"A new digital agency can help luxury brands bridge the gap between heritage and disruptive ideas"FORBES US article
Two former Cartier executives team up to collaborate! FORBES highlights our agency in an article by Anthony DeMarco, Senior Jewelry and Watch Contributor, FORBES US to whom we thank for his interest.
"A company that combines traditional consulting for luxury brands with a disruptive mentality. It brews the social mediathe web design, the brand development and business strategies for companies that produce both high-tech and traditional luxury products."
"We bring out innovative and disruptive ideas from the traditional market," explains Mariana Serban, founder of Elements Innovate, based in Paris, Nantes and with a correspondent in New York.
Mariana Serban is an established luxury entrepreneur who has had a varied cross-cultural career in France and Japan. She also has a strong background in international studies and business in Japan, and is a certified gemologist. Throughout her career, she has combined her intelligence and cultural know-how with a seemingly natural talent for sales.
After working in sales for Bulgari in Japan, she landed her dream job at Cartier and moved to Paris to work in sales of high jewelry at Cartier's flagship boutique on rue de la Paix. She sold fine jewelry to Cartier's private clients, earning the informal title of "top seller" for her exceptional sales. After eight years, she became director of fine jewelry sales at Graff and helped open the diamond brand's boutique in Place Vendôme. Since then, she has been a consultant, entrepreneur and educator.
"Mariana believes in building bridges," says de Quercize.
"We have a bridge between two generations and two genres. A bridge between technology and knowledge. That's his talent.
It creates great stories that create value for customers, for employees, for shareholders and for the planet. It's win, win, win, win.
"It was at Cartier that she met and worked with Stanislas de Quercize, whose eventful career has taken him to senior positions at Alfred Dunhill, Montblanc, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, brands owned by Richemont. He now sits on the board of directors of several luxury brands in Paris.
The pedigree of both is undeniable and both see the transformation of the luxury industry through the same prism. From social media to e-commerce to Web 3.0 and NFT, the cumulative effect on manufacturing, supply chains, marketing and sales of luxury goods has been profound and well documented."
"Working on this myriad of issues is perhaps why ELEMENTS Innovate has attracted such a diverse client base.
It includes WEMOOVE, which produces digital displays for luxury uses; the luxury jewelry and watch brand Piaget; the fine jewelry brand Yael Designs; 58 Facets, a jeweler that produces custom pieces; and Ferreira Gems, which specializes in the mining and distribution of Paraiba tourmalines."
"There was a time when luxury companies were at the forefront of technology and innovation (as an example, watches were once used to navigate the world at sea). Today, luxury brands have given up on this technical innovation. Serban and de Quercize say they intend to take it back. They describe the new venture as a multi-level bridge.
"Mariana believes in building bridges," says de Quercize. "We have a bridge between two generations and two genders. A bridge between technology and knowledge. That's her talent. She creates wonderful stories that create value for customers, for employees, for shareholders and for the planet. It's win, win, win, win.
"I think that's really what makes our story," Serban adds. "We've definitely added value for brands because we build bridges. We bring the expertise and the desire to make things better."
Transmission is a word both use a lot to describe how they see their roles. This includes products, brands and their place in the world.
"The idea is really to help move from a consumer society to a transmission society, from an old ecosystem to a new ecosystem," Serban says. "It's transmission, helping to develop something that has more meaning and more impact.
The issues they identify as changing the luxury economy, is certainly not news, but many luxury companies are still grappling with how to manage this change.
The first is pre-owned merchandise, or as they like to say, "pre-loved". Watches are already well ahead of the curve in this area. Swiss firm LuxeConsult reports that in 2022, pre-owned watch sales grew by 20 % over the previous year to $27 billion and are expected to surpass new watch sales within a decade.
"The two luxury veterans say jewelry offers huge opportunities and watches offer even more growth potential.
They claim that many of these items are stored in drawers and never used. De Quercize says he was behind Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels' decision to buy back their jewelry to resell as important heirlooms or to keep in their permanent collections. This created new markets for their vintage jewelry while using their permanent pieces for museum-quality exhibitions around the world.
"Right now, the trend is toward pre-owned, pre-loved," says de Quercize.
Other innovations for luxury brands are Web 3.0 metavers and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Again, recognizing these innovations as part of the future (and present) of the luxury industry is not new or revolutionary. However, few in the luxury world have found a way to take advantage of these advances.
"NFTs and Web 3.0 are generating a lot of interest in the luxury sector"says Mr. Serban. "As you know, we (e luxury) are at the forefront, so we have to show and support these trends. We are working on an NFT project that will be released in March."
M. De Quercize compares these digital innovations to the branches of a tree that extends the message of luxury brands in new ways.
"To me, NFTs are a fabulous new treasure because you can share it, you can buy it, and the Metaverse is a place where the branches of the tree spread further than the roots so that you can host events that are not just ephemeral and local, but eternal and universal."
Branching out is certainly a good thing in the age of digital communication and sales, but Ms. Serban, with her exceptional customer service experience for VIP clients, also notes the importance of a tree's roots.
"It's all about the customers," she says. "Brands need to know that. The world is moving and changing, but there has to be a balance. It's about human relationships.
I see brands that are very good online and on social media. But when it comes to real life, real consumption, or if it's just logistical issues, they don't know how to deal with it. They forget about the human touch. Sometimes you just pick up the phone and talk to the customer.
The new era is coming and how do we reconcile it with the old? From a practical standpoint, it's all about the customer. It's as simple as that."