Marina Raphael, 23, is a handbag designer and sixth-generation member of the Swarovski crystal empire.
Source: Business Insider
In July 2020, Marina Raphael, a member of the famous Swarovski “crystal” family, is in the process of leading her eponymous luxury handbag brand through the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the pandemic, Raphael’s sales in 2020 have witnessed impressive growth.
In 2019, Raphael launched a product line bearing her name and distributed it at high-end retailers such as Moda Operandi and even Maxima, Queen of Netherlands. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected in-person shopping habits, disrupting supply chains and production.
In an interview, Raphael said: “As a young entrepreneur, everything happens so fast. But a good entrepreneur has to adapt to any situation, find solutions quickly and flexibly.”
In the first months of 2021, the young businesswoman’s company reported record revenue growth.
Changing operational strategy
With handbags priced from $600 to $1,800, the company’s sales skyrocketed in 2020.
This business has changed its communication strategy, added charity initiatives to sales promotion activities, reduced the physical size of the product to 50% to match the current actual situation according to the new needs of customers: “carry less”.
The brand has cooperated with many partners including the skincare cosmetics company Vichy, France, while also expanding its own line to manufacture cosmetic bags and keychains.
At the same time, with the use of premium leather without any marks for its high-end handbags, Raphael associated with luxury retail brand Luisa Via Roma and Art Director Evangelie Smyrniotaki. This partnership helps the company’s entire leather bag products sell out within the first 2 weeks since its release.
Her next plan will be a collaboration with Swarovski Creative Director Giovanna Battaglia, which predicts a 420% increase in sales in 2021.
Key factor behind Raphael’s success
Source: Business Insider
Raphael’s company, headquartered in Greece, has operations around the world. Public relations activities for the brand are concentrated in London (UK), while the sales agency is in New York (USA); the quality control is in Australia and the bag production is in Florence (USA).
In March 2020, the Marina Raphael brand launched a spring-summer collection with enough products to serve until the end of August. However, by June 2020, all of these items and some inventory of the previous collection were sold out.
One of the factors behind this success is a diversified supply chain. When the factories in Italy are closed, the quality control department in Australia can start production.
The small number of employees with only 14 people helped to operate the production process easily despite the difference in time. At the same time, the showrooms must be closed to help the company not have to worry about transportation.
Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Raphael had to work using WhatsApp and Zoom. This was a challenge because she had to design the handbag without touching the fabric or seeing the end product.
At the same time, the brand must find a way to sell luxury products in times of financial crisis and the ongoing global health crisis.
The company cannot stop selling or manufacturing the bags, Raphael said: “Then our suppliers will have problems, our production team will have problems. They will lose their jobs.”
Donating 20% of sales to charity
To achieve great sales success, the company decided to donate 20% of total sales to charities such as the Black Jaguar – White Tiger Foundation and the Hellenic Pasteur Institute.
Luxury retailer Moda Operandi implemented a similar strategy last year to great success. Following this campaign, a report found that, if an item is tied to a charitable cause, shoppers are willing to pay full price for it, even if another sale runs at the same time.
“I think that’s why we don’t feel guilty promoting the product because for every sale of a product, we helped others in some way,” says Raphael.
To promote the collections, Raphael’s company started sending out letters and other “interactive fun” to patrons.
The program was also very successful: “Getting something delivered to your door makes customers feel more self-aware than experiencing a fashion week through 15 different showrooms.”
And Raphael attributes her success to her entire staff. In the early months of the pandemic, she recalls, everyone was in a state of panic. So she had to figure out for herself how she could motivate her employees during this time, listening to their feedback to adopt new business strategies.
H/T: Business Insider