We buy books, trips and shoes online. What about diamonds?

Steven Boelens’ parents had a plant and flower business − which is how young Steven became interested in products that are authentic, tangible and natural. As he grew older, he realised that products produced by nature are not necessarily ‘perfect’ − but that “their imperfections are the source of their greatest beauty and natural charm.”

Today, Steven is the co-founder of Baunat Diamonds, an Antwerp-based company that sells high-quality diamond jewellery worldwide. They’ve chosen to avoid the middleman and offer their collections online. But that approach immediately poses major challenges in a business in which customers want to see and feel their products and to buy from people they trust.

So why is Baunat Diamonds’ e-Boutique doing so well? “We focus on very high-quality diamonds and craftsmanship. And our online business model allows us to offer exquisite jewels at excellent prices.” Indeed, by managing everything, from marketing to stock levels, through the internet, Baunat can deliver much higher value for an attractive price.

“My year at Vlerick (Masters in Marketing Management, 2001) was ‘work hard, play hard’. Vlerick is the ideal environment for entrepreneurial stimulation and networking − an environment that inspires you to be innovative and to create something from scratch.” Sounds like planting a seed … and growing it into a flourishing business!

Key message:
“It’s important to learn from your mistakes and keep trying. You must also love what you do − because then you will do it with passion and be quite good at it.”

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