DUBAI: Saudi entrepreneur Yasmine Alshathry is opening the first brick-and-mortar store for her e-commerce platform CLÉ – dedicated to fine jewelry and watches – in VIA Riyadh on Oct. 7.
Alshathry, who launched her platform in 2013, took a trip down memory lane with Arab News, looking back at how she started CLÉ and what she is doing to grow the brand.
“The journey began long before 2013, back when I was in middle school where frankly I was fortunate to be surrounded by people of taste and culture who wore beautiful mechanical watches,” she recalled.
“Of course, at the time I had zero knowledge or clue what watches were about, but I enjoyed the aesthetics and design and that was the initial hook,” she said.
Alshathry then started having conversations with her father about the pieces he owned. “As any 14-year-old, when you share a common interest with your role model – your parents – nothing can beat that feeling,” she said.
When she moved to London in 2011, she started to immerse herself in the industry by visiting modern and vintage boutiques. “It was in 2013, when I wanted to truly mimic the feeling I received from everyone I met in these stores to GCC collectors and equally support them in their endeavors to acquire the pieces they were after.”
That was when she took the decision to launch CLÉ Concierge, a bespoke service that aimed to bridge the gap between watch collectors and brands.
In 2019, the founder decided to scale CLÉ Concierge to serve a wider purpose focused on growing and evolving the luxury market from a traditional retail model to an innovative platform built on localization, brand storytelling and a luxury customer service experience.
Her decision to launch a physical store came after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She noticed an unexpected shift in consumer behavior as people wanted to go back to physical experiences and human interactions, she said.
“The Saudi customer has a very peculiar purchase behavior and although he or she is very tech-savvy, there will always be hesitation when it comes to buying jewelry or watches online and they need a sense of reinforcement and we believe the store will provide that feeling,” Alshathry said.
“Our aim is to deliver a rewarding experience to our clients every time they engage with us and because we offer an exclusive service and product range that very few people appreciate and know about,” she said. “Our aim is to grow this pool of audience and expand it, and to do so, we need to continuously educate the market, build rapport and relationships and to do that we need to be visible, present and accessible to clients.”
The entrepreneur said that VIA Riyadh’s team reached out to her because “they truly appreciated what CLÉ has to offer.”
“VIA Riyadh is a luxurious development with a local essence that embodies everything we believe in at CLÉ, bringing in exclusive retail and hospitality brands means we all service and target a niche audience, centered around offering a high caliber customer experience,” she said.
The launch event will take place on Oct. 7.
“Because we don’t do mainstream at CLÉ definitely expect for the launch event to be daring, different and bold,” the founder said. “All I can say is that there will be a lot of engaging activities and guests won’t be bored.”
The founder said that she is working on growing a wider presence for CLÉ. “We are definitely looking to open new stores but with different concepts. I don’t believe that our stores will be the same across Saudi Arabia or the Gulf, we will always add something new and fresh into any concept we bring forward,” she said.