Taking jewellery to the Louvre - from Jordan

26 November 2013
ITC News
Glittering display cases at the Louvre Museum’s gift shop in Paris represent a brand-new business opportunity for Jordanian jewellery designer Nadia Dajani. Her distinctive pieces, composed of sterling silver and natural gemstones, are sold at the prestigious location as a result of the assistance of EnACT, an ITC programme.

'The exposure that our products will get at the Louvre will be on a very wide scale, which we hope will open the eyes of other establishments to our brand,’ said Dajani. ‘And we hope the door will open for us to do more business internationally.’

"The entry of our goods into the Louvre endorses our products as being of good design as well as good quality. It endorses our company as one that is able to process orders, fulfil requirements and deliver in a manner expected in large establishments." Nadia Dajani, jewellery designer, Jordan

EnACT, which is funded in large part by CIDA, operates in five countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. The programme supported Dajani in tailoring her products to European tastes and in helping to establish the foundations of an internationally marketable brand.

In Jordan, EnACT has been working since 2010 to create sustainable economic opportunities for SMEs by introducing them to international markets. A survey commissioned by ITC that year showed that traditional Jordanian crafts needed innovation: reliance on traditional designs and forms limited the product range and the price of many products was not competitive compared to similar items manufactured in Asia.

In September 2011, Nadia Dajani Jewellery was one of the three Jordanian handicraft companies – along with Silsal Ceramics and Jordan River Foundation – that EnACT introduced to the French market at the international handicraft fair, Maison & Objet, in Paris. A meeting with buyers from the purchasing department of the Louvre Museum followed.

‘We selected her because we thought her product, with some adjustments, could match the tastes of European buyers,’ said EnACT Regional Programme Coordinator Torek Farhadi. ‘Selling abroad is a question of contacts, marketing, knowing the clients and creating a brand. If you see something at the Louvre Museum, a brand is born.’

The meeting provided entry for Dajani’s company to the French market, which is considered to be the key to Europe. ‘The entry of our goods into the Louvre endorses our products as being of good design as well as good quality,’ said Dajani, who also sells her products at a flagship store at the InterContinental Hotel in Amman. ‘It endorses our company as one that is able to process orders, fulfil requirements and deliver in a manner expected in large establishments.’

The Louvre purchasing department, which has an annual budget of €70 million, buys products for the museum’s own stores and also supplies items to gift shops in 40 other state-run museums.

Based on the results of the 2010 survey, EnACT started organizing capacity-building workshops outside Amman in Arabic in order to reach artisans in remote regions. The workshops cover topics including product design, innovation and quality, packaging, competitive pricing, cost-effective sourcing, negotiation tactics and meeting buyer requirements.

One specific focus of the programme is to boost the participation of women and young people in export-related activities. Handicraft products are manufactured mostly by such groups in rural cooperatives scattered throughout the country and the training workshops equip them with the skills that eventually improve the competitiveness of their products abroad.

As a result of the EnACT-facilitated Louvre commission, Nadia Dajani decided to invest in three months of training for a group of 28 women, who came from underprivileged backgrounds and lived outside Amman, in the skills needed to make jewellery.

‘The more work we give the ladies, the more they upgrade their standard of living,’ Dajani reported. ‘Their confidence levels have grown. They are thinking about their future, they are thinking about what their daughters could be doing as the next generation is coming along.’

‘Nadia Dajani trains women for the private sector – she’s doing it to make money, not for charity,’ Farhadi said. ‘She creates sustainable jobs for the people she hires, because she brings them to a professional level.’

‘The government asked us to support the handicraft sector because this is an area that creates jobs much more flexibly than a chemical plant, for example,’ Farhadi continued. ‘Jobs are created not only through selling the product abroad, but indirectly, through promoting tourism as well.’

EnACT’s handicraft development project enjoys the support of Jordan’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. The government has launched a National Strategy for Tourism Handicrafts 2010–2015, which aims to preserve Jordan’s cultural heritage, generate business for local producers and increase the country’s touristic appeal.

‘These changes will have lasting effects,’ the EnACT Regional Programme Coordinator concluded. ‘These are success stories, when women and youth find jobs, because a lot of young people aspire to do the same thing. They follow trailblazers like Nadia Dajani, who, with the help of EnACT, has made young people want to follow in her footsteps.’