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THE TALK: From a Narrow Passage Onto a Beautiful Square

Lucia Odescalchi aims at future generations and is convinced that a great comeback is waiting for us all

How can an independent designer, who lives on direct relations with the customer and her artisans, manage such a sudden lockdown?
At the beginning it was like someone had pulled the chair from under me. That sensation which makes you stagger but not fall. However, this normality shake-up, I hate to say it, but I think we needed it. Everything now, and always on the run, almost for no reason. For some aspects, this standstill can help to keep a hold on the tiller and I’m sure that, after the abstinence we have been forced into now, there will be a great comeback. The real problem to think about is who will we be? It will be a highly ethical approach. 

Is this situation offering you food for thought on how to review some of your business management modalities? 
It is exactly due to uncertainty that we always need to be brave, to sail unchartered water and follow demand. Another topic that I am reflecting greatly on regards the young generations. Who will the buyers of the future be? Those born with the virus? We will surely have to deal with an even more technological generation. Today we are in a dead-end street, a disused track. Re-starting also means picking up without making the same mistakes of the past and thinking of products for the young. We will have to deal with extremely restricted space but the young people should be rewarded and there will always be more room for them. This is why I believe it is our duty to design collections for a younger taste.

How are you organizing your activities at the moment?
At first, I stopped, like everyone did. It is not by designing more collections that we will manage to overturn an already saturated market. We have to give the people what they ask for. There is no better cure than desire at a time like this because it is expectation that creates it. And this is an aspect that we must try to have on our side. In my moment of standstill, I looked at everything that I have done to date and I have optimized production, subdividing it into segments, working a lot from home and putting it all together at the end, but always in contact with my suppliers. I have tried to make my Cometa earrings by playing with internal colors and working on the chains with different enamels, almost with a 1980s discotheque mood. An extremely amusing direction that, perhaps in normal times, I would never have considered. And then I have been working on prices with items of a more affordable cost. 

Two stores and an atelier in Rome, a newly-opened boutique in central Milan. On the sales front, what is happening at the moment?
I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful and extremely generous response from my recent Milanese clientele, which has helped me very much in terms of personal recommendations. It was unbelievable. A truly beautiful proactive reaction, while Rome is more fatalist. I’m not pessimistic, but now we will have to suffer a lot and, above all, find a new role for the people who work with us. But then, there will be a wonderful and enjoyable recovery. 

And on-line sales?
We are working very well with on-line sales and I have noticed an increase. It helps us to keep relations with the customers alive. We give them the materials to see and, if they don’t buy now, we tempt them for when everything is over. In this way, we have more time to be prepared and make sure that this waiting period is not seen as some kind of torture. With e-commerce, we work with a price range that starts at 150 Euros but, let’s say that, on average, people spend about 400 Euros for one of our items and perhaps more. If you are on Internet, there is always a "reason why". Perhaps it was word of mouth but you are never there by chance. Then we never have returned goods because we have a seal that will not let a person wear the item and then send it back. Packaging for me is a highly important cost item.

A very positive and enthusiastic vision and approach.
I am always afraid of being too positive, but nothing can be taken for granted and this is like a narrow passage that is necessary for a later re-launch. 

What role does communication play at the moment?
The social networks are a highly valid tool because so many customers come from there. Of course, more investment must be made but we are trying not to "over talk", otherwise the effect can be the opposite. I prefer to speak well rather than in continuation. As for the effect of the images we post, I can say that, in general, content in movement attracts much more than static images. I don’t want to work with external agencies because nobody can ever interpret your thoughts better than your own internal team. 

What does jewelry represent today?
The power of jewelry lies in its history. There needs to be strength behind it. I have always been stubborn. I used to do trade shows, I sold from Barneys, but perhaps I couldn’t be bothered or didn’t have the ability to align myself with the market. I do believe, however, that being recognizable rewards me now. My designs may not be everyone’s cup of tea but being recognizable means that you have been sought out. You can’t please everyone.

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