Over the years, Swarovski expanded into making crystal components for chandeliers, industrial glass-cutting machines and optical scopes for binoculars and guns. In the late 1970s the company, based in Wattens, Austria, also became known by collectors who bought its figurines and tree ornaments.
But Swarovski was never as famous as its aristocratic rivals, such as Baccarat and Waterford Wedgewood, in the table-top business. The company had to coach consumers how to pronounce its name: "We tell people to think of the athlete who broke his leg on the slopes-he ‘swore off skis,’ " says Daniel Cohen, president of Swarovski USA and a cousin to Ms. Swarovski.
Dismayed by her company’s dowdy image, Ms. Swarovski decided it was time for a makeover. One of 30 family members working for the company, she took on the job as head of international communications for the brand in 1998. Raised in Wattens and educated at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, she worked in New York at art galleries and as a fashion publicist.
She borrowed from the playbbook of Evian, which generated buzz with memorable moments such as the time in the early ‘90s when supermodel Kate Moss strode down Calvin Klein’s fashion-show runway swilling a bottle of the French water.
In 1999, the blond and gregarious Ms. Swarovski, who is now based in London, began courting local designers such as Alexander McQueen. Armed with a small promotional budget of $200,000, she offered some designers $20,000 in fashion-show financing and materials as long as they promised to make at least four or five outfits using Swarovski crystals. But these crystals couldn’t be anonymous components like zippers or buttons. The designers agreed to credit Swarovski in their fashion-show program and add the silver hangtag to their clothes.
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