As a shameless plug, Shamballa will grace the cover of Elite Traveler’s upcoming January/February issue and has been featured by my favorite magazine on a number of occasions.
When Michael Lillelund joined in 2009 the brand was still mainly known in its home market and his brief was to grow international business.
He still remembers fondly “me and Mads” opening a pop-up boutique at Hotel Costes in Paris. It was there then French Vogue Editor Carine Roitfeld saw the jewelry and came to become a major advocate.
Now North America and the Caribbean are the focus for the youthful Lillelund, named by the World Economic Forum as a “Global Shaper.” Joining forces with eyewear aficionado Larry Sands (Aspen Optical Shop) the two have formed SL Luxury Group.
Speaking by phone during a business trip to Houston, the now Los Angeles-based Lillelund said, “I have always been intrigued by the U.S. market. It is a huge luxury market, but you can’t build the U.S. market from Denmark.”
Lillelund said the partnership grew out of a meeting at a trunk show where Sands bought a Shamballa bracelet for his wife. Sands ended up becoming one of the brand’s top performing retailers and after “spending two years as close friends and business associates” in August they took the next step.
Since launching in August Lillelund said, “old retailers are buying more and we are getting new retailers.”
Separately Lillelund is an investor in 42raw.com, a dining concept based on “the understanding that the popularity of healthy natural eating is growing exponentially around the world.” So far there are two restaurants in Denmark, one in London and New York will open next year.
SL Luxury Group will eventually distribute other brands going beyond jewelry across luxury – think pens and accessories. Lillelund thinks with Sands their expertise will be a prime drawing card for brands seeking to make inroads in the luxury segment.
In the meantime, Lillelund says 100 percent of his focus for the near future is with Shamballa. He says the “pyramid” and “tennis” bracelets are particularly hot. Also on the agenda is opening Shamballa boutiques, likely in Miami and New York, plus not surprising a line of Shamballa eyewear.
Despite all the growth plans, Lillelund wants to make sure Shamballa isn’t overexposed. He cites Ferrari cutting back production to maintain exclusivity. In other words, it sounds like the best of both worlds for elite travelers – accessibility for you without seeing the product splashed out everywhere.