As a child, Valery Klein was in awe of his father's achievements as a traditional crystal maker. So, when it was time to choose a profession, Klein was naturally attracted to this noble material that can be used to create objects of wonder. "Crystal is an extraordinary substance with multiple properties that can be worked with different colors to create truly unique products," he says. Decorative art, jewels, dishware, lighting, furniture – it is all possible with crystal.
Valery Klein is an artisan who benefited from "old-fashioned" training: after becoming an apprentice at age 14, he followed a career as a journeyman for seven years. However, Klein is not anchored to the past and it is precisely by combining ancestral expertise with new technologies that he found his way and developed a flourishing business.
Adapting to a changing world
Klein’s journey started in 1982, when he moved to Baccarat, the world capital of crystal, and fell in love with the trade. Eventually, he opened his own shop in Vallauris, near Cannes. In his 200-square-meter gallery and workshop, Klein offers a wide range of products, all made by hand. Very quickly, the master artisan became aware of a world where buying habits and trends change. So Klein diversified, even creating a range of contemporary furniture combining crystal, steel, wood and lead.
Klein also started to think about distribution, to better promote his glittering world at home and abroad. "When I started 30 years ago, the work was more traditional, with physical sales, resellers and suppliers. However, the world is changing, and buying behavior is changing with it. For some years now, I have been thinking about selling on the Internet," Klein says. "The opening of a shop dedicated to artisans like me on Amazon's marketplace finally helped me take the plunge."
A springboard to export
At the head of his small company, Klein joined Amazon Handmade in 2016. A year later, he already saw a significant increase in sales: more than 25% of his business now goes through Amazon. "Most of my e-commerce strategy is based on the Amazon site. Its reputation is exceptional and the philosophy of handcrafted products at competitive prices supported by the Handmade online boutique corresponds to ours: objects made with respect for a job well done. Moreover, being present on Amazon is a guarantee of quality, for me as well as for my clients," he explains.
By embracing e-commerce, l’Artisan du Cristal has considerably rejuvenated its clientele and extended the influence of its expertise - and one of the jewels of French industry - throughout Europe. Valery Klein sells not only in France but also in Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain, thanks to how easy Amazon makes selling internationally. To Klein, this is proof that passion, tradition and innovation make an excellent combination. They have also engendered a protégé: Klein’s daughter has recently joined the family business as a creator and continues the adventure in fine crystal artisanship.