When you think about the world's top rap artists, you probably don't necessarily think about the place where they get their jewelry. Sure, a lot of them have a tendency to wear loads of diamond-encrusted jewelry or gold chains. Sometimes they wear both. In addition, it isn't the least bit uncommon to see some of the most popular rap artists wearing a ring on practically every finger, all of them encrusted and diamonds and big enough to knock you out if you should be struck with one. At the same time, they usually have at least one diamond earring. The thing is, it wasn't until fairly recently that a lot of people started to become aware of exactly where they get all of this jewelry. As it turns out, the overwhelming majority of it comes from the same place, Atlanta, Georgia's Icebox Jewelry. In fact, this store has become known as the place to be for hip hop artists. It's become such a stalwart in the industry itself that most artists don't feel like they've really arrived until they can afford at least several pieces from the store.
As you might have guessed by now, the history behind the store is just as interesting as the fact that they have some of the most famous clientele in the world. The store itself has been there since 1976. Obviously, they have some staying power or they never would have made it this many years in business. Perhaps the story that everyone really wants to know is how they actually got started from absolutely nothing. There are a couple of different (and equally interesting) stories associated with this company. The first is that they did indeed start their business from absolutely nothing, not even a few extra dollars in a savings account to fall back on. After they became a well-established store, they started to cater to the hip-hop community, albeit decades later. That journey in and of itself is just as interesting as the way they got their start. In order to truly appreciate a story like this, you have to understand both of these stories. Some might even say that it’s all something that only fairy tales are made of, yet it's very much true. The fact that the store exists at all stands as a testament to that fact.
Making a Dream Come True
It's not the least bit uncommon to dream about starting your own business and having both the financial freedom and the literal freedom that a successful business can potentially provide. Unfortunately, a lot of people that have these dreams don't ever realize them because they're too afraid to go for it, so to speak. As a result, they frequently end up continuing to do jobs that don't inspire them, working for far less money than they're actually worth as opposed to going after what they truly want to do. In the case of the individuals that own Icebox Jewelry, the exact opposite was true. Back in the 1970s, they made the decision early on that they wanted to achieve something very specific and they set out to do exactly that. It was anything but easy. As a matter of fact, they didn't have a dime to their name when they started. They would drive around from one flea market to the next, all of them in the Atlanta area, selling silver in order to make ends meet. Money was so tight that they didn't even have a home to live in. As such, they were forced to live in their car. They would drive to whatever flea market they were selling at that weekend, make as much money as possible and then live in their car for the rest of the week until it was time to pack up and go to the next flea market. This wasn't something that they did for a couple of months, but something that required a significant amount of time and effort to correct. Eventually, they started making enough money to buy a house and then later on, a shop. As they made more money and expanded, they started selling gold jewelry and even buying and selling diamonds. Slowly, the business continued to grow. Today, they are considered the go-to store for massive gold chains and diamond encrusted jewels that the average individual could never even dream of affording. All in all, their story serves as proof that dreams really do come true. The difference between their success story and the stories of many others is that they had the determination to put themselves out there, work hard and do whatever was necessary in order to achieve success, even if that meant living in their car. While that's an extreme example, it does serve as proof that when you're willing to take calculated risks and work diligently, great things can and do happen.
The Hip-Hop Connection
When the store first started operating in 1976, it was more or less your typical high-end jewelry store. Hip-hop wasn't even considered a genre of music back then. However, things began to change and when they did, there were a couple of rap artists that lived in the area who routinely bought jewelry there because they could afford to do so. They were so impressed with the products that they started talking about this particular store and recommending it to their friends, who also just happened to be hip-hop artists. It wasn't long before the store became synonymous with the hip-hop industry itself, something that they are extremely well known for today. In fact, artists like Lil Yachty shop there all the time. This particular artist says that it's not uncommon to spend millions of dollars there in a single year.
A YouTube Channel?
