When you hear the name Thomas Sabo, you might think of black stones, silver skulls and a collection known as "Rebel At Heart". Or maybe you're familiar with the array of charms found in the Thomas Sabo Charm Club. Founded in 1984, this unique luxury jewellery brand is now spread out in 320 stories across 75 countries, Thailand included. Founder Thomas Sabo himself visited the Bangkok flagship store at Siam Paragon last month to personally launch the latest line of sterling silver jewellery for spring-summer 2018. We sat down with the designer in his store to talk about his brand's origin and success.
So tell us: where did this all begin?
It was on my second trip to Asia, over 30 years ago. I had already had an interest in jewellery--I had a good education in shop and mechanics and had a good feel for different materials, silver especially. I also found that I had a lot of patience for it. I was exposed to traditional goldsmith work here and when I went back to Europe I decided, yes, this is what I really love to do. And then I started my business.
Tell us about some of the collections you are highlighting here today.
One of our highlights is the Charm Club. In the past, the Charm Club was very female, so we’ve put some male attitude into it now in terms of design so that men can enjoy it as well. Then, of course, Thomas Sabo has this iconic rebel attitude, with lots of skulls and crosses. We have a really strong impression and for myself I really love our Rebel collection. Another collection very popular with our female customers with our colourful Tropical collection, for which we have a parrot as the key symbol for the season.
Personally what kinds of pieces do you wear?
Personally I like [these] bracelets. I find this very cool. You can layer it around your wrist, change up the thickness and the intensity. Sometimes I’m also wearing rings and necklaces. But mostly I really like bracelets.
Your jewellery is known to be inspired by your travels. When you are travelling, what is your process of converting inspiration into design?
For me, designing is second nature. I’ll pick up something, maybe take some notes, have a chat about it later with my team. After 35 years, I don’t really think about how I do it. It’s my regular life.
Well-established in Europe, you’re now focusing on expanding into the Asian market. What are your hopes for the brand in this region of the world?
We are glad to be expanding in this region; we are glad to be in Thailand. We are looking to open more shops in Bangkok as well as other place in Thailand, like Phuket. We are also expanding fast and wide in China and Korea. As you know, we have a long history with Hong, so now we’re looking more around Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore. It’s going to be a heavy rollout in Asia.
How do you feel about that?
I’m very happy because I’m a big fan of asia. I come quite often, for work and personal reasons. Especially to Thailand. I love Thailand. I started here, in Thailand, 35 years ago, so it is an important and personal thing for me to have my brand in Thailand and in Asia. My origins as a businessman is here, and what I do comes from my heart.
What do you think is key to your success and the success of the Thomas Sabo brand?
I think success comes from discipline. Beside doing what you enjoy, what you love, you have to continue in a disciplined manner. I think this is very important and prepares you for difficult situations down the road. If you don’t continue, if you don’t have patience, you cannot do this job.
What obstacles have you encountered in your career and how did you overcome them?
I remember back when we were entering the Hong Kong market many years ago and we had a lot of black stones in our collection. Everybody said, “you will never sell this! No way!” But we’re still selling them there today. I think it’s very important for brands to believe in their own design and go for it. I think I’m a guy who respects what other people have to say, but at the end of the day, I decide on my own.