Events such as the International Jewellery Fair provide crucial opportunities for emerging businesses. SAM DER BEDROSSIAN AM shares the keys to success.
I have been attending trade fairs all around the world for many years.
I’ve attended every Baselworld – with the exception of the 1973 fair – as that was the year my son Steve was born.
And no matter where I am I hear people say, “I don’t need the Fair, my business is doing fine on its own.”
My perspective on this is very different.
These days, and at 81 years of age, one of my most important responsibilities is to attend the International Jewellery Fair and to enjoy myself.
It’s a pleasure to attend the Sydney Fair, each and every year, as it presents an opportunity to see my old customers, and most importantly, to know that they are healthy and well.
In many cases, it’s no longer appropriate to simply call these people friends. When you’ve worked with someone for 30, 35
or 40 years, they’re more like family.
An event like the Sydney trade show gives you the chance to see the latest products, to meet new people and most importantly, to listen to what they have to say.
If you’re paying attention, you can gain an understanding of the trends of the day, and by walking around the Fair, you see how people react to each watch, ring, and necklace they see.
As an exhibitor, you should be asking yourself questions. What do these visitors like? What’s holding their attention? What don’t they like?
I don’t know if many people involved in the jewellery industry today understand just how different things are compared to the way they once were.
I am an Armenian man who was born in Egypt and moved to Australia in 1964. Within three years, I established my own business, which was uncommon for people to do when moving to a new country, and so of course, on the day that I went into business for myself – as Sams Watchmaker Jeweller – I was proud.
One year later and I was married to my wife, Alice, and over the next 40 years we worked together to grow the business.
I would assemble thousands of watches when I first started and this is something I cannot forget. I also recall attending my first jewellery fair – it was in a small hotel, nothing like what we see today at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.
The first of these fairs took place 35 years ago. We attended that first Fair, and we haven’t missed one since.
When you’re reflecting on the way things have changed since those early days of the Fair, you cannot overlook technology.
Today, you look around, and of course everyone is using smartphones and computers.
To think that 35 years ago I had every telephone number I could ever possibly need memorised in my mind. Today, I must say I know only one phone number – my own.
Occasionally, I hear people disparaging the younger generation over this very topic.
They say that they are too reliant on their devices and that they don’t know how to do business ‘the right way’. In my opinion, there is a different way to look at this matter.
I know that I am a person of the past.
In my 55 years in the industry, I have seen two generations come and go, and now, we are welcoming a third. The way I see it, young people bring something new and unique to the watch and jewellery industry.
It’s possible to be a man of the past and at the same time, still live in the present moment and have a role to play in today.
I’m very happy I’ve taken the time to learn all of the IT systems we use and to ensure that I haven’t lost touch with the trade and the business.
Most importantly, I haven’t become someone who always talks about ‘the old days’.
My children and grandchildren are always happy to help me learn these new things and in turn, I try to teach them the things that I have learned.
That’s the way it is meant to be. Every generation has its own ideas – the people of today must do what they can to learn from the past while bringing their own unique approach to business.
In 1991, Alice and I welcomed our son Steve into the family business.
Steve is very careful in everything he does. He expanded the family business into the wider world of fine jewellery and diamonds, bringing his own innovation to the business I started with my wife all those years ago.
I have always enjoyed working with him. He has brought to the industry everything I mentioned above.
Most importantly, in the 30 years we have worked together, we have never had one argument – because I am a great boss!
Name: Sam Der Bedrossian AM
Business: Classique Watches / Sams Group
Location: Sydney, NSW
Years in the industry: 55