The fact that iXXXi JEWELRY is the nicest jewelry brand around town won’t be a surprise for you. But who are the faces behind the brand? How was the brand established? And what are the plans for the future? Read about it here, in our exclusive interview with the owners and founders of iXXXi JEWELRY.
From left to right: Diane, Geert, Stefan and Lianda.
A brief introduction….
iXXXi JEWELRY is a brand of Watchit11 and is now sold in 11 countries. Originally the company was established in 1998 under the name ‘iXXXi Amsterdam’. A name that was changed a couple of years later in 2011, to ‘Watchit11’. The company holds the brands iXXXi JEWELRY, iXXXi Steel and Brace. Behind these rock-solid brands, also stands a rock-solid team! Meet Geert, Stefan, Diane en Lianda.
You are both business partners and friends. How did you developed your friendship and where do you know each other from?
Diane: “Geert and I were married when we first met Stefan. Stefan was a sales agent for iXXXi Watches and he came into my store. Next to my store in jewelry and gifts there was a cd shop, that was Geert’s store. Behind our stores we had a shared kitchen and we drank coffee there. That’s how Stefan and Geert met. Stefan is a big music lover, so there was an instant click. (Smiles) From that moment on you could find him there very often!”
She continues: ‘Geert and Stefan also have the same sense of humor, so from then on Stefan visited both me and Geert. Later we also met Lianda during a vacation.’ (editor: Lianda and Stefan already were a couple at the time)
Stefan: (Smiling) “For business I visited Diane, and for the music I visited Geert! ”
Lianda: ‘The four of us decided to spend a long weekend together. That worked out really well, and from that moment on we were inseparable!,’
Wat was it that made you start your own company?
Lianda: “We are all entrepreneurs. At a young age we started our own businesses. Stefan was 22 years old. Geert and Diane were 20, and I was 24 when I first started my own company. Watchit11 is a result of previous trade.”
Diane: “Lianda and I became business partners first. We owned a webshop together.”
Stefan: “We have always stayed in touch as friends. Later we (editor: Stefan and Geert) decided to work together in the watch business. Later the four of us decided to join forces. In 2013 we transitioned from watches to jewelry. That is how iXXXi JEWELRY was established.”
Diane: “We wanted to make jewelry with a story. So we developed our first rings with the interchangeable system. And later we expanded more and more.”
What do you value in friendship?
All four at the same time: Honesty, openness and having fun. And to trust each other!
Stefan and Lianda
How do you combine work and private life?
Lianda: ‘We can combine it very well. We do not see each other all the time. But we are there for each other when needed.’ Geert tells that a lot has changed over the years. “In the beginning we were together all the time, also privately. But we at that point didn’t have our own building. Back then we used to meet for a social call and at the same time we were packing orders in boxes. And that worked fine. Now that we have a company building of our own, we see each other every day at work.”
What was it like to start a company with friends?
Stefan: ‘That was exiting and fun. And our advantage of course was that we all had experience in having our own businesses. Each of us has his or her own function within the company. The four of us complement each other very well, and we can easily consult as a team. The strength of our friendship is that we match well together, and we only need a word to understand each other.’
Geert agrees: ‘Because everyone has different backgrounds, everybody can really shine in his or her field of expertise. That is also how we reinforce each other. And we also go on holiday once a year as group. Then we have vacation, and at the same time we get all sorts of fresh ideas for the company!’
How did that go, building a brand from scratch?
Diane: ‘We always had to work really hard, we didn’t get it for free. Back in the days we had to work seven days a week, and run a family simultaneously. It hasn’t always been easy. But you want to succeed and make it a success, and that is why you do it.,’
She continues: “It was never our goal to become really big. We simply wanted to create a fun and inspiring product that people would love, and to have fun during the process of creating. We never expected our concept to be this successful!’
Lianda (with a big smile): ‘And from the beginning we always had a lot of fun together, and we still do!’
What makes iXXXi JEWELRY special?
Stefan: “The concept that every ring and every jewelry is unique. Through the interchangeable system someone can create his or her own jewelry, and change it completely to their own personal taste. That’s also what makes the product so successful. And we always try to listen to our consumers.”
The collection now consists of thousands of designs and combinations. Where do you get the inspiration for creating new collections?
Lianda: “We get inspiration from everything! One of us can spontaneously get an idea and we as a team develop it. We also work a lot on gut feeling. If we like an idea, then we go for it!’
Diane and Geert
What is characteristic for the company Watchit11?
Stefan: ‘It’s a very healthy and fun company!’ Lianda and Diane both nodd approvingly; “Humanity and a good atmosphere are very important to us.” Geert adds that it feels like one big family. ‘We find it very important that people are enjoying their workspace within the company. Everybody that works with us really has heart fort he products and heart for the company.’
How do you deal with setbacks?
Geert: ‘Together we stand strong. We know that we can depend on one another. We know that everybody is willing to kick it up a few notches. And we always buckle down and work together when we have setbacks. That is why we have such a strong team.’
What are your biggest challenges at work?
Lianda: “To keep everybody satisfied. At the end of the day it is still a business, so we do have to make profit. But we also value our personnel very much. Therefore we think it is important that our personnel matches well together and that everybody feels happy and appreciated at work.”
Has your view on the brand iXXXi JEWELRY changed over the years?
Diane: “No not at all. The products may change, but we still think the same about our brand as when we first started it. We want to make a fun and inspiring product within the interchangeable concept. And we want to continue developing it, and keep expanding.”
Recently you have celebrated the 20th anniversary of iXXXi and 5th anniversary of iXXXi JEWELRY. What was it like for you to celebrate this?
Lianda: 'It was a lot of fun! We really enjoyed celebrating it with our customers, because our customers are the foundation to our success. So we enjoyed giving something back to them. And having such a successful party, really puts the cherry on top.'
What do you like most about your jobs?
Diane: “That not a single day feels like working. We obviously don’t mind to work at all, but it surely doesn’t feel like it. Which is why we love going to work every day!"
What is your dream fort he future? Where do you stand in 10 years?
Stefan: ‘Hopefully we have expanded with iXXXi JEWELRY globally. We hope that in ten years the brand will be just as well-known as it is now in Holland. (Laughs) “And that everybody buys iXXXi of course.”