The Family Empire: Swarovski

By Bernadet Bijsterbosch.

The new year started fresh and exciting, and there is a promising vibe in the office. We are expanding EuropeanLife by product and staff, and I do a lot of research on successful business stories to learn from. After reading the book ‘How to Be an Overnight Success’, I noted in my last column that I have found a new interest in family businesses. It is fascinating how some small designers that started many years ago grew into successful family empires, showing their products all over the world. One of these stories is about Swarovski, started in 1895.

Behind Swarovski is a fascinating story of innovation, creativity and social responsibility. The story begins with the birth of its founder, Daniel Swarovski, in Bohemia in 1862. The interplay of light on crystal fascinated Daniel during his childhood, when crystal played an important in the family’s life. Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was one of the most important centres for the production of glass and crystal. And in the small factory run by Daniel’s father, crystal was clear and smoothed.

As a young boy, Daniel took a keen interest in the work going on in his father’s workshop.
He spent days and nights working on fulfilling his vision. Finally, in 1892, he registered a patent for a machine, which for the first time made it possible to grind crystal stones to perfection, faster and with much greater precision than had been possible by working laboriously by hand.

This invention marked a new era in the world of crystal, and the foundation for the present company was laid. In 1895, Daniel and his brother-in-law, Franz Weis, along with Armand Kosman, set up the new business. Daniel and his partners found the ideal location for their company in Wattens in the Austrian Alps. Finally, there were good trade routes to the fashion centre of Paris, where crystal jewellery stones were in great demand.

Today, we see Swarovski in many shopping centres, and it is hard to imagine that this empire started with a boy in 1862 who had a great vision. It is an example of how being successful does not happen overnight and usually takes years and years.

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When I travel to the luxury trade markets around the world, there are always some small designers and brands working very hard to tell their story to get some exposure. What they all have in common is the glowing pride they take in telling their story. They love their products, and they all want to conquer the world. It makes you realize: What an accomplishment on Daniel Swarovski’s part!

It gave me so much inspiration to read this story, and I would like this blog to be a tribute to Swarovski’s beautiful products. I would also like to give you some nice example of products in our luxury vitrine on our website.

Bernadet Bijsterbosch