It is a pleasure knowing many inspirational business owners in the state of RI. I've had the opportunity to not only meet but also work together with Fred Magnanimi. I want to share with you some of the questions I had the chance to ask him.
Q1: How was the relationship between you and your brother growing up?
It was great! We were 18 months apart in age and shared a lot of the same common interests and friends. Some of my best memories are of the three of us (my younger sister included) on our adventures when we were little.
Q2: How was your family involved in the jewelry industry and for how long were they involved in it?
My family owns a manufacturing factory in Rhode Island and we've been making jewelry in one form or another for over 60 years.
Q3: Do you think the brand will ever expand to more than just jewelry pieces?
I do. We see Luca + Danni as a brand whose message and inspiration connects with our clients. I can see us opening up our product range past jewelry at some point - not sure what that will mean product-wise (at the moment) but I'm learning to never rule anything out!
Q4: Are there pieces that specifically represent your brother in a particular way?
Yes, our new family series. The base of the piece is a heart shape with two hand prints and it was the last design he did before he was diagnosed with cancer. The genesis of the piece comes from a father's day gift that my Mom made (in 1983), which has the hand prints from the three children and a poem in the middle. When we went to revise our existing family series, we kept coming back to the meaning behind the piece. We kept all of it true to form using his original design (slightly modified to better fit the wording) and the card has the same wording as the poem hanging in my parents house. It's really a great piece!
Q5: Are there any sayings that you live by?
Luke Skywalker wasn't Luke Skywalker without Darth Vader. (e.g. You need to embrace the challenges that life puts in front of you.)
Q6: In one word how would you describe yourself?
Q7: How does the company approach change?
We embrace it and it's part of the DNA of who we are. We go into most things with some form of a plan but we know that's going to change at some point and we have the mindset of embracing the notion that we're going to adjust things at some point. I approach a lot of things in business from the mindset of an athlete - in sports, you always need a plan but you need to know when to adjust things if it's not working or when those unexpected hurdles come about.
Q8: Considering you are the CEO, how many emails do you get a day and how do you manage that?
I like emails so there's never too many! It's a digital world and always being connected allows me to better balance things.
Q9: Seeing that you are a trendy jewelry line, where are you getting your inspiration from?
We have a core look that defines our brand so we try to balance expanding into different categories / looks while still trying to preserve what makes us unique. We gather a lot of inspiration from the team internally - they understand better than anyone what makes Luca + Danni special and they're great at constantly providing ideas and feedback for new product launches. We also communicate with our wholesale and retail customers regarding products they'd like to see. Lastly, we're always looking to see what trends are emerging on social media (Instagram is great).
Q10: What pieces have been the most rewarding ones and why?
Probably our Hudson bracelets. The crystal is from Swarovski and it's used in the clothing industry as a sew-on stone. We're the only company (that I'm aware of) that uses the crystal as part of a bracelet and it's become our top selling piece. It was a product that we originally had some reservations about but took a leap of faith with - it's that aspect (e.g. we almost didn't do this!) that I think I appreciate the most.
Q11: When was Luca + Danni first thought of?
In April 2013, my younger brother Danny lost a difficult battle with cancer – he was 33 years old. Through his difficult year of chemo treatments, I would often talk with Danny about the things he dreamed of doing with the family jewelry business once he got better. It was his dream to create a unique line of handcrafted, American-made jewelry that inspired others through their journey of life. Luca + Danni was born in 2014, fueled by my brother’s passion and a burning desire to carry forth his vision.
Q12: When you decided you wanted to build the brand, did you ever think this was going to be the outcome?
We’ve always tried to be innovative and disruptive with our business from the very start. From day one, the plan was that the plan was going to change! We knew we were going to make mistakes along the way but we’d be fluid enough to change things and adapt as the market grew. I’m a firm believer in making the best decisions you can, based on the information you have at the time… and then adjusting the approach as you go. We have an amazing team, an incredible product and a killer culture… add an authentic marketing approach and we feel like we’re in a really good place!
Q13: Why so many different anchors in the line?
We hail from the Ocean State! RI is where many of my family members, including my wife and I, were born and raised.
Q14: Does Luca + Danni give back to the community?
Absolutely! Our story has been embraced by both our retail partners and our end consumers. Through this process, we’ve heard thousands of stories that have touched our hearts and resulting emotions have focused us on leveraging our brand to support charitable organizations that are important to the Luca + Danni family. In mid-2015 we launched a charity-based bracelet program whereby retailers can select a charity – which is often a local, underfunded charity, and a portion of the proceeds from bracelet sales will be donated. To date, we’ve launched more than 20 projects. For the second year, we will be working locally with the Gloria Gemma foundation to create some exclusive pieces to support that organization here locally in RI.
Q15: Where do you see the company going?
Sky is the the limit! The tragic events that I went through changed my life in a lot of different ways. Not all of it is bad in hindsight as it’s instilled some amazing life lessons in me – you really need to take a step back and enjoy living in the moment as it can all be taken away from you at any moment. I’ve been pretty vocal about my story. If my brother had won his battle with cancer I’d still be sitting in front of a computer screen on a trading floor. I’d give anything for that. But today, I have this amazing business that we’re all so incredibly proud. There’s a part of me that wishes I didn’t have it… that my brother should be the one doing this.
What excites me now is that we’re at the tip of the iceberg on what we can do with this brand especially as it relates to the digital side. We can get our message out to millions of people. I’ve done some pretty cool things in my career, but for me, I’ve never been this excited about anything from a business perspective. Our company has an amazing potential and most importantly, we’re having a ball building a brand.
I am thrilled to support brands with not only an amazing story but also ones that remind me of my own culture and my family.
Until my next topic...
© 2016 Gloria Isabel Nieto