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By Stephanie Crets

The bi-annual MAGIC tradeshow kicks off today, which means thousands of brands and attendees will be flocking to the Mandalay Bay and Las Vegas convention centers in Las Vegas. For brands, MAGIC is one of the most important events, as it's key to meeting with buyers, retailers and licensors to get their product out to the world for consumers everywhere to enjoy. And with more than 60,000 industry insiders walking past every booth, there are a lot of opportunities for brands to make their mark. For jewelry designer Luca + Danni, this will be the company's first time at MAGIC. And founder Fred Magnanimi is excited for the networking opportunities the event will bring and to share the very personal story behind his jewelry company.

Luca + Danni began with a bracelet and has become one of the leading young jewelry companies. You can find the company's jewelry in about 850 retailers across the United Stated and Canada. Since its inception in August 2014, it has increased its workforce by 43 percent to meet growing product demand. Year-over-year sales have increased by 651 percent, with most of the growth being fueled by word-of-mouth and referrals. That growth is even more impressive when you consider that each bracelets is entirely hand-made in the company's Rhode Island factory.

RM chatted with Magnanimi in anticipation of MAGIC about Luca + Danni's emotional roots, inspiration and plans for the future. Read the interview below.

What is your design inspiration?

The key design aspect that launched Luca + Danni was inspired by a wrist watch – a functional but fashionable statement piece. I spent 12 years working in investment banking and always intrigued by the ability to “read” someone by looking at what sort of watch they wore. A watch was far more than a functional timepiece, but rather an expression of who they were and what they stood for. It seemed rational to me to try to incorporate those elements within the design of a bracelet. I found that most jewelry, especially bracelets, was purchased for a specific reason – a certain charm or symbol might have an intentional and often personal message that should be displayed where they are the most visible, the top of the wrist. It seemed like a logical and innovative approach, and it was through this process that Luca + Danni was born.  

What sets you apart from other jewelry designers/competitors?

I started Luca + Danni in August 2014. It’s a rather unique story – one that, while I believe is powerful and inspiring, is a story I wish I didn’t have. My younger brother Danny was diagnosed with Leukemia in May 2012 and, ultimately, lost a hard-fought battle with the disease in April 2013. Danny had worked with my father in the family’s jewelry manufacturing business and had been poised to take over the operations from my father, who wanted to spend more time fishing. My brother’s battle with cancer was filled with many ups and downs and it was a life changing, emotional event when he passed away. To make things even more complex, my father suffered severe health complications as a result of Danny’s passing – to the point where he was hospitalized the same day that my brother passed away and spent several weeks fighting for his own life as his health deteriorated quickly. 

I was raised with family being an important part of my upbringing and there are those moments in your life when you have an opportunity to give back. I just had my second child and my son was three years old – living in New York, my parents didn’t get to see them too much. I felt like having those two kids as a part of their life - especially for my mom - would help them with their healing process. So, without much thought and based on pure emotion, I did the only practical thing possible - I quit my job on Wall Street, moved my family back to Rhode Island and started to pick up the pieces and take over the family’s struggling jewelry manufacturing business. I knew it was the right decision; and the rest of it, I thought I could figure out along the way. During our talks at the hospital, Danny would always talk about the things that he dreamed of doing with the family business and even though cancer can take away a lot of things, I refused to let it take away that dream.

Why is American manufacturing important to your process?

Each Luca + Danni product is handmade by local artisans in Rhode Island, leveraging the age-old traditions that have proudly made this state the “Jewelry Capital of the World”. For over 60 years, the Magnanimi family’s factory has produced beautiful, handcrafted jewelry and with the launch of Luca + Danni, we remain committed to continuing to produce quality, American-made jewelry. 

How do you choose the retailers to carry your items?

We have a wholesale application process and aim to place our brand in top-tier retailers across the gift, accessory, apparel and jewelry industry. We're proud to have these stores as a visible extension of our brand.

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Are there plans for company/retail expansion in the future?

We are excited to be hiring not only skilled manufacturing jobs to keep up with growing demand, but also executive positions to help us strategically position our brand at the forefront of popular priced costume jewelry. We have a great product, something we know customers want. We are at a great spot right now where we can continue to grow it and drive it in the right direction with the right people behind the wheel. Our fans can expect a great holiday collection that was just released, more charitable programs in 2016 and they can look forward to 80 to 100 more styles in the first quarter of next year.

Do you merchandise your products in-store in any special way?

We have custom-made displays, which feature our logo and branding. More importantly, they are made to properly display our bracelets, which feature a unique oval shape. We also offer retailers in-store signage options, as well as digital marketing images - both lifestyle photos as well as individual product photos.

How has technology influenced the company, both with e-commerce and marketing? 

We’re a strong believer in the use of technology to better the end-user experience of our customers, whether they be retailers or end consumers. For our wholesale business, we offer digital line sheets and use an online ordering system that, from a visual perspective, makes it easy for retailers to gain a full perspective of our line. We also use Dropbox to share a folder with retailers, the contents of which range from line sheets to lifestyle / product photos, to suggested opening orders. The aim is to make the experience as seamless as possible for store owners – to the point where they can place an order online at 11 p.m. while watching the evening news.

From an e-commerce standpoint, we’re very active with social media, and we find these channels to be a great outlet for us to connect with our clients and tell our brand story. We also find that the use of social media drives traffic into retailers that carry our line. Our website offers a real-time chat service for customers that have questions while browsing our website. We also offer a loyalty program, whereby clients receive points for purchases and referrals, which can be redeemed for product discounts.

What are you most looking forward to at MAGIC? 

We’re looking to expand our presence on the West Coast and we’re expanding into apparel stores. We’ve previously attended ATS Las Vegas with good results and very much looking forward to our first MAGIC show. In general, we find that trade shows are a great opportunity for us to connect with both existing customers as well as begin relationships with new ones.

What gives you the most pride at Luca + Danni?

There are moments in life whereby you have the opportunity to do something that is bigger than you. An opportunity to have a bigger impact on the world and to serve as an inspiration for others. This defines Luca + Danni at its core. I went through a tragic personal ordeal but through it saw a tremendous opportunity to take a traumatic event, and with hard work and dedication of a seriously amazing team, spread a message of inspiration and perseverance.  From day one, Luca + Danni has stood for something more than jewelry; that’s a pretty powerful message, and I’m grateful for all of those taking the journey with me.

 

Visit Luca + Danni at Booth 74838 at MAGIC Feb. 16-18 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

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