Luxury is about so much more than expensive goods, class, or a certain look. Luxury is a lifestyle and culture of care and quality and if anyone understands that and embodies that it is Steeve Valbrun. Steeve has been one of our greatest inspirations, and his love of Haiti is in another class altogether. His decade long success in the luxury retail industry includes time with such icons as Cartier, Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, and he’s currently Brand Ambassador at Judith Lieber Couture. His success isn’t just in business, he has experience in high fashion as well. We all remember seeing Steeve’s perfect build walk down the runway at Perfection in Haiti, which makes this Q&A even more special. We hope you will take heed to his words because we are…
When you hear the word “HaitiLuxe” what comes to mind? What do you consider Haiti’s luxuries?
There’s a reason why Haiti is thought of as the ‘Soul of the Caribbean.’ There’s a certain vibe we have that weaves its way into everything we do. So when I think of HaitiLuxe – I think of culture and fashion, food and music, dancing and art because it’s all related. We have our own unique perspective and flavor that stands out all by itself. I think of beauty and sophistication also. It is my desire, now more than ever, to share what I already knows exists in Haiti with the world.
You were Judith Lieber’s #1 sales person of the year for three years in a row, what practices lead you to that honor?
While I am not a sales person per se right now, I would say that the best practices for individuals selling luxury goods include
- providing excellent service, building trust and always being proactive.
I say providing excellent service because my clients are spending their hard earned money on what I believe is truly a collector’s item. They need to know the history of the brand, the production process and really feel that the item is special. Judith Leiber Couture bags and clutches really are quite amazing, and it’s my job to convey that. I would go out of my way to make sure the client knows that they are becoming part of a larger family of collectors and that I would be there to answer any questions they have or work with them on any issues that might arise at their time of purchase or in the future.
Building trust is important because that’s the basis of any successful ongoing relationship. I made it a point to find out what my clients interests were: if they were purchasing the bag for themselves or someone else; the colors they preferred or the styles they were interested in. I considered myself part of their glam team on the ground and when I would reach out to them, it would be because I had an item that was either perfect for them or from them as a gift to someone else.
Last, it’s important to be proactive. When a new collection came in,not only did I inform my clients but I recommended bags to them, especially the collectors. I sent out cards for birthdays and holidays and I took care to write personal notes on each of them. It was a way to show my clients that I was thankful for their business.
You recently took a trip to Haiti, are there any particular places (restaurant, lounge, club, art gallery) you would recommend?
I have so many recommendations…and I’m going to list quite a few. For clubbing: Club Yanvalou, Hotel Oloffson on Thursdays, and Fridays, Karibe roof top, drinks at The View at the Belvedere complex in Petion Ville; dinner at Mosaique, La Reserve or Papaye Restaurants. Also, Abaka Bay Resort at Ile a Vache was breathtaking. I love the Fine Art at Ateliers Jerome.
What are the three must haves for Haitians ?
My 3 must-haves for Haitians are a bottle of Rhum Barbancourt (5 stars), an Emeline Michel CD, Griot and Lambi!
What’s next for Steeve Valbrun?
One day I would love to create a fashion brand. I love to travel and Southeast Asia is next on my list of destinations but that is an ongoing passion. Also, I am interested in raising awareness with respect to the beauty of Haiti (it’s time for a different narrative) as well as starting a foundation for Haitian children. And one day, I expect to be back in Haiti (although I will always have a love affair with New York City), living by the beach and waking up to the sound of crashing waves.
Thank you for your time, Steeve! We sincerely appreciate it! We look forward to what you have in store for us next because we know it will be luxurious!
Pictures courtesy of Steeve Valbrun