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Elisabetta Franchi, we met Katrina

Elisabetta Franchi, we met Katrina

Interview with Katrina Balaj, Brussels brand flagship store director.

Since the beginning of this editorial line on EF, many of you have reacted to the first article that introduced us to Betta (Elisabetta Franchi's nickname) and its brand, its universe, but also to the following ones that highlight the Fall-Winter 22 collection (a must-see!) or more recently the "Iconics" of the house.

Today we are happy to introduce you to Katrina, for those who don't know her yet, she is the director of EF in Brussels, who recently opened a sublime boutique at 12 Blvd de Waterloo, flagship store of the brand in Belgium and who has the project to open a second boutique in Luxembourg!
Katrina Balaj is a wonderful woman, full of positive energy, a real passionate character, sunny and with a lot of good ideas and new projects for the future of the Italian brand in Benelux. She granted us an interview, we added our "LB Inside" interview and asked her about her definition of luxury at the end... 
Here is the transcript.

LB > Katrina Balaj, thank you for giving us this interview. We are here in your sublime boutique, flagship store of the maison Elisabetta Franchi in Belgium, can you tell us the story of your encounter with this beautiful Italian brand? Did you meet Elisabetta? Tell us about this opening...

> I fell in love with the brand 8 years ago. I was looking for a dress for an event and I came across a dress in a 2nd hand luxury clothing store in Stockel, and the perfection of this dress had immediately charmed me.
The buttons were perfect, the cut was perfect, and the quality of the material was amazing.
I then looked for a store in the surroundings and I went to Paris to discover the official store of the brand, and I confess to you, I had stars in my eyes like my daughters at Disneyland!
During the covid, I was looking to buy a swimsuit, out of stock everywhere on the internet.
And I said to my husband, it's crazy that there is no store in Brussels! He said, send me an email and ask if they make franchises.
And following my email, I got an answer 3 days later! The brand was very interested in opening a store in Brussels, and they were waiting for a franchisee, 2 months later, I had the location, the order and the project underway... to open in January 2021!
I had the chance to meet Elisabetta Franchi, during an event in Albania, my country of origin, and it was an honor for me!

LB > Soon a new store will open in Luxembourg, how do you see the development of your collaboration with EF in the future and how do you recruit your teams, what are the qualities that you consider important to be part of the team of an EF store?

KB > Yes, 2nd store, 2nd project!
Indeed, I have a few Luxembourgish clients at the Brussels boutique who tell me that this brand would work great for them.
I told myself that if one day I had to open a second boutique, it would be in Luxembourg City.

The brand was already planning to find a franchisee to close the Benelux and I offered to open a 2nd one!
As far as recruitment is concerned, the brand is quite strong and in the field of Premium Luxury. So I don't have too much difficulty in finding employees.
On the other hand, our strong point is my own style of management: no unnecessary stress, no mandatory daily objectives.
A team that works as a team, that serves our clients as a team in a non-directive atmosphere.
I am the franchisee, but I am in the store to help my staff, to sell with them when it is busy, to be there for them and to listen to the clients' requests in order to make the best possible orders. I don't have to answer to anyone, so I do as I please.

As far as the qualities of my staff are concerned, of course they have to be used to working in luxury clothing, but the most important thing is the human side, the ability to work as a team, for the good of the boutique and the team, so that our clients feel good when they come to shop with us!

Katrina surrounded by her beautiful team Dilhan, Roxane, Alyson and a newly joining, Katrien who comes from Gucci (not on the pic).

LB > EF is a very creative Italian ready-to-wear brand that offers incredible quality in terms of materials and finishing. However, the clothes, bags and accessories of the collections remain at quite affordable prices, it's a choice I guess? What is the positioning of the brand Elisabetta Franchi?

KB > Yes, it's a choice on her part. She wants to keep the price range affordable for a premium brand so she can work the way she wants.
She is the only person who manages her company, she is not part of a big group.
She has a lot of franchises in the world, which is allowed by the fact that she has control over her company.
She also wants to keep this very wide range of collections, including accessories and leather goods.

LB > There is a lot of talk about the "Elisabetta Franchi style", the house is growing rapidly around the world, can you tell us about this particular style? What are the reasons for this success?

KB > She has no competition in her collections and in her price range, she understood it well... However, the quality of its articles remains impeccable and it is Made in Italy! And that's its success!
Her style is unmistakable: perfect cuts, precisely cut to accentuate the feminine forms of our clients, very glamorous models, very feminine, always a detail to make the difference.
Buttons worthy of the biggest brands, impeccable shirt collars, more than feminine suits with very corporate cuts, I'm not even talking about cocktail dresses and evening gowns that are the headline of the catwalks and red carpets of the biggest fashion shows worldwide!
She has a great imagination, she always finds the colors that will make the difference.
She is an incredible designer with an extraordinary universe!

ITV LB Inside
Short questions for short answers...

LB > More like "Night" or "Day"?
Katrina > Day

LB > More "Meat" or "Fish"?
Katrina > Fish

LB > More like "Diamond" or "Sapphire"?
Katrina > Diamond

LB > Plutot "Lion" or "Tiger"?
Katrina > Tiger

LB > More like "Fantastic" or "Comedy" movie?
Katrina > Comedy

LB > More like "Starter / Main Course" or "Main Course / Dessert"?
Katrina > Starter & main course... but Dessert is mandatory too!

LB >Would you prefer "Dog" or "Cat"?
Katrina > Cat

LB > More like "Sea" or "Mountain"?
Katrina > Sea

LB > More "Thai" or "Italian" cuisine?
Katrina > Italian!

ITV "DefLuxLB"
In your opinion Katrina, which definition of luxury is closest to your vision?

1. Oscar de