Founded in the 1970s with a focus on the design, production, and sale of affordable costume jewelry inspired by high fashion, the Miami-based company has made its mark by promising to make its customers look as glamorous as any fashionista for the low price of $10.
Gabriel Bottazzi, president and CEO of Bijoux Terner, said the story of the company’s transition to a single-price platform is a bit fuzzy, with the most popular version being that a liquidation sale at an airport caught the attention of the owner’s daughter as a way to launch the company beyond its roots in airports, cruise ships, and casinos. But no matter what tale people choose to believe, the company’s growth speaks to its success.
Since launching its single-price platform in 1997, Bijoux Terner has grown 15 to 20 times its previous size with more than 500 locations around the world. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the company’s focus on fashion.
“Our designers are always involved in activities to keep up with the key attributes that high-fashion design houses put on their watches, handbags, necklaces, etc.,” said Bottazzi. “We don’t actually copy someone else’s product; we look at the key fashion attributes.”
Up to par
If big buckles, big bangles, Roman numerals, and rhinestones are in, it’s almost guaranteed that the next line of Bijoux Terner products will mirror those trends. But fashion trends come and go at a rapid pace, and the success or failure of a fashion company lies in its ability to interpret which trends can be translated into specific demographics, which ones are here to stay, and which ones will be quickly replaced.
“It’s about speed, but it’s also about accuracy and understanding the customer,” said Bottazzi. “We work diligently to balance those two concepts.” If the company sees a trend destined for a short shelf life, it moves quickly to capture it. For trends destined to have a longer lifespan, the company moves just as fast.
“It’s important to keep that balance,” said Bottazzi. “We have tight relationships with our suppliers, good relationships with our transportation carriers, and keep open lines of communication with our sourcing offices to make sure our products are always on the cutting edge of fashion.”
In December, Bijoux Terner opened its own sourcing office in Hong Kong to improve its ability to keep its finger on the pulse of the fashion industry. By developing tighter relationships with its manufacturers through its sourcing office, the company has found a way to keep a better handle on quality.
“We create beautiful merchandising within our stores. On one side, you could have the bright reds of Asia and the other the greens that match the Pashmina that’s made in India,” said Bottazzi. “With our own sourcing office, we now have more control of our supply chain and can ensure our products all meet our quality expectations.”
For the past 12 years, Bijoux Terner has grown significantly through its retail locations in airports, cruise ships, and casinos around the world. Today, the company has more than 550 boutique shops located in 60 countries.
Although the company remains committed to its travel retail business, feedback from US consumers pointed to a void in the costume jewelry industry. “They would tell us they’d like to buy more of our products, and we’ve had to tell them to go back to Vegas, take a cruise, or get on a plane and go past security,” said Bottazzi.
The company had also started tackling questions from ambitious franchisees looking to run a Bijoux Terner store. Despite the recession, Bottazzi said there has been an even greater demand lately for people who are tired of the corporate world and looking for a lucrative new business venture. “These are entrepreneurs who don’t want to start from scratch,” he said. “They want to have a system in place to build on while maintaining some of their independence.”
Retail became an even more attractive venture to Bijoux Terner after visiting several franchising conventions. Food, spa, and exercise businesses were well represented, but the fashion world was not. To develop its franchise program, in March 2007, the company hired MSA, a franchising consulting firm, to help it build a strong business platform focused on catering to consumer needs and ensuring franchisees can make a great return on their investment.
“For fashion enthusiasts, we bring a business option that is unique and profitable,” said Bottazzi. “We’re also differentiated by the lower investment cost to become a Bijoux Terner franchisee. To open one of our stores is considerably less expensive compared to a pizza or sandwich shop.”
In addition to expanding its business platform on the franchisee front, Bijoux Terner opened nine city-based retail locations in 2008, as well as more than 25 stores in its travel retail market. The company has also started approaching big-box retailers interested in selling accessories in a new way.
Bottazzi said large retailers typically buy items and create their own collections by using their own people to follow trends in accessories. Bijoux Terner already has that expertise built in. “We are talking with high-end big-box operatorsthat want to have a high-volume store-in-store accessory concept inside their stores,” he said. “We come to the table with the value-add of years of expertise, so it seems a promising venture for both parties.”
With a variety of growth opportunities hitting the company all at once, Bijoux Terner invested $1 million into a warehouse and inventory management system and another $1 million into upgrading its ERP system. Bottazzi said the investments enable the company to be more responsive to consumer and retail demands, more effectively manage its inventory, and improve its EDI capabilities for customers.
The company’s greatest advantages, however, continue to be its single-price platform, its attention to customer needs, and its philosophy that fashion isn’t based on price but rather on taste. “We’re focused on helping consumers lead a fashionable lifestyle at an affordable price and delivering on that concept in our stores,” Bottazzi said. “That is our value proposition.”