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Nadja Swarovski

A Multifaceted Product

Editors’ Note

Nadja Swarovski grew up in Wattens in the Austrian Tyrol, the town where her great-great-grandfather Daniel Swarovski founded Swarovski Crystal in 1895. Swarovski is one of seven family members to work in the company. She studied art history, foreign languages, and gemology, and joined the family firm in 1995 after working in fashion public relations in New York for Valentino, Geoffrey Beene, Missoni, and Trussardi. In eight years working in Hong Kong, New York, and London, Swarovski has revitalized the brand’s image, drawing on its legacy and updating it by forging links with modern trendsetters.

Company Brief

Swarovski (www.brand.swarovski.com), based in the village of Wattens, Tyrol in Austria, is run by fourth and fifth generation family members, and has some 22,000 employees and a presence in over 120 countries. Swarovski comprises two major businesses: one producing and selling loose crystal elements to the industry and the other creating design-driven finished products. Swarovski’s own brand lines of accessories, jewelry, and home decor are sold through more than 1,300 Swarovski stores and concessions in all major fashion capitals, while the exclusive Daniel Swarovski accessories collection has become the company’s couture signature. The Swarovski corporation also includes Tyrolit® grinding tools, Swareflex road safety reflectors, and Swarovski Optik precision optical instruments.

Are you happy with the brand positioning of Swarovski today, and what is your outlook for growth when you look at the challenges we’re currently seeing in the market?

Having worked in the business for 15 years, it has amazed me how the brand has evolved, and that the perception of quality that we’ve worked so hard to convey seems to be understood by the general public. We have always said that our product is truly multifaceted – no pun intended – and as multifaceted as that product is, so is the customer base. This gives us a unique advantage in the current economic climate to reach out to a broad spectrum of people and provide them with a luxurious yet affordable product.


Designed by Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen for Swarovski’s Crystal Palace series in 2003, the Cascade Chandelier (left) pours 128 inches from the ceiling and weighs 661 pounds; Designed by Tord Boontje for the Crystal Palace series, the Blossom Chandelier (right) is available in several sizes.

Is the collection where you want it to be today, and do you see additional extensions and natural areas that you might broaden into?

We definitely see additional extensions. The sky is the limit. Many people in various industries have used our product. These are the businesses that we supply, but within our own consumer brand, we can also touch upon these areas. There is discussion on whether we should create our own fashion collection and the possibility of expanding our entire tabletop product arena further into the executive and corporate gift area. We’re moving into the fragrance arena. Every big brand has its fragrance, and it’s way overdue for Swarovski after playing around with the idea for the past 15 years. We also just purchased one of our largest clients in North America, which is a chandelier manufacturing company called Schonbek, located in upstate New York. With that company in our portfolio, we certainly see a growth and expansion in the lighting market. With the Swarovski Crystal Palace Collection, we’ve created a lot of cutting-edge chandeliers using leading high-profile designers. These chandeliers have allowed us to enter into the architecture and design arena. The fact that we are working with very renowned artists and individuals has given our product and our brand name increased credibility, and has demonstrated how creatively crystals can be used in a very modern way, thus helping to modernize the brand perception.

What markets do you see offering the greatest opportunities to build the business?

Our market is the strongest in Europe, because our heritage is in Europe. And it’s also more prevalent in Europe in terms of our retail stores, which always provide the best direct contact with the consumer. On the same token, we see tremendous growth in all the emerging markets, including India and China. The current economic crisis is a challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity for Swarovski, because we can offer the customer a product that he or she can afford – namely a jewelry collection that has the splendor of a diamond collection, but not the same price point.

Do you foresee an expansion of the number of individual Swarovski boutiques?

Absolutely. Swarovski already counts 1,600 boutiques, and these are the key consumer touch points for experiencing the brand. Our new retail design concept has been unveiled in our flagship store in Ginza, Tokyo and also rolled out in London, Boston, and Hong Kong. Created by the much admired Japanese designer, Tokujin Yoshioka, they showcase the Swarovski collections in a unique space, which allows consumers to immerse themselves into the world of Swarovski.

Is technology impacting the way both design and production takes place, or is the focus on handcraftsmanship still critical at the end of the day?

Absolutely. Technology impacts everything, and has been one of Swarovski’s greatest strengths from day one. My great-great-grandfather invented the ultimate crystal-cutting machine, and through this extraordinary contribution to technology, Swarovski has been able to create a product that has touched so many people. Today, continued research into new technologies and quality of the stones have contributed towards Swarovski’s renowned reputation for quality and workmanship.

Did you ever question early on whether you would go into the business, or did you always know this was what you wanted to do?

When I was a child, I felt a very strong affinity towards the company and the product. Growing up on the doorstep of Swarovski headquarters gave me a unique insight into the business, but I knew from an early age that I wanted to discover the world and develop my own interests and passions. I went to the U.S. to study art history and foreign languages and was fortunate enough to work with renowned fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert in New York. This experience led me to realize the full scope of Swarvoski’s amazing heritage and contribution to fashion. That was the trigger for me to step back into Swarovski and give something from my perspective; by returning to our roots and to the days when my grandfather worked with Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. I felt very strongly about first getting to know myself, and then being able to step in with a very strong idea and strong contribution.