Babette Wasserman: The jewel behind the global brand

She survived the recession and believes pop-up shops are the future of retail


By Rosa Doherty, November 21, 2013
Follow Rosa on Twitter
Wasserman's collection will retail at pop up shops

Wasserman's collection will retail at pop up shops

When it comes to launching a top retail brand in London — innovation, social media and celebrities are key to success.

So goes the advice of top businesswoman Babette Wasserman, who launched her jewellery line over 15 years ago.

Before she launched “Babette Wasserman”, she spent her early twenties working in the industry. She suggests “making the mistakes in someone else’s business first” in order to get ahead.

“I tell everyone to learn things from others and take it with you.”

The 41-year-old’s collection is now up for Brand of the Year at the UK Jewellery Awards 2013.

She attributes her success to “being adaptable to change and doing something different”.

But Kensington-born Wasserman is modest. Her company, which saw a 10 per cent profit margin increase last year, boasts a strong consumer and celebrity following. .

Her men and women’s jewellery line — from necklaces to bracelets, cufflinks and earrings — is stocked internationally at 350 stores and boutiques, including: Harrods, Selfridges, John Lewis.

In the wake of the financial crises, which hit the retail industry particularly hard, her company continued to make profit. She says: “My company has been growing organically year on year despite the recession and bad economic situation.

Babette Wasserman

Babette Wasserman

“As a small company with no outside financial investment, we need to be clever in managing our finances.”

Speaking to the JC from her workshop in south-west London, Wasserman disclosed plans to unveil “pop-up shops” across the globe.

The increasingly popular method of retail has been employed by trend-setting businesses keen to monitor their market. Wasserman says the temporary stores, which can open for a weekend or month before moving on, would enable her to record consumer demand and response to her products.

“We have distributers in Japan and the Middle East and I want to open pop up shops there too,” adds Wasserman.

For a “high end brand”, Wasserman’s marketing methods are less conventional. She sees social media outlets, from Facebook to Twitter, as the focal and most “important” method of attracting fashion-conscious consumers.

But her interest in engaging with consumers through technology is not alien to Wasserman. She claims to have launched the “first interactive jewellery website in the UK.

“My friend told me the internet was going to be ‘a big thing’ and I should make my website interactive so people could buy the product online.

“You could hardly buy anything online at the time and my first order came through from Australia.”

The ongoing success of the Babette Wasserman line stems from the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design graduate’s innovative collection and celebrity following.

She capitalised on the underexplored men’s jewellery market in the 1990s —featuring stand out retro cameras and vintage cars on cufflinks.

She says the enthusiasm from celebrities — including footballer David Beckham, singer Cheryl Cole and the cast from the Channel 4 hit reality show Made in Chelsea — boosted her brand’s success.

Wasserman says: “When I started out other companies were making cufflinks but they all had very traditional torpedo backs.

“Having come from St Martins, I didn’t understand why people didn’t want to make the back as beautiful as the front because you see it just as much.”

“Celebrities definitely help sales,” she adds. “We always shout about our celebrity endorsements on our social media.

“Our followers love to know that they are wearing the same jewellery as celebrities.”

Today, Wasserman has retained a creative influence over the brand’s collection.

While she is committed to retaining creative control over the business, she focuses on the branding, marketing and plans for expansion.

She says: “I’m not sitting behind the bench making the jewellery myself.

“I’m employing workshops and factories to manufacture it.”

Last updated: 3:24pm, November 21 2013