For the second instalment of my ‘Spotlight on Societies’ series, I spoke to Tatiana Dubois, founder and president of the Global Luxury Business Society (GLBS) here at LSE. Tatiana is a first-year Global MSc in Management student from Paris, France.
Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to create the Global Luxury Business Society.
Tatiana: I’ve always been hugely interested in the luxury industry. My family ran a fashion magazine, so I naturally gravitated towards that in my personal interest and career choice. When I arrived at LSE, I wanted to join a society relevant to luxury business, learn about challenges in the industry and different angles to enter the field. But a society like this didn’t exist at LSE so I took the initiative to start one with classmates. We immediately had this same inspiration to demystify the industry – to make it more accessible by engaging in conversation with professionals across luxury sectors.
Our ambition is to provide a holistic vision of luxury business, going beyond the association of luxury as fashion and retail. To show that in fact, many more product categories and markets than people think have space for luxury products (such as automobiles, foods, cosmetics, services and more). There’s always room for a more premium product, and we wanted to shed light on how new technologies, ways of living and definitions of luxury shape the evolution of luxury business.
What I love about this project is being able to engage in collective creativity… We can be creative in trying out ideas and generate feedback promptly from one event to the next.
What is the core mission of the GLBS? And what are the themes in luxury you wish to explore?
Tatiana: Besides demystifying the industry, our core mission is to provide detailed knowledge into luxury businesses and identify positive practices common across sectors in the industry. We consider key questions such as: What is the common thread of values between individual fashion, watchmaking, cosmetics, wine and spirits companies that make them all luxury businesses? What differentiates luxury offerings from standard, ordinary products? To narrow in on case studies on specific brands, we invite speakers to hear about their experiences and what distinguishes their companies from others. We also investigate general themes that affect the industry, such as the turn towards sustainability, the rise of fair trade, women in business, digital spaces and social media, and discuss how companies across sectors tackle these issues.
What sorts of events are available to members of your society?
Tatiana: We currently host two kinds of events – Guest speaker spotlight sessions where an expert is invited to present on their business and their specific role, followed by a Q&A. Our other kind of event is the workshop series, which are hands-on sessions allowing members to engage with a speaker and interact amongst themselves.
So far, we’ve held 6 events. We’ve invited a CEO of an equestrian line of women’s clothing Miasuki, who spoke to us about the overlaps between sports and luxury, entrepreneurship and crisis management. We’ve also had a business and influencer strategist, who talked about the move of luxury brands towards digital spaces, how to engage customers on online platforms while maintaining authentic content with core values. We’ve gained insight into the human resources side of luxury through an event with a field coach from Louis Vuitton, with topics about self-leadership, knowing your motivations and thriving in your workplace.
We’ve also had an eCommerce manager from luxury watch brand IWC come in to speak about evolving ways of brand marketing, providing luxury experiences online vs in-store. We also hosted a product creation competition with UCL and Warwick University societies. Our most recent event was with a brand ambassador and professional storyteller from Moët Hennessy who explained storytelling in luxury business, and how powerful emotional investment and empathy can be for justifying price and product. We aim to present a wide range of perspectives, with people coming in from varied sectors so there’s eventually something of interest for everyone.
As we all know, this has been a particularly difficult year. Were there any challenges or unexpected benefits in creating your society at this time?
Tatiana: The main challenge setting up during COVID is raising awareness in LSE about our society. We’ve tried our best to promote the society online through social media platforms. But as much as we’re all connected, it still makes a difference not being physically on campus, with a stand and greater visibility. Awareness of our society is largely limited to courses our members are in, and not university-wide. But I am hopeful that this will change after COVID. On the bright side, there are indeed benefits to starting our society during COVID.
When I reached out to guest speakers, I realised I could contact people anywhere in the world, and they didn’t have to physically show up to LSE. So, all of a sudden, the avenues for reaching people weren’t limited to the UK or London, I could email someone halfway across the world and all they had to do was click a zoom link. This enables us to transcend physical constraints, reduce travel costs and engage across geographical boundaries to gain a global outlook.
Join us, the membership is worth it! If you have an interest in the industry, want to expand your knowledge and meet new people, you’ll fit right in. Our events are extremely diverse, and there’s going to be something for everyone.
What is your favourite part of being involved with the GLBS?
Tatiana: My favourite part is being able to work on a committee with friends. We’re a group of five girls who connected because of a shared interest in luxury business. There’s a lot of synergy in our team because we’re each interested in very different aspects of luxury business and bring distinct perspectives to the table. This creates a lot of momentum and a stimulating environment for discussion.
What I love about this project is being able to engage in collective creativity. Because we founded the society, there’s no standard or benchmark on what is done in the past, so it’s completely up to us to decide where this goes. We can be creative in trying out ideas and generate feedback promptly from one event to the next. The fact that we’re five girls undertaking this project outside of our studies and supporting each other feels especially empowering.
Thank you for your time. What would you like to say to LSE students who are interested in joining the GLBS?
Tatiana: Join us, the membership is worth it! If you have an interest in the industry, want to expand your knowledge and meet new people, you’ll fit right in. Our events are extremely diverse, and there’s going to be something for everyone. We’ve done events on wines and spirits, horse riding, watches, and social media and more, with all sorts of different topics and people come in to speak. Through these events, we strive to create a strong network between students and professionals.