Beatriz Gonzalez Cristoba heads this leading Parisian brand which has teamed up with the Manne family from Qatar to open several Hermès boutiques in the Middle East.
The Hermès Group, founded in 1837, designs, develops and markets high-quality products across a wide range of niche markets and international locations including Qatar, Dubai, Bahrain, Beirut—and now Kuwait—where I had an opportunity to meet with Beatriz Cristoba to talk about her professional life.
As a woman do you find it more difficult to be in your position especially in the Middle East or do you face the same challenges everywhere? What is the truth? Is it an obstacle or opportunity?
I have no problems at all. Business protocol everywhere is built on respect and it’s the foundation of success. So I had this feeling everywhere I went during all my business negotiations.
How do you successfully bridge the gap between working hours and leisure ?
I love my work so I make my work pleasant. I feel that a nice ambiance at work every day is always a great setup. And I’m lucky to be working in a high quality sector such as this.
Are you more feared or loved at work?
Oh, definitely not feared. I open doors for people and try to help them.
What was your contribution to the opening of Hermès in this region?
The opening of the Hermès Boutiques in the Middle East marks the most beautiful moments of my career. It all began years ago when I studied at an American college in Paris. It was a very cosmopolitan place where I had the chance to meet students from all over the Middle East—Lebanese, Kuwaiti, etc. I am familiar with these cultures with their love of elegance, sophistication and love of quality.
You are a Spanish woman working for a very Parisian brand opening in Kuwait. Is this one of the best features of globalization?
The world is so big! Frontiers are no problem with a brand such as Hermès that is focused on bringing modernity and equal opportunity everywhere.
In previous interviews, you’ve described Hermès as ‘effortless elegance’. Is this the kind of luxury today’s women desire? What is luxury for you?
Many people define Luxury as Silence, Space, Time, etc. But I like to think of it asnon-negotiable quality. For me the merger between quality and tradition is Luxury.
Is this your first visit to Kuwait with the opening of Hermès here? What do you think of Kuwaiti women? They’ve anticipitated your opening in town for a long time!
A : I’ve been here several times and of course some Kuwaiti women are my friends! But in short they’re entrepreneurs, highly educated, dynamic and tasteful. They love to play with colours, know quality and love accesories.
Importantly in the Middle East, women still have the gestures when they speak. It is the entire body that moves to communicate. While in Europe, women tend to forget this feminine touch because we are always in a hurry.
Why al-Hamra mall, and in the future any Hermès project exclusive to Kuwait?
The al-Hamra mall is the heart of Kuwait! No exclusive project yet . . . but I’ll keep in touch.