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Design Thinking: ROYCE New York

(Image credit ROYCE New York.)

In Graduate School, one of the buzzwords professors love to discuss is "Design Thinking." Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding (Dam and Siang). Design Thinking enables companies to understand consumer needs to serve their audience better. For this project, I contacted different companies to learn how organizations apply design thinking. I spoke with ROYCE New York's William Bauer to learn how the company incorporates its mission and vision into its products.

(Image credit @pierresnaps.)

1. What makes ROYCE New York different from other leather goods companies?

 Our small family business approach to everything—how we take care of our team, our vendors, our retail and corporate gifting partners, and our individual clients—has enabled us to transcend multiple generations of ownership, a daunting feat, particularly in an era of so much competition.


Take a look at our product reviews on Google, our website, or our department store—you will find some incredibly heartwarming anecdotes and "surprise and delight" stories of how we have gone above and beyond for our clients, regardless of how small or big the order was.


Establishing trust, reliability, and integrity among our stakeholders and manifesting thoughtfulness in everything we do are our core business tenets, which have allowed us to continue to grow.


Of course, our longstanding artisanal heritage and intangible pride in sourcing the best possible leather is also vital, but in today's competitive climate, simply making quality products isn't enough.


The entire brand experience, from the moment a potential client walks into one of our stores, clicks onto our website or calls our headquarters, has to be thoughtfully curated to the time they (or their gift recipient) receive their ROYCE product and in the years that follow for any client follow up, as we provide a lifetime warranty.


Our hope is that clients can really feel the care that is not only put into the products themselves but also appreciated. Every element of the customer journey feels deliberately thought through as if we created each step exclusively for them.


(Image courtesy of @pierresnaps.)

2. How does ROYCE New York honor its past and embrace innovation?

The designs that my father and grandfather created in the 1960s and 1970s often remain unchanged. We do have more modern-looking wallets and travel organizers focused on minimalist design, but there is definitely a place for the old-school customer who wants a classic dopp kit or trifold wallet.


We've diversified our color range—each year, we add another color to the collection. This past year, the color was sage green, but in previous years, we've added cobalt blue, taupe, dark green, lavender, and magenta in anticipation of what we think will be the Pantone color of the year.


We've also integrated RFID blocking technology to thwart identity theft in all of our travel organizers and men's and women's wallets – as a practical feature immersed within the lining of the products so as not to affect the design or dimensions.


Finally, we've created products that empower the modern traveler for a more seamless journey, such as tech cord organizers, travel adapters in leather cases, laptop sleeves, power banks in leather cases, and AirTag and AirPod carrying cases.


We have a fantastic design team, but at the heart of what drives our product design and decision-making for new products, colors, etc., is the feedback we passionately solicit from our customers to understand their wants and needs. We also have all of our company's team members travel with and use our products on a daily basis to ensure durability and discover any shortcomings.



(Images courtesy of ROYCE New York.)


3. How does ROYCE New York incorporate its mission and vision into its products?

Despite rising raw materials, shipping, and labor costs, we've absorbed those costs to ensure that no matter what, we put out a product that we are genuinely proud of. I find myself accountable to our customers, retail partners, and my family's predecessors. We have a "hall of fame" of our bestsellers from different eras. I always check quality to ensure that the craftsmanship of our recent production matches, if not exceeds, that of the products we created even before "Royce" was officially created. Consistency is what creates reliability, and reliability is what creates more excellent customer lifetime value, as ultimately, there is no better feeling than hearing from customers that their Royce wallet is just as good, if not better, than their previous one or bragging about all the countries and trips their Royce passport case and luggage tag have accompanied them on.



(Image credit ROYCE New York.)


4. What is the future of the company?

Honoring our heritage and safeguarding our long-held values while embracing modern times and continuing to elevate the ROYCE experience– whether it be in the context of product design, client value-add services, distribution, etc. – is the great challenge that I look forward to tackling for many years to come.


It's my incredible privilege to ensure that my family's proud leather craftsmanship tradition—one that stems back three generations before me—can continue to endure and thrive beyond my father and grandfather's greatest imagination. Often, this entails diverging from their team's business practices and conventions to ensure that we adapt to remain competitive with more contemporary brands.


While my father worked alongside me over the past ten years, we certainly butt heads over how the nature of business was evolving and how we, in turn, were changing. Ultimately, he saw the value in how we embraced eCommerce and moved away from our dependence on department store partners for better margins and cash flow, creating a more seamless, customer-centric shopping experience. One of the many upsides of being a self-financed and wholly owned small family business is that we can leverage the flexibility to pivot in ways that more prominent brands, or those who rely on external financing, simply can't.


Our future looks very promising because we've stuck to our core competencies by remaining true to our heritage craftsmanship and high-quality raw materials. We're focused on steady, sustainable growth rather than exponential growth. Most importantly, we have a tremendous team—a wonderful mix of young minds with fresh ideas and seasoned veterans who have been with us for over 20 years in some instances.

(Image credit ROYCE New York.)



Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog! Please reach out if you have any ideas for content, partnerships, and more!

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