So spoke Alexander Vreeland, recently installed president and chief operating officer of the fine jewelry firm formerly known as Slane & Slane. The name of the company founded in 1997 by sisters Heath and Landon Slane has now been tightened to Slane. Though Vreeland was obviously joking about the reason for the change, he couldn’t be more serious about the company’s rebranding efforts.
He and Landon Slane hosted a press preview on Tuesday to introduce the changes. “[The name] was a mouthful,” explained Slane, who, with the Los Angeles-based Heath, remains co-chief executive officer and designer. “It’s a way of lightening and streamlining things.” She added that the abbreviated moniker is also a little less tricky on the tongue, and thus better suited to global expansion.
There are plenty of other streamlining measures undertaken by Vreeland, a childhood friend of Slane’s husband who also attends the same yoga studio as her. He hired an outside public relations firm, Linda Gaunt Communications (Gaunt was a former colleague at Giorgio Armani); cut down on what he calls “onesie” business orders (“We want to get away from one piece of this, one piece of that, to having larger runs”), and reevaluated the entire flow of business from orders to deliveries.
“We went through every single part of the operation — marketing, production, financial systems — and have gotten much more focused on who we are,” said Vreeland, adding that a redesign of the Web site will make its debut by yearend; they’re also adding a more efficient e-commerce component. Already, the homepage boasts a heart-shaped logo formed from two S’s, and a fresh marketing campaign, which revolves around an illustration by artist Kareem Iliya. It features a shadowy figure, drawn from arty watercolors, wearing a necklace from the upcoming Twin Links collection. “Our jewelry has such a romance to it,” noted Slane. “We felt this image really captured the emotional connection behind it.”
The product range has gotten a similar once-over by Vreeland, although Slane is quick to emphasize that this is an evolution, not an overhaul, of offerings. Twin Links, for instance, skews more sleek and modern than before: thin chain links delicately looped into bracelets and necklaces.
Elsewhere, the sisters have introduced colored enamel work and wood. “I think that before, the company was a little too reactive to what was selling — ‘Let’s do more of that’ — and the pieces were too busy,” said Vreeland. “We’re focused on being clear about what this brand stands for: something we believe is really beautiful and has a special lightness and craftsmanship.”
Even the label’s signature Napoleonic bee motif, which comes inset into an octagon coin setting, is being reworked to appeal to a younger customer. “We’ve taken the bee off the coin and made it a little bigger,” said Slane. “It’s still our heritage, but interpreted in a different way. It looks sweet.
“Heath and I went through the wringer and got beaten up the last couple of years,” she acknowledged of the company’s travails through the recession. “Sometimes you’re working so closely on everything, you can’t see the forest for the trees. It takes [a pair of] fresh eyes like Alexander to come in and bring a new outlook.”
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