The CEO of quinessential Spanish luxury jewellery house Carrera y Carrera, Svetlana Kuprianova speak to CPP-LUXURY.COM exclusively about the exceptional success of the brand and what inspires future development. The interview is part of CPP-LUXURY.COM two month series dedicated to Luxury Made in Spain.
How has your company performed in 2013 and what are your expectations?
2013 was one of the best years in the long history of Carrera y Carrera. We focused on our core values and reassessed our product mix in line with conversations with our retail partners and customers. The company is in excellent financial health, our people are hugely motivated and ambitious for the future. My expectation for 2014 is that it will be even better than 2013, we are well positioned to grow and achieve even greater things. It will be an exciting year for us.
Which were the highlights of 2013 in terms of product launches and retail expansion?
2013 was the year we got ourselves re-organised and we established a number of new, potentially very important partnerships. We are good people to do business with and, just as one example; our new retail partners in the Philippines are promoting Carrera y Carrera to an emerging market that allows us to take advantage of our Spanish history as well as our excellent range of different products and lines.
What are your best performing international markets and which markets do you target for further expansion?
Our most important marketplace is Russia, or rather Russians. They know and trust the Carrera y Carrera brand and appreciate how beautiful and special our work is. Russians are not just important customers in Russia but they buy Carrera y Carrera even when they are traveling.
We do not rush into new markets, our position in relation to the other big jewellery brands means that our customers are typically more discerning and expert. This means that there is no particular advantage to our investing huge amounts in new markets. We know that over time customers will seek out more distinctive and interesting items of jewellery that Carrera y Carrera is uniquely positioned to create.
Our plans for 2014 are very clear. We are going to actively develop new partnerships in Asia and Latin America. We are particularly focused on developing our distribution in China, where consumers are starting to place more value on individuality and uniqueness as a way of expressing their personality. This fits perfectly our market position. Carrera y Carrera’s Spanish roots make Latin America an obvious choice for development.
How many mono-brand boutiques do you have? What is your view on mono-brand retail versus wholesale?
As I mentioned earlier our strengths are not in being the first to open up new markets. We are, after all much smaller than our biggest competitors. But, over time, the quality of our work and our obsessive attention to detail wins us a lot of very passionate customers. This is one of our real strengths and is something that increasingly extends beyond pieces of jewellery and into the complete customer experience. Our new website is an example of this.
We have just two showrooms in Spain, one in Madrid and the other in Barcelona. Of course we are interested in retail because it allows us direct contact with customers, but Carrera y Carrera are creators of fine jewellery, we are not retailers. I don’t expect that to change, maybe that is why we always put so much emphasis on being good and fair partners with our retailers and distributors. If we were focused on our own retail outlets they might not enjoy working with us as much.
Which are the DNA elements that define Carrera y Carrera as a Spanish brand?
We have been very careful to balance the traditional and historical ideas of “Spanishness” with the light, fun, creative way of life that many people know from tourism. Our Spanish “DNA” is reflected in the real and well informed passion for beauty and fine art that is associated with this wonderful, historic and exciting country. It is important to recognise that there is much more to celebrate about Spanish culture than guitars, Rioja and paella.
The tradition of working with gold and silver in Spain goes back over 500 years to the Spanish conquest of the Americas. These conquests and all their associated wars and troubles were largely driven by the European obsession with gold. Of course, now all the gold and precious stones that Carrera y Carrera use comply with the latest ethical, social, and environmental codes, but the connection between Spain, international trade and fine jewellery is deeper and longer lasting than any other nation. It would be wrong to try to become an “international” company without any values beyond “new” and “shiny”. We are a very Spanish company with a very international outlook.
How is your Spanish heritage reflected in your products and communications?
As well as having deep and strong Spanish roots Carrera y Carrera operates in a complex, fashion conscious and fast changing international market place. This is why we still depend on the values and stories associated with our team of craftsmen and designers.
Despite our Spanish roots our communications strategy needs to reflect our international customers. We communicate our heritage and expertise to them but not necessarily in Spanish nor with any particular reference to modern Spain. Our stories are more nuanced, romantic and universal. That makes them easy to understand in different languages and in different cultures.
For example our new collection was inspired by a romantic story about a young Chinese princess called Liu-Tsu. She dropped her silk shawl (“mantilla” in Spanish) into the ocean. Later a Spanish ship’s captain found it took it back to Seville where it became a wonder and started a tradition of beautifully hand-crafted embroidered shawls that continues to this day. We felt inspired by this story, the connection between East and West, craft and adventure, romance and beauty. These values are exactly the ones we associate with Carrera y Carrera and the exquite jewellery we produce. We will have some simply beautiful shawls from Seville on display at our stand at Baselworld this year.
What are the most effective communication channels? What is your view on social media for high end luxury jewellery?
Since the very start of the company over 100 years ago, Carrera y Carrera’s reputation has been built upon personal recommendations. We have never been, and probably never will be, a mass market brand that uses mass media. We have started experimenting with social media, and I think it is fair to say that we have found it slightly difficult to get the tone of voice exactly right.
However, we are increasingly convinced that social media takes us back to the most powerful marketing that exists: personal recommendations, personal connections and endorsements by people that you admire and trust. That has always been Carrera y Carrera’s biggest advantage, so in many ways it is “back to the future”.
Our customers are great enthusiasts for our products. Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterst, Youtube and all the other social networks allow us to communicate our values and the stories associated with our products directly to our customers and potential customers. But it does depend on getting the delicate balance between corporate messages about, for example, new products, and stories and links that are not directly connected with the company yet manage to engage our followers with our passion for art, creativity and design. This is one of the challenges that our marketing and communication department will have to face over the next years.
Do you have any plans to diversify your brand? (ex. sunglasses, watches etc)
We already produce a range of very beautiful watches that have proved very popular with our customers. Every few weeks I get asked if Carrera Y Carrera would like to enter into joint branding deals for sunglasses, perfume, lingerie and even suncream!
Carrera y Carrera is quite a traditional company, we want to focus on doing what we do really well. If we do decide to explore new areas of business we will do it very carefully. We are in no hurry to rush into commercial arrangements with partners who don’t share our obsession with art, beauty and craft.
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