FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
It has been over two years since Canadian Jeweller Magazine spotlighted Lotus Jewellery and a lot has changed for this innovative brand. We reconnected with owner Robert Smith to talk about his company’s latest developments and creations.
by Maya Akbay
Today, Lotus Jewellery has expanded to carry several different brands under its belt and for Smith, it’s very important that each brand fills a separate niche.
“We have four jewellery designers whose main job is to come up with the designs for the brands as we try to stay fresh and create new designs all the time,” says Smith.
The Canadian jewellery distribution company may be best known for Kameleon, a fun and innovative line that offers interchangeable jewellery in the form of JewelPops. JewelPops are conveniently created in one size so that the wearer can easily pop them in and out for different looks.
“We’re now working with manufacturers to create JewelPops strictly out of stone and no metal material whatsoever,” explains Smith. “And we just introduced some all-murano glass JewelPops.” Kameleon is also currently working on developing all-synthetic pearl JewelPops. The goal for the brand, which transcends across all of the other Lotus lines, is to stay fresh with new designs, offer quality products, and keep a good price point.
And let’s not forget GemDrops. Born out of Kameleon, this line is not completely interchangeable yet but highly appealing to jewellery and gift stores looking to offer pieces that are of “higher perceived value.” GemDrops designs include Swarovski crystals and natural stones and sometime this summer, fans of the line can expect to see a brand new display and packaging format.
For those in favour of something a little more Canadian, Lotus offers ICE925 – a collection of unique designs featuring Canadian diamonds.
Like the other brands under the Lotus umbrella, ICE925 has its own in-house designer that conceptualizes this collection.
“What we are trying to show people is that what they’re getting from Lotus is designed in-house, so it’s all unique,” says Smith. “That’s right across our entire portfolio of lines.” The designs for this brand include Canadian diamonds, sterling silver, and rhodium-plated pieces.
Another personal favourite for Smith is the Mirage Collection from Lotus. The two-toned look of the designs sets the line apart from the others and applies to a very specific niche for those searching for a unique look.
“I just like the look of the jewellery,” he says. “I think we’ve got a dynamite set-up there in terms of display and packaging.”
In order to put more focus on gift stores, Lotus released Boudicca – a Celtic-inspired line that was conceived last year. It was important for Smith and his team of designers to come up with fresh and unique designs for this latest collection.
“And believe me, that’s hard to do with Celtic,” says Smith. “There are certainly a lot of east coast influences with that line. Right now, there’s Celtic motifs of fish… it’s turning out to be a popular little line for us.” The secret for Boudicca’s success so far lies in the brand’s affordable pricing and an ability to offer a combination of original and unique design elements.
So what is the secret to running not one but five successful brands? For Smith, it’s been all about coming up with unique ideas, bringing them to life, and staying on the right track. He distinctly remembers coming up with the idea of interchangeable jewellery back in 2005 and from there it took roughly two years for the concept to develop into what is now JewelPop.
“We demonstrated it and then it was just a matter of doing some more tests and rolling up the sleeves… because obviously every JewelPop has to sit in every piece of jewellery, which is not an easy thing to do when you’re casting metal,” says Smith. JewelPop was introduced to the public at an Atlanta jewellery show, a major show in North America, and quickly sold 50 opening orders. From there, it was a steady climb.
Smith’s initial entry into the jewellery world was spontaneous and unexpected. It happened about 21 years ago during a trip to Mexico with his wife when he decided to bring some silver jewellery back to Canada and sell it to a man who eventually became his partner. While working on his wholesale jewellery business, Smith saw a demand for interchangeable jewellery and the closest thing to the concept at the time were mainly magnetic pieces that failed to offer a “high-end” look.
“I knew that if we created something of good quality and a nice design, that it would be successful,” says Smith. “And that has proven to be true.”
Today, Smith is still working on his firm goal of expanding overseas by securing more financial backing. His company has already had success south of the border and he is hoping for the same in Europe and Australia.
In addition to all of this, Smith tells us that he is planning on launching a brand new line for both women and men in the next six to 12 months – a development that’s bound to be yet another success for Lotus Jewelry’s ever-growing collection of brands. CJ