Perhaps the thing that really surprises a lot of people that aren't involved in the hip-hop industry is that the store eventually started capitalizing on the fact that so many hip-hop artists were shopping there by developing their own YouTube channel in order to show the different artists and what they were purchasing. Even during the quarantine that occurred as a direct result of the pandemic, the store would open exclusively for artists like Gunna and then record the event on their YouTube channel, which currently has more than 864,000 subscribers. It's really quite interesting how they approach having this particular channel. Hip-hop artists that purchase jewelry from them are sometimes recorded doing different things in the store. Sometimes that involves getting a haircut, other times it involves sitting down and having a fairly intimate conversation about something that they might not otherwise be willing to talk about. In some cases, it even involves letting them have the run of the store to the point of unlocking the vault and letting them see what's inside. All the while, these encounters are recorded. More often than not, they are then published on the store's YouTube channel in 10 minute videos. Typically, about one video is posted each week. Store employees have admitted themselves that the videos have a tendency to be more intimate for those artists who are repeat customers or who spend a significant amount of money in the store as compared to what other individuals might be spending. The thing that's truly amazing about all of this is that the hip-hop artists themselves seem to be more than willing to allow the store owners to record these videos. In fact, the overwhelming majority of them appear to be more comfortable talking about things there than they are practically anywhere else. The same artist that might flip someone off who's trying to get an interview will sit down and pour out their heart and soul in the environment of this store, largely because they feel like it's a safe place to do so.
A Typical Business?
Somehow, Icebox Jewelry has managed to do something that very few businesses ever achieve. It has made a name for itself in a niche that is so well defined that practically everyone in the hip-hop industry knows who they are. At the same time, they're also a typical store with average business hours and anyone can simply walk in and purchase a piece, provided they can afford to purchase whatever they decide to buy. Perhaps the most interesting thing here is that they have different pieces of jewelry that cater to a large group of people. In some cases, the pieces are so expensive that you would have to be one of the top hip-hop artists in the world in order to even consider being able to afford it. In other instances, there are pieces of jewelry for sale that are much more economically priced, allowing someone to walk in and make a purchase without a great deal of fanfare. There's no doubt that the store owners have figured out how to walk this tightrope very well over the course of the last three years, which is about how long they've been operating their YouTube channel. In fact, some people even say that the store almost seems like two entirely different entities, even though it's all located in the same geographic location. There is a side of things that everyday customer see and then there is the exclusive side of things that only the richest customers such as hip-hop artists have access to.
Every Customer is Special
There's no doubt about it, every customer that walks into the store is treated like they are their favorite customer. After all, that is the first rule of business. In addition to that fact, there are a number of other things that make this particular family business so successful. For one thing, they don't just sell jewelry, they also buy it. In fact, the store currently buys gold jewelry along with gold watches and diamond jewelry that is over one carat. Perhaps the most important thing about this is that they have a tendency to pay a fair price. This keeps people coming back to the store, especially in a world where selling the same jewelry anywhere else would likely result in a fraction of the profits for the seller. When they're not selling jewelry (or buying it), they're making it. They have an entire section in the store for custom jewelry. As a result, you can find things there that you simply can't find anywhere else. They also evaluate inherited jewelry, giving people an accurate idea of how much their jewelry might be worth. When it comes to anything related to jewelry or the hip-hop industry, they seem to have all of their bases covered.
A Loyal Customer Base
There's no doubt about it, their customer base is loyal to a fault. Hip-hop artists have a tendency to stick together, largely because the overwhelming majority of them have experienced more than their fair share of discrimination throughout different periods in their lives. As such, they have a tendency to recommend things highly when they find something they like. Once someone in their community recommends a particular store or something similar, other members of the community tend to come out in droves in order to show their support. That's precisely what has happened here. As such, Icebox Jewelry probably has one of the most loyal customer bases in the world and they come by it all through honest, hard work. None of the individuals who started the company could have ever dreamed where things would eventually end up, but they're glad that they have the customer base that they have. It allows them to cater to an area of the public that most people never get to see on an intimate level and it also provides them with the financial security to ensure that they'll be around for many more years to come.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith