Engage in impactful problem solving — dynamic teamwork will always equal more than the subtotal of individual efforts. Great teams embrace constructive conflict by asking probing questions and challenging the status quo. Teach teams to be decisive by efficiently analyzing, debating and then committing to a new course of action. Permit teams to be effective and less efficient by focusing on what matters and not just doing things well.
I had the pleasure to interview Lauren Calmas. Lauren is the Chief Marketing Officer and a founding member of the Troverie™ executive team, targeting one of the few remaining merchandise categories yet to be adequately represented online — luxury watches. Troverie is the first brand authorized omni-channel platform offering luxury watches across the United States online, partnering with luxury watch brands and leading jewelers to execute a unique omni-channel model. As chief consumer advocate and storyteller, Calmas ensures that Troverie’s messages are compelling to targeted audiences and delivered across all marketing and media channels as she leads the team through oversight of all planning, development and execution of its marketing initiatives. Mrs. Calmas’ extensive career spans over 20 years in the luxury and branded fashion watch industry working with Swiss brands Movado and Concord as well as lifestyle brands Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Juicy Couture, Lacoste, Kenneth Cole, Ted Baker London, and more. A proven leader of U.S. and international brand and sales organizations, she has built lines of business by meeting both consumer and customer needs with particular focus on marketing, product and business solutions. Her expertise in building, launching and growing watch brands are key elements in guiding clients to explore Troverie’s offerings. Mrs. Calmas received her undergraduate degree from Tufts University and earned an MBA in International Business and Marketing from The Wharton School. Troverie is part of the Authorized Luxury Group, a holding company.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
After a 20+ year career in the luxury and fashion watch industry, I was feeling deflated about the lack of 21st century innovation in the space. I My concerns were rooted in the fundamental distribution model which had yet to evolve significantly. The watch category relies on brick-and-mortar independent jewelers and larger-format department stores, all of which are struggling with decreasing footfall, promotional pressures and speaking to a younger, more-digitally savvy consumer. In 2017, I was considering a dramatic pivot to my career, repositioning my experience in the watch industry as a broader luxury lifestyle accessory skill-set to widen my prospective vertical targets. However, I struggled with the notion of changing industries when I thought deeply about both the relationships nurtured over time and my love for timepieces. The real question was — is there a way to harness both my reputation and my passion to help the luxury watch industry evolve?
The answer was yes, and that’s when Troverie was born. The watch industry came to our leadership — providing us with a mandate that no prior e-commerce player has ever been given. Both the leading luxury brands across the world and top US retailers encouraged us to develop a solution to overcome obstacles each saw from effectively marketing and selling watches online. They did this because they trusted and believed that three veterans with decades of experience in the watch industry, each with a unique track record of success, could solve this pain point for stakeholders and consumers. This became the standard for the market and created a catalyst leading to rapid adoption of Troverie’s unique concept.
Troverie is providing a service that not only satisfies the customer but also helps the industry reposition itself for long term success. Troverie has transformed the luxury watch space for a new generation of clients while empowering brands and jewelers to reach a digital audience that they could not be previously speak to in an effective manner independently.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We developed a disruptive yet collaborative solution. We approached the opportunity from an “Everyone Can Win” point of view, across three constituencies (consumer, jewelers, and manufacturers) with very clear, varying goals). This required sacrifices by all parties to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. For example:
- Retailers were not given exclusivity over any territory or any guarantee on order allocation process. But instead, they were given the ability to sell their brands online for the first time with the full authorization of the brands and a completely new way to gain new customers. This came at a minimal cost, something they frankly could not do on their own for financial and contractual reasons.
- Brands were hesitant to allow for online sales to occur. The independent retailers were selling over 90% of luxury watches in the US, and to allow them each to create and maintain their own platforms would have required an incredible investment to review and approve dozens and dozens of individual platforms with varied presentation. Instead, we created a centralized platform that allows the brands to have agency in the online consumer experience and ensure it is every bit as exemplary as when a consumer walks into a luxury jeweler storefront. Instead of reviewing every jeweler’s website, they work with us.
