is my reputation for taking an interest in young designers and mentoring them. A lot of retailers just look at ‘what’s gonna make me the most money.’ They don’t understand these young designers won’t make money for the next couple of years, but they are great and worth spending some time developing.”
February 7, 2014, augured another dramatic moment, when the Teichmans were scheduled to relocate their store from its longtime home at Galleria Dallas to bigger, 1,915-square-foot digs at the Plaza at Preston Center. The move brings the sparkling collection of jewels by Cathy Waterman, Irene Neuwirth, Jennifer Meyer, and 59 other designers into the backyard of loyal clients in Highland Park and Preston Hollow.
“We’re hoping to grow the local business by being closer to customers on a regular basis,” says Charles. Sales are already impressive—nearly $8 million in 2013—all funneled through just 1,100 square feet at the Galleria.
A key driver of Ylang 23’s tremendous volume is e-commerce, which the couple launched in 2000 and now racks up the majority of sales. The company ships jewelry to more than 100 countries, promoting the business via widespread social media and a billboard in New York City.
The couple thinks the website could get another boost with the recent hiring of their daughter, Alysa, who will leverage her experience developing the Internet business for lifestyle fashion brand Jack Rogers.
“She has skills beyond my skills,”’ says Joanne. “We’re giving her a lot of freedom and autonomy because we know what she’s done online, which was like doubling [Rogers’] sales.”
With more case space in the new spot at the Plaza, the couple will increase their selection of alternative bridal jewelry—rings with creative metalwork and sometimes unusual stones, such as unfaceted raw diamonds that often appear grey-ish. They will continue to host prominent designers such as Waterman, an acclaimed, reclusive jeweler who visits every December with a trunk of treasures.
Unlike many retailers of precious jewelry, Ylang 23 for the most part doesn’t request merchandise on consignment. “We buy wide and deep and pay on time,” Joanne says.
Charles, who manages the business, jokes that his job is to keep his wife on a budget.
The Paris-born attorney helped run clothing stores in France before relocating to New York in 1979 as a retail consultant. (“I grew up watching The Lone Ranger, and always thought I could live in the U.S.,” he says.)
He met Joanne, who has a journalism degree and was working as an advertising account executive, on March 23, 1980, and asked for her hand in marriage on April 23. They wed on Nov. 23 of the same year. (Yes, that’s where Ylang “23” comes from.)
The couple moved to Dallas in 1985 to build trendy, Ylang-Ylang costume and high-end jewelry stores here and in Houston as a joint venture with a French partner. The economy was booming, and they felt North Texas would be a good place to raise children.
In 1988, the Teichmans took full ownership of the Galleria store in exchange for their shares in the Houston unit, but the economic downturn of the period was so rough they almost lost the business. “We hung on by our fingernails,” Charles says.
Then, in 1991, Joanne says, “we decided to go high end, and we never looked back.”