October’s – ‘The Renegade Issue’ – Download Now
Words & Creative Direction: Amy Sessions
Photography: Greg Adamski
Videographer: Joachim Guay
Production: Olivia Morris
Makeup: Jefferson Rivera
Hair Stylist: Davon Mercado
Fashion Assistant: Sarah Joseph
All fashion at Ounass and Matchesfashion
With special thanks to The Capital Club
Melika Yazdjerdi, Co-Founder | Chief Strategist at Ashfields Consultancies tells us what it takes to carve a career in Horology and how thinking outside the box makes all the difference.
What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine?
Right after I wake up, I meditate for 10mins and spend about 25 to get ready and then head to the office.
What are the pillars of the brand and how did you define why these were important?
Ashfields was established to fill a very important gap in the market – curated service for each client and transparency. Our approach was very different; we wanted to go in the opposite direction of what the standard approach was. We knew if we wanted to differentiate ourselves, we needed to understand and really listen to what the client wanted and compliment that with the right portfolio of services and products. This has been crucial to our success and I think businesses underestimate the importance of giving clients what they want rather than what they think the clients need.
How did you know it was the right time to make the leap in doing something yourself and how did it come about?
I had been wanting to do something on my own for a very long time, but I guess you can say I was waiting for the right time. The pandemic allowed me to think and evaluate what it is that I wanted to do and also gave me the courage to take the leap when everyone advise against it. Ashfields was the brainchild of my partner, Hamdan Al Hudaidi and it was the early days of the quarantine when he decided to set up a horology consultancy. It was a chance conversation that gave us both the idea of working together to establish something that was going to change the way clients were seen in the watch industry. After the establishment of Ashfields, we decided to start working on setting up the Perpétuel Gallery, which was still in the early days of Ashfields.
How did your previous roles prepare you for this leap and is there ever a right time?
Every milestone in the past, whether personally or professionally and every step in my career was subconsciously preparing me for this role. I don’t think there is ever a right time for taking a major step in your life but what is for certain, when that moment arrives you know. Even if you didn’t expect it or had a completely different plan in mind when the moment arrives every fiber of your being emboldened you to take the leap. Believe me, you will know!
How does being able to think outside the box equip you to build a strategy that scales the business?
During the early stages of both Ashfields and Perpétuel, it was quite challenging to articulate what it was that we did. I can understand how confusing it must have been, here we are, new kids on the block taking very bold steps. But persistence and confidence in our strategy paid off and once we had our first client and partner, the domino effect took charge. In a short time, we had clients approaching us, telling us that they heard about us or want to come to see us as they were curious to know what it was that we did. Some clients just wanted to meet Hamdan to talk watches and find out what Horology Consultancy actually is. After our first collaboration with Baltic, we had brands approaching Perpétuel to start a collaboration with us. We have truly been blessed to work with the most amazing clients and partners who share the same values as us.
Do you feel more drawn to the creative or the business side of the brand?
I am a strategist at heart and that is a combination of both business and creativity. It’s just like chess – you are constantly moving pieces around to improve, create, assess, convert and most importantly wait for the right time to make your move.
What has been the biggest challenge since launching and how did you navigate this?
The biggest challenge was trying to articulate our business ethos and not having to change because the market did not understand our business model. It took time and effort to fine-tune our direction, but we stayed consistent and approached each client differently. When you have strong values paired with single-minded determination, challenges become the steppingstone for your foundation.
Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path?
Personally, the biggest influence in my life was my late mother. She really shaped and laid the foundation for the person I am today. She taught me compassion, diplomacy, patience, and most importantly, it was my duty to help those who needed my help. Professional, my husband has been the most important mentor in my life. He taught me how to always be the best version of myself and never settle for anything less than almost perfect. All the lessons in my personal and professional life have allowed me to approach our business differently. You need to listen, understand what your clients want from you and deliver beyond their expectations – every time.
“Businesses underestimate the importance of giving clients what they want rather than what they think the clients need.”
Which attributes in terms of Horology are most important when considering investing?
Knowing why you are buying a timepiece in the first place is the most important aspect of the decision. I am not a collector, but my purchases are driven by my love for anything vintage or inspired by. If you are only purchasing a watch for investment, the driving points are very different, and this also depends on whether you are buying from the current or the vintage market. You can also invest in watches for legacy reasons, meaning creating a family heirloom or you can invest in a timepiece for purely financial reasons. Reasons can also change depending on where you are in your investment or collecting cycle. We know collectors who liquidate their collection to fund their next investment piece because they are no longer emotionally attached to the previous collection. You need to zero in on the main factor that is driving your decision to purchase.
Which watches you’ve invested in are special to you and why?
To celebrate the launch of Ashfields, my business partner helped find a vintage Patek Philippe from the late 90s. This is one of the most important pieces in my collection. It reminds me of the beginning of my new journey but also reinforces my love for vintage.
What is luxury in today’s market?
To define luxury is difficult as everyone’s perception is quite different. In my opinion, luxury is not about the accumulation of high-end products, it is about discretion and exclusivity. In the words of Leonardo da Vinci, ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. True luxury is about building long-lasting relationships in any given trade. It is about quality, craftsmanship, legacy and history and in taking those values and delivering it in the form of a service or product that embodies those pillars. Imagine a client who has everything or the means to purchase anything they want; you need to deliver an experience that will far exceed the expectation of such clients and you need to do that all time, every time. That in my opinion is luxury.
What advice would you give to your younger self starting out?
Always follow your instinct and never let allow anyone to make you second guess yourself. You know who you are; go out there and be the best version of yourself.
This is The Renegade Issue, and we see thinking outside the box as a positive thing. Who for you is a renegade or what for you embodies this approach to life?
Without a doubt, Steve Jobs. He embodied being a renegade and never apologized for it. Many viewed his approach as unorthodox, but I think he was seeking perfection where others would settle for the ordinary. He did not just say what he would do, he showed the world that there was a completely new way of doing things and in an industry do deeply rooted in their comfort, Steve Jobs forever changed the way we live our connected lives.
When have you had to take this approach yourself?
Most recently, I have been able to be the complete version of myself and I know we are navigating new waters, but the result of this bold voyage will allow us to send ripples through the industry. We are taking steps where others did not venture, and the results have been amazing. I know the approach was bold, but I was not ready to settle for ordinary.
October’s – ‘The Renegade Issue’ – Download Now
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