Somewhere among the mayhem that is JCK planning, I was fortunate to carve out time on Rosa Tous’s calendar to talk JCK Las Vegas, bridge jewelry, and uncover more about her family’s brand. TOUS is a jewelry and accessory company with presence on five continents, 500+ stores, and Rosa stands at the forefront as the company’s corporate vice president. Gemologist by profession, Rosa studied at the GIA in Los Angeles and is currently a member of JORGC, the official association for jewelers, goldsmiths, and gemologists of Catalonia. Rosa began to work in the family business in the ’90s, when the brand began to expand internationally. She was in charge of creating the marketing and communications area in TOUS and is now a key driver behind the new initiatives in this field as well as in training.
TOUS is exhibiting at JCK Las Vegas 2016 in our new Bridge Neighborhood and after reading this interview, you’ll soon understand my excitement. JCK is less than one month away, register to attend today.
Your family business was founded in 1920 in Barcelona, and you are approaching your centennial with the third generation of the TOUS family at the helm. What is the key to finding success in a family business and continuing the entrepreneurial spirit?
It is clear that the most important thing is to maintain the will to establish an enduring business for our family’s future generations. Although it is true that working with family has its advantages, sometimes it is difficult to separate our business from our personal lives. Despite this challenge, we never neglect our responsibility to our customers and the more than 2,000 TOUS employees worldwide. My parents are the perfect role models. They have been working together for more than 50 years with my father in management and my mother as creative director. They have endowed my sisters and me with the passion and the vision they have for the company. It is this legacy that makes us well suited to assume the roles of corporate vice chairwoman and director of R&D, respectively.
Combining state-of-the-art technology with traditional craftsmanship is part of your vocation and tradition. Can you elaborate on this?
We have been jewelers since 1920, but innovation is also part of our DNA. Of course, we work with the usual fine materials of gold, silver, diamonds, and natural gemstones. However, over the years we have incorporated nontraditional materials into our collections with great results. We have combined titanium and yellow gold with natural woods, methacrylate and other cutting-edge materials that allow us to create very original pieces for our customers. Technologically speaking, jewelry fabrication has evolved tremendously, and although it continues to be an absolutely artisanal process, 3-D scanners and printers have been incorporated into the creative process to perfect and accelerate the production of the initial samples. We are true to our tradition as jewelers, but at TOUS, innovation is not a department: it is an attitude that should be reflected throughout the entire process of creating any piece of jewelry.
The TOUS brand symbol is the teddy bear. What is the meaning behind this?
The TOUS bear was born in 1985, at the hands of my mother, Rosa Oriol. In her travels that year, she saw a teddy bear in a window display that brought back some of her fondest childhood memories. The tenderness that the teddy bear conveys is universal, and it is thanks to him that TOUS is widely recognized as a fun, tender and young-in-spirit brand.
What is your favorite piece in your collection right now?
Any piece that portrays our iconic teddy bear. It faithfully represents our brand values and continues to be present in many of our pieces, and it represents more than 50 percent of the overall sales. The tenderness it conveys is universal.
Bridge jewelry has grown rapidly over the last decade. What opportunities does this provide for the future of TOUS?
TOUS has always been an affordable luxury/bridge jewelry brand. In the 1980s, my mother started to design her own jewelry that was fresh and new, filled a void in the marketplace, and attracted a wide range of consumers. TOUS continues to be known for unique jewelry of quality and value. We distance ourselves from traditional jewelry brands and have firmly established ourselves as a leader in this new market concept.
Where are your production facilities? Can you tell us more about the product development and production process?
TOUS is distinguished by its high level of vertical integration. From the inspiration, R&D, and production of each item, to the distribution, retail sales, and after-sales service, we directly oversee all processes and details at our Manresa headquarters. A high percentage of our production is carried out on our own 40,000- square-foot workshop in Sabadell, Spain, a city just outside of Barcelona. Furthermore, we rely on affiliate workshops around the world. All of this allows us to have a production capacity of almost 3 million units a year. World-class production capacity and an efficient product development process allows us to launch many collections in a timely manner.
Gwyneth Paltrow is the face of your 2016 advertising campaign. What about Gwyneth drew your brand to her, and how does she help elevate your brand identity?
Gwyneth Paltrow has many qualities that we consider to be closely relatable to our brand. We are certain that our clients will identify with her and will love the campaign images. She is an attractive and intelligent woman, a talented actress, and she also conveys a tender persona. She is a person who fits perfectly with our brand values: She is warm, fun, and has a young spirit.
This is your first time exhibiting at JCK Las Vegas, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome you into our community. What went behind that decision?
As a leading brand in our segment, we are present at the most important jewelry and accessory trade shows in the world, and the United States has become a key market for us. It made perfect sense to participate in JCK Las Vegas as it is a very important way to establish ourselves in this market. In addition, our partnership with U.S.-based ELV Distribution made the timing right to launch at JCK.
What is the inspiration for your jewelry collections?
Every season, we design each of the collections based on a different creative concept. This year, we are focusing on our heritage. Our heritage has inspired our future. The inspiration for our collections represents a look back at our beginning as a brand and at our most iconic designs. Our objective was to update them with new materials and refresh the original design concepts.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you could give to an emerging bridge brand?
The most important advice would be to believe in yourself. If you have a clear idea and believe in it, work, work, and work to make it a prosperous one. Be true to it.
Who is your jewelry muse and why?
Without a doubt, Rosa Oriol, my mother, is the person I most admire in the jewelry industry. She has both a special talent and a unique sensitivity. She is a self-taught woman who, at the young age of 20, started to design jewelry, which immediately garnered great success among members of the public. Together with my father, they created a perfect union and established the TOUS we know today. I always say that my father, due to his entrepreneurial vision, was the head; and my mother, due to her creativity, was the heart. She was the one who, in 1985, in her travels, caught sight of a teddy bear in a shop window that reminded her of the endearing moments of her childhood. She thought, “Why not make it in gold?” The bear marked the beginning of our expansion, and it is always present in our designs. My mother has always had a great vision.
Is there anything that you would like to see changed in the jewelry industry?
I believe that due to new technologies, the jewelry industry is slowly but surely evolving but still preserves the jewelry traditions that define us. It is a combination that allows us to create new designs, more efficient production processes, and a better product for our clients without detracting from our craft or the excellence and the respect that goes along with it.
Where do you see the brand in 10 years?
At the moment, we are a global presence with more than 500 points of sale. Our business plan is based on consolidation, growth, and international expansion. We can be optimistic about the future. Our mission is to make TOUS the most successful and desired jewelry brand in the world. Therefore, we will continue to work hard to achieve our goal by giving the company the flexibility that it requires for rapid growth.
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