Laurent Guerrier is a self-made entrepreneur with an expertise in luxury brand management. He is especially recognized in the industry for his creativity, interpersonal skills and knowledge in luxury, fashion, and accessory retail and wholesale networks.
Laurent’s career started in 1991 at Hermes where he worked his way up to a General Manager position for Group divisions in the US. After receiving his MBA in Europe, he moved to NYC and created Lutège, a label which made custom-made creations. From there, he launched a nonprofit organization called 4th Avenue Luxury Executive Club, which unites CEOs and top executives in the luxury industry.
His passion for talent empowerment and intuitive skills brought him to build Luxe Avenue, a recruitment agency that connects talent with industry leaders. Because of all his accomplishments, LivelyMag.com sought out Laurent for an interview to gain some insight on how he became the successful entrepreneur he is today.
Q: What type of companies and positions do you recruit individuals for?
Laurent: Luxe Avenue (www.luxeavenue.com) is a recruiting and executive search firm specialized in luxury, fashion and lifestyle. When Luxe Avenue was founded in 2006, we started by helping a handful of luxury brands with their retail management positions. Our first clients’ support was instrumental for Luxe Avenue to gradually upgrade and reach the top executive management level assignments. Today, we are proud to back the most prestigious luxury firms in their recruiting processes. Among our latest completed assignments are two Chief Financial Officers, one Visual Director and one EVP-General Manager.
Q: What was your inspiration for starting your own company?
Laurent: There are different motivation factors to start a company: some of us want to be recognized; some of us want to be wealthy; others want to be independent. Being independent was my key motivation; of course, when choosing a career path, you have to find the crossroad between what you are good at and what you love to do. Having worked for almost fifteen years in luxury prior to starting up Luxe Avenue, I had owned expertise and a large network. Therefore it seemed obvious to me that I had to start a business in the luxury sector.
Q: What is it about the European culture that you feel is a unique contribution to the US market?
Laurent: My staff and I have been working within luxury firms for many years. We believe that one of our greatest assets is to know the business from an “insiders” perspective. Conceptual expertise is not enough, it is important for a head-hunter to have experienced what makes the wheels of luxury turn. We also differentiate ourselves from our competitors in our sensibility towards the culture of European companies. We claim a specific DNA leading to a special ability to service our clients in sourcing talents.
Q: What are some challenges to recruiting for the luxury industry?
Laurent: In the past years, our clients were open to meet profiles that were a little bit “out of the box”. The recent economic crisis pushed luxury companies to look for talents that know the luxury market inside and out. The relevant experience became a prominent factor and so are the skills. Therefore, individuals who are interested in the fashion and luxury industry early are ahead of the curve over those who are looking for a change in their career path.
Q: What kinds of qualities/skills stand out to you when sourcing talent to your clients?
Laurent: In our opinion, the first step in executive search is to well-define what the company is looking for in an individual and therefore create an appealing and detailed job description. From this we can look for the perfect match evaluating 5 important facets:
- Technical skills
- Experience in the luxury industry
- A readable career path and a consistency in career moves
- A cultural fit between the personality and the company
- A global perspective with languages skills
Q: Since the Chinese luxury market has been consistently growing, how has that impacted your alliances in Asia?
Laurent: There is a huge shortage of talents in the Luxury market in China – Hong Kong following the same pattern with a smaller magnitude. It resolves in a very interesting phenomenon where the Chinese companies need to recruit from Europe and America with a focus on Asian-European and Asian-American background candidates. With headquarters in New York and satellite offices in Paris and Hong Kong, we are well positioned to smoothly organize the current “brain drain” of the fashion and luxury industry.
Q: In addition to Luxe Avenue, you also created 4th Avenue. Can you explain how you started this organization and how it’s related to Luxe Avenue?
Laurent: When the co-founder of 4th Avenue (www.4thavenue.org) and I decided to launch the Club, Luxe Avenue was still a start-up. They have always been two distinct entities with two distinct goals.
4th Avenue – a non profit organization funded by five sponsors – was created at a time we thought there was a need for a “hybrid group” in opposition to the already established luxury organizations (Luxury Marketing Council, Comité Colbert and Fondazione Altagamma) to encourage informal communication and exchange between professionals of our sector. Today, our executive club can count 120+ members (CEO and Senior Executives in luxury) and holds five professional events a year in New York.
The club also initiated the 4th Avenue Foundation, which is undertaking the 4th Avenue Foundation Job Shadow Program in partnership with Junior Achievements of New York. This program introduces students to careers in the luxury industry by inviting them to witness a CEO of the luxury market for half a day. The program was created to motivate and inspire young students to explore the possibilities of a career in our business.