Whatever your expectations of Jim Shreve, chances are, you will be somewhat missing something. As President and CEO of North America for Baccarat, Jim is determined to take the iconic brand to areas yet unexplored. Dynamic, eclectic, eccentric even, with a unique style, and a personality to match, Jim is a new breed in leadership, he lives the ethos of his brand every day.
However, to call him eclectic doesn’t do justice to the acumen he has displayed in global leadership positions with brands such as Diesel, where he was the Head of Global Merchandising for nearly six years, and Faconnable as the Men’s General Merchandise Manager in Europe. An astute observer of the marketplace with a practiced eye toward trends and customer behaviors, Jim has been able to carve an enviable niche as a taste arbiter, culminating with his current position with Baccarat.
Jim spent an afternoon with us in the Newport Beach marina onboard the luxurious Solaris 58 performance sailing yacht, courtesy of our friends at Global Ocean Club. (special mention to our captain for the day, Chadwick Allenbaugh, who expertly took us on a beautiful cruise in the waters off the Newport coast.) After settling down on this magnificent vessel on a glorious summer afternoon, Jim was kind enough to submit himself to our questions.
NOBLEMAN: What do you say to people who state that the brand is somewhat old-fashioned?
JIM SHREVE: Well… for a long time, it was! My mission has been to redefine what the expectations people have of crystal glassware, and that for the most part, they have been wrong (the expectations, not the people).
N: In your view, what were those expectations?
JS: You know, your grandparents’ glassware that only appeared for Holidays and special occasions! In all seriousness, we want our customers to reconcile with the idea that our crystal glassware is meant to be used every day. It is incredibly strong and resilient (as if on cue, one glass drops on the deck unscathed) and can be used in various settings and circumstances.
N: You have an extensive background in fashion. Is there a connection between fashion and Baccarat?
JS: There is a tremendous connection between the two worlds. Lest we forget, Baccarat is a luxury gifting company, and we certainly view it the same as we do brands such as Channel, Dior, and Tom Ford. We used our products to accessorize tables and events just like a stylist would help his or her clients looking their best.
N: Who is the typical Baccarat customer?
JS: There is no such thing. We are a 254 year-old brand. Our customers have one single thing in common, they all love beautiful things.
N: How vital is the North American market to Baccarat?
JS: It is a very important piece of our business. The American customer tends to adapt to a changing marketplace quickly, and is more willing to take chances on new products or trends. Things like tradition and heritage tend to be a bit less of a factor here, where people just want a great product that they can use everyday, which is ultimately what we want our customers to know; Baccarat is meant to be used everyday!
N: Let’s switch topics to something that is on everyone’s mind lately; social media, and the rising tide that are “influencers” What are your thoughts?
JS: Well… I am not sure that I am a big fan of the whole influencer business. We love social media, and there is true power in it, used properly, of course. The idea of having people telling other people what they should or shouldn’t like is a bit odd to me. When people hold a glass made by Baccarat, and they feel how spectacular it is, this is how we convince our potential customers. We truly favor the “experiential” aspect of marketing by having one-of-a-kind activations that give our customers an authentic way to experience our products.
N: Let’s talk tattoos… it’s not a common thing for a CEO of a 250-year old brand to be covered in them. (fair disclosure: the author is also covered in tattoos…) What do they mean to you?
JS: As we’ve discussed before starting the interview, tattoos are a bit of a diary, aren’t they? A way to chronicle life in a very unique and personal way. They tell a story, my story.
N: So, are we done, or is there room for more?
JS: There is always room for more.
Words by Yves Le Sieur, Executive Editor, NOBLEMAN Magazine
Photography by Chris Glenn
Shot on the Solaris 58, courtesy of Solaris Yachts, special thanks to Chadwick Allenbaugh
Eyewear courtesy of Leisure Society
Glassware courtesy of Baccarat