Boxpark Shoreditch: Interview with Nicolas Loufrani CEO of Smiley
G: Tell us about your business/organisation/brand. What do you do? Why do you do it?Why are you unique?
We bring happiness to the world by spreading our iconic logo in every possible way and to every possible place. We remind people to take life not too seriously and to spread smiles and positive energy around them.
We can’t help but doing it, it’s who we are and truly what we are about. Since our founder launched his happy news campaign using Smiley with newspapers in 1972 we have always shared the same philosophy: Take time to smile.
Many brands talk about emotion but our brand IS an emotion. We are not about a product, we are about a feeling and a state of mind that transcends all the products we make.
G: Why did you choose Shoreditch for your new store?
Boxpark is a really original mall that has enabled us to test our first shop concept in a fast and simple way. What I really like in Shoreditch is that its a very entrepreneurial area, somehow people there look at the future and must have a very Smiley spirit to do so. Also I love the fact this in an area where people party and have fun, and that’s a big part of what we are about.
G: A lot of Shoreditchers have quite unique taste and sometimes are quite resistant to mainstream brands, so how your company is planning to win over the hearts and minds of local community?
I see and talk to a lot of people who think they are cool and not mainstream because they wear things their grandparents might have been wearing. You look at all the fashion stores and interior decoration stores in Shoreditch, same old stuff, even new products are often reproductions of old ones, using exactly the same packagings as the 50’s or sometimes even the 19th century… it’s really scary! Most vintage stores don’t sell original pieces or creative designer pieces but you see rails of the exact same type of garments. To me that’s mainstream, it’s a total lack of creativity. I think the brands in Boxpark bring a lot of freshness and creativity to an area that style wise lives in the past.
G: What do you think will be the other challenges developing the business in Shoreditch and how are you planning to overcome them?
I’m a positive thinker, I don’t want to think about challenges. And when reality catches me with something wrong I know it’s always for the better.
G: Who/what are your favourite CEOs/Businesses in Shoreditch?
I’m really fascinated by Moshi monsters. I think what they have created is really fun. Their characters have great fun designs, I love them and their growth is phenomenal. But my favourite businesses are all these little restaurants and bars, I really love Saf the vegetarian place, they show how creative you can be just with veggies, I even went to their detox centre in Turkey, it was tough but has given me an incredible energy.
G: What were the most memorable experiences while developing your business?
I’d say all the failures. All the deals I have missed were benedictions in disguise and have made me change the way I do things. Failure has paved the road to success. It’s incredible when I look back and think about it but I have achieved most of my business goals only through mistakes or failures. Now I fear nothing as every issue I am confronted to is simply a warning I have to look at things in a different way. Just think positive and life will bring the people you need and situations you want when time is right.
G: What does the future has in store for your brand?
Our London studio keeps on creating hundreds of new products each month, in all sorts of industries, we do clothing and accessories of course but are also involved in Home decor, publishing, cosmetics, digital media and even food. We will launch skateboards next year and we are working on some Hi-tech projects.