By Bernardette Sto. Domingo
Hearts On Fire President Caryl Capeci sits down with JNA to talk about combatting challenges in the ever-evolving diamond jewellery industry, the company’s role in promoting women empowerment and offering products that resonate with today’s forward-looking consumers.
Caryl Capeci, the woman behind Hearts On Fire’s successful marketing campaigns and business strategies, cuts a fine figure in the diamond jewellery circle. In an exclusive interview, she talks about the future of the company amid a fast-changing environment.
Please describe Hearts On Fire’s position in the international jewellery market.
Caryl Capeci: Hearts On Fire is known for its perfectly cut diamonds. Our diamonds simply sparkle more brilliantly than any other diamonds in the world and that is why women from Hong Kong to Taiwan and New York fall in love with our jewellery designs and our brand.
What is HOF doing to attract millennials and Gen Z? How different are these consumers from their predecessors?
Capeci: We always lead with a consumer-first mind set, and millennials and Gen Z are a critical part of our business and growth strategy. Understanding the way they shop and do their research is extremely important. These digital-first consumers are always on the move and influenced by authentic personalities. While their predecessors would go to local jewellery stores and learn about jewellery from across the counter – salesperson to consumer – these younger buyers research their purchases before they even cross the store threshold.
To further engage with this group of buyers, we are partnering with wedding dress designer Hayley Paige, who is a powerhouse in the bridal industry. She has a following of around 800,000 on Instagram alone, comprising primarily female millennials and Gen Z. Her followers range from brides-to-be to married women. HOF and Hayley are co-creating a collection of diamond bands and engagement rings. The partnership extends HOF’s reach to a large group of this highly engaged audience.
How would you assess 2018 in terms of business challenges and gains?
Capeci: Our business was quite strong in 2018. We were particularly impressed with the continued growth in greater China. Taiwanese women have been staunch supporters of HOF for over 15 years but the response of women in Hong Kong and China to our brand has been very encouraging. Globally, we have seen strong sales in larger diamonds. In fact, the second largest HOF diamond in our history, a 10-carat perfectly cut diamond, was recently sold in Malaysia.
The biggest challenge is staying connected and relevant to millennials in every market, from New York to Hong Kong, to ensure that we meet their needs with the right designs and price points.
What were some of the brand’s significant achievements in 2018?
Capeci: There were many great achievements. The one I am most proud of is our partnership with philanthropic organisation Girls Inc, which advocates empowerment of girls to be strong, smart and bold. HOF has created a variety of programmes to give back to this organisation, involving both our team and retail partners. And this is just the beginning.
During the holidays, HOF donated 5 percent of net sales from our Lorelei Classics collection to Girls Inc. We have young girls from the organisation helping design and produce a capsule collection for HOF. They are learning the entire process of jewellery making from design conceptualisation to CAD, production, marketing and sales. Passing on our knowledge to the next generation of strong women is truly a gift and one I am honoured to be part of.
What can we expect from the company in 2019 onwards?
Capeci: Apart from our upcoming bridal line, other developments include fashion collections that put a modern spin on beloved HOF classics; and our infamous global training event, Hearts On Fire University, which for the first time in our 22-year history, will take place in our hometown of Boston.
How crucial is promoting women's equality and female leadership in the ever-evolving jewellery business landscape?
Capeci: Frankly, it is crucial in every industry but even more so in a category that is focused on women. Both male and female leaders are responsible for ensuring that women in their organisations are encouraged, acknowledged and recognised for their achievements. Who better to understand what women look for in jewellery than a female business leader or decision-maker? This is a key driver for our involvement in Girls Inc – the notion of having a hand in shaping the next generation of female leaders is highly rewarding and necessary.
Has winning the Visionary Award from the Women's Jewelry Association inspired you to start new initiatives within HOF and the organisations you're involved in?
Capeci: The Visionary Award has connected me with many young women in our industry, which has been incredibly rewarding. I learn from these young women as much as they would from me. This is why I also act as mentor to young female business owners through the American Gem Society. I have always been passionate about diamonds and jewellery but I believe in doing what you love, whatever that may be. I feel fortunate to be leading Hearts On Fire and working with such a talented and fearless team to build this brand globally.