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Business & Industrial

LOVER Brand: Exporting jewelry to Asian Markets (TH/EN)

Published Date : 1 Oct 2019

Resource : Creative Thailand

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For large enterprises, international expansion can be a smooth and quick undertaking. If you’re a small entrepreneur who is looking to expand your business, however, going overseas takes a great deal of consideration. 

LOVER is the brass, copper and silver jewelry brand founded by Khun Nong-Pwanna Thongkao. Self-defined as lifestyle jewelry, it is designed for everyday wear and mix-and-match styling where earrings or bracelets can double as pendants. This small brand has conducted careful preparation before going international and Khun Nong will share with us how LOVER breaks into the ASEAN markets.

From the ‘Science of Calculation” to “Design Process”
Khun Nong has many years’ experiences in the jewelry business and built her expertise in the production process. Her passion for jewelry and her Master’s Degree in Jewelry Design from Silpakorn Univercity drove her to establish her own brand.  

When asked about the inspiration behind the simple brand logo which comprises the geometric shapes of circle, triangle and square, Khun Nong explains, “Our logo design comes from Leonardo da Vinci’s golden ratio and substituted with geometric shapes. It is linked to the perfection of geometric shapes.” Even global brands like Apple and National Geographic use elements of this golden ratio as well.

“Our logo also signifies the five elements which are, according to ancient sciences, represented with each geometric shape such as earth with square and gold with circle.” These little details show the brand’s thoughtful attention starting from the design of its logo. “But most of our customers just like the forms and shapes; that they are beautiful to wear. They don’t delve into the belief in the elements.” However, for the customers who believe in such concept, Khun Nong is always happy to provide information no matter which country they come from. “It’s a personal belief that the elements will bolster us. For example, people with fire element will be supported by water element.” 

“One Local Lot” to “One International Booth”
Khun Nong’s LOVER Brand shop is located in Chatuchak Market, a hugely popular weekend market for both local and international tourists.

Khun Nong has opened the one-lot shop for over 6 years. After collecting considerable experiences, she felt that LOVER was ready to take off into the neighbouring countries. “80% of our customers are foreigners so we often showcase our products in international fairs to find viable markets.” Being a member of the Thai Goldsmith Association allows her to receive regular updates on booth opportunities and she has participated in events such as Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair, one of the world’s most renowned jewelry trade fair in the industry

As LOVER offers accessories for everyday wear as opposed to fine jewelry, Khun Nong is able to showcase her products in other events such as Silapacheep fairs or even design fairs such as Crafted Craft.

After gaining experiences from exhibiting locally, Khun Nong began looking for an opportunity to export her products. She chose to access the neighbouring countries in ASEAN first and decided on Singapore.

“First-time Experience” to “Next-time Experience”
“Our first foreign country target was Singapore. I went there by myself without joining any projects. As I’ve mentioned, our products are modern lifestyle pieces fused with craftsmanship. So we have to carefully figure out which country would be a good match.” After deciding on the brand’s position, Khun Nong was able to make the decision. “We thought Singapore should be viable because the people’s lifestyle or mindset is rather open. Their taste should be in line with our products. And their economy and currency value should make our price range attractive to Singaporeans, as well.”

For the first event, Khun Nong picked the well-known Public Garden Consumer Trade Show as her first choice. The subsequent events she participated in Singapore were art and craft fairs.

The first step abroad for a small entrepreneur is naturally worrisome. “The first time we open booth in a foreign fair, I was worried whether people would like or be interested in our products. That was because I noticed how other brands already had their own customer bases that came to support them. I began to doubt whether we would make it. However, it turned out that the Singaporeans gave us a very warm response.” Khun Nong recalls the uncertain beginning with a great deal of relief at the end.

Beyond Singapore, Khun Nong is considering the future of her brand in other ASEAN countries. “Vietnam is a good prospect due to their development pace. I’ve seen many jewelry companies beginning to expand into Vietnam. And our brand should be resonant with the Vietnamese lifestyle.” However, before taking LOVER to Vietnam and other ASEAN countries, Khun Nong still has a lot more to consider. “We must find out whether the country has enough events or markets to support us. We are currently looking into Indonesia and Malaysia, too.”

“We have to understand about the culture, traditions and lifestyle of people in each country in order to design the products that match their needs. Let’s say we will go to Malaysia which is a Muslim country. What should we design? Hijab brooches maybe, with added function. We must do such homework in each country,” Khun Nong shares her design tips.

“One-channel Market” to “Multi-channel Market”
LOVER is a family business run by Khun Nong and her two sisters without any supporting team like big brands. As a result, the brand still lacks a communication channel with its customers. 

Even though LOVER have found success in Singapore events, this discerning entrepreneur still sees her brand’s gap and weakness. Khun Nong has begun to expand her marketing channels besides the offline channel of Chatuchak Market shop and event booth. In the digital age where the internet is crucial to the young generation or even the elderly and children, an online distribution channel will allow the brand to expand its customer base. It will also serve as a way to promote the products and communicate with customers. “I’ll divide our market into two parts: offline and online. For the offline market, what we will do is exhibiting in more events, both local and international along with improving on our storefront.” Khun Nong explains the brand’s long-term plan and adds that, “As for the online market, we’re starting to improve on it since we don’t have our own website yet. So we’ll do that and maybe joining Pinkoi and Esty to distribute our products and promote our brand at the same time.” 

Story : Wanabud Yupakaset