7 things in her bag: Rachel Marouani

7 things in her bag: Rachel Marouani

When Ms Rachel Marouani was a little girl growing up in Paris, she imagined selling shoes one day. While still a shoehound, today the grown-up Ms Marouani works with a different kind of accessory - fine jewellery - as the chief executive of high-end French jewellery brand Fred.

"Nobody wears jewellery without a story," the 42-year-old Parisian says in an interview with Urban. "People can remember things like the mood they were in when they bought it, or who gave it to them, or how old they were at the time."

Ms Marouani became the head of Fred, founded in 1936, in early 2012. Now under the LVMH group, its main presence is in France, Monaco, Japan and South Korea. She was in town last week for the official opening of the first Fred store in South-east Asia at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

Asked to describe Fred jewellery, words like "colour", "easy" and "modern" emerge in the conversation. The label is known for its use of colourful gems and unfussy pieces, and also its past ties to luminaries such as Princess Grace of Monaco and Hollywood actress Marlene Dietrich.

Prices of the jewellery here range from $1,320 for a white gold ring to $197,425 for a diamond necklace.

"The brand's founder, Mr Fred Samuels, had a name card saying 'modern jeweller-designer'," she says. "Even today, it's all about how to stay modern looking."

With that in mind, Ms Marouani introduced the innovative Pain de Sucre (sugarloaf) ring in November last year. The best-selling ring features a candy-coloured gemstone that can be removed and interchanged with different gemstones.

"We wanted to make something for women with character, a piece that they could change based on their emotion and how they feel," she says.

Prior to Fred, Ms Marouani spent seven years at the similarly LVMH-owned beauty emporium Sephora as head of marketing and customer relations, developing its e-commerce capabilities and programmes such as the loyalty card.

It was an easy decision to join Fred when given the opportunity, adds the single mother of a four-year-old son. Her stylish grandmother had worn pieces from Fred and she knew the brand name.

And the new job, she says, is not so different from the Sephora gig despite the leap in price point because she has always been focused on making customers happy.

She also enjoys the entrepreneurial challenge of growing a small company. While it has the backing of a group like LVMH, Fred is still small-scale compared to Sephora, with only about 40 people in its head office. Developing a bigger presence overseas is important and opening in Singapore is a start, she notes.

"I take the plane like others take the bus," says Ms Marouani, who travels every 15 days or so, both for work and occasionally leisure. "But I was keen to do this."

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