- We are helping consumers understand the major risks associated with shopping for a luxury watch from a grey market, unauthorized dealer; and we give them an unparalleled experience from start to finish, with full reliability (of timeliness, quality, authenticity, presentation), and incredible customer support (pre-sizing, Troverie Ambassador, special VIP access, complimentary polishing).
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share how they made an impact?
I’ve had two important mentors and role-models at different stages along my career path. My first mentor was Fred Levin, the CEO of Troverie, and my very first boss out of business school. When Fred recruited me from Wharton to join his fledgling International Business Division at Movado Group Inc., my marketing toolbox was full of theory, but I was a master of none while also void of any real-life application. Fred’s deep background as an engineer and then a McKinsey & Company consultant helped me quickly learn about project management, process improvement and identifying the best talent to staff critical teams. And while my marketing tools have dramatically changed since then, those core business management tools have remained the same.
My second mentor was the CMO at Geneva Watch Group, Claire Powell, who was an absolute master at managing — both people and time. Claire’s greatest attribute is agility, and she understood that adapting her style and tools to best suit the team and/or the individual was a better path to success that expecting all to adjust to her approach. I have found this strategy especially valuable throughout all of my marketing leadership role, when one might be managing performance marketing analysts as well as art directors along side merchandisers and content creators. As someone equally left and right brained, it’s easier for me to change my management style and meet my staff wherever they are.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- Think differently — solving problems with tried and true solutions will only provide tried and true results. If you want disproportionate success, then you need to be more unique and creative
- Allow for agility — a certain percentage of everything we try will be wrong. We just don’t know which programs will make up that percentage. So, don’t compound a mistake by structuring programs or contracts that will limit your ability to make quick corrections.
- Engage in impactful problem solving — dynamic teamwork will always equal more than the subtotal of individual efforts. Great teams embrace constructive conflict by asking probing questions and challenging the status quo. Teach teams to be decisive by efficiently analyzing, debating and then committing to a new course of action. Permit teams to be effective and less efficient by focusing on what matters and not just doing things well.
How are you going to shake things up next?
We are incredibly energized by the initial reaction to Troverie and are working hard to grow our audience, bring on more of the best luxury watch brands, and grow our network of partner jewelers. We recently announced a “Trade In, Trade Up” partnership with Crown & Caliber, a pre-owned luxury watch marketplace. With this seamless partnership, we’re giving consumers the opportunity to trade in an infrequently worn luxury watch for a credit towards a new watch bought from Troverie.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
Ryan Holiday’s Growth Hacker Marketing was my compass for many months as I switched career paths, shifting from leading luxury branding and marketing teams to co-founding Troverie, a start-up e-commerce business, serving as an authorized destination for buying new, luxury watches. The similarities in the luxury watch space were quickly overshadowed by the challenges of new customer acquisition and driving short-term conversions, if only to help us test and learn different marketing approaches. Holiday’s vignettes and case studies weren’t necessarily revolutionary ideas, but taken together, illustrated the need for entrepreneurs to have a totally different mindset in proving a business concept. Every time I felt the draw back to the strategies and tactics that proved successful in my “first career” in traditional luxury goods marketing, I picked up the book to reboot and re-orient my thinking. A year into working on Troverie, I constantly find myself drawing from this book as we develop and reset strategy.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger…
I am a huge proponent of charter schools as incubators for new and innovative strategies for delivering extraordinary educational programs. In my volunteer life, I serve with great honor and privilege as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Hoboken Charter School in Hoboken NJ. I think school choice is critical for all parents to best match their own family values with an approach towards education and a school community. In my opinion, communities, families, educators and students all win in that formula.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“No one will ever manage your career better than you can.” I’ve shared that philosophy with countless others: recent grads from my various alma maters, mentees in various companies, members of teams that I’ve managed directly, as well as friends. In my professional life, I’ve asked tons of questions to people I respected. But I never asked, “What would you do in my situation?”; but instead I asked, “How would you think about making a decision in my situation?” My goal was to get better at reading the landscape, understanding trade-offs, identifying land-mines, and finding my own path.
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