Vicenza, Italy. Sept. 13, 2020. The force behind the Nanis jewelry brand spent much of her pandemic lockdown time cooking and watching movies with her daughters, but she is joyful at the opportunity to return to work at this weekend’s Vicenzaoro VOICE fair. Bicego knows business won’t be at the same level as previous trade fairs, but the optimist in her is ever hopeful.
“I can’t but expect a positive feedback from VOICE,” she explains. “A lot of customers confirmed their participation, and I think that this is the first step of our ‘new normal,’ exploring a new way of meeting and doing business. In these times, we can no more only rely on physical shows as we did in the past, but I still believe in the power of these events, mostly for the opportunity they give you to meet your partners in person. This is the thing that I am missing the most in this pandemic.”
Bicego dives deeper into her take on the return to business in the following Q&A.
Jennifer Heebner: How did you and your family spend your time during lockdown?
Laura Bicego: I took advantage of the lockdown to slow down and, most of all, spent some time with my family! Luckily my two daughters were at home with me, while my son stayed in London, where he’s working. I must say that even if I was missing my job and my very busy routine, I came to realize how important it is to take some time off, enjoying the little things such as cooking a dinner (you must know that I love cooking!) or watching a movie with the people I love. At the very end of it I was really recharged, full of energy, and so inspired to get back to my first and biggest passion—jewelry!
JH: What have your retailer clients been telling you about business leading up to the fair?
LB: They, of course, told us about their huge desire to restart, to get back to the business, but I also feel a new awareness rising. I think that on a general level, we’ve all understood that we won’t get back to the pre-pandemic situation, and companies and retailers must work together to find new ways to cooperate, to inspire each other, and to get to the end consumers as never before. In a way, to get back to your question, retailers are asking companies to create new, innovative ways of doing business together, supporting each other in order to reach a common goal. We really need to team up!
JH: What does business in Italy look like now? Is it starting to pick up?
LB: Italy was harshly affected by the coronavirus, but I must say that I see clear signals of recovery. As a company, we also have a connection with our final customers, and I think that it is their enthusiasm, their desire to get back to a “new normal,” their will to “gift themselves” that is making the business powerfully starting again. I have the feeling that, after the lockdown, people realized how important it is to live and fully enjoy the present moment, focusing on the things that make us happy, that leave a trace, that lasts, and I think that jewelry perfectly embodies all these values.
JH: What are Italian jewelry collectors buying now in terms of looks, materials, and price points?
LB: We have different trends going on in Italy. One is the “safe” one, where retailers prefer to invest in traditional jewels, mostly in gold and diamonds or in very popular natural stones, such as the aquamarine, with a low/medium price point. These customers prefer to invest on something that they can sell every day. Besides that, we also have many customers that invest in more important and unconventional pieces, such as the ones coming from our Ivy collection, with its iconic necklace, which has turned into our most loved jewel ever. What we always push our customers to do is to have both kind of jewels in terms of price point, because nothing like the dream piece can help you also sell the less expensive jewels. It is our philosophy to meet the needs of all kinds of women, in terms of taste and economic possibilities.
JH: What are your U.S. accounts telling you now about business?
LB: As far as I see, America is still going through a hard time, which makes our accounts not willing to invest and buy as they did in the past. And on top of that, there’s the fact that we cannot travel there, which is of course a huge limit. But on the other hand, our American accounts tell us about a new consumer, who wants to buy more than ever (and more and more online), but not only that! It’s a consumer that prioritizes the values and the story behind the businesses, and who’s willing to spend money but that carefully chooses where doing so.
JH: What kind of Christmas season are you expecting in Italy and in the U.S.?
LB: I believe that this Christmas may serve us some nice surprises! As it won’t be possible to travel (or at least not as much as before), I expect that people will spend this holiday with their families, relatives, friends, and in general, with the people they care about. People will come together more, that is for sure one of the best consequences of this pandemic! And a side aspect of it is that there will be more gifts! And isn’t jewelry the best gift of all?
JH: Tell me about your newest jewelry collection.
LB: The name of our newest project is Morette, a fun and sweet Italian diminutive of mulberries (you must know that I give diminutives to everything, no exception!). This collection is really special because it blends the past and the present of our company. We’ve in fact revisited a particular collection that we used to do many years ago.
As a 30-year-old company, we cherish a lot of our archives, and we love to pick from them and revisit that creativity in a contemporary way, with modern tools and technology. Morette had such an interesting and passionate development, as we started from a flat design that we’ve turned into a tridimensional one, till reaching the beautiful, rounded shapes that distinguish this collection and that explains its name, as [the] jewels really recall mulberries!
The collection counts around 40 SKUs, and it’s varied in terms of design as we go from more important and really timeless jewels till more fancy and fresh pieces. This variety is of course also reflected in the price range of $800–$20,000. We want to touch a wide public, from the youngest till the more aged one, because wearing a jewel is a pleasure that every woman, regardless her age, should always enjoy!
Morette ring in 18k yellow gold with diamond accents, $1,710; email email@example.com for purchase
Morette drop earrings in 18k yellow gold with diamond accents, $1,740; email firstname.lastname@example.org for purchase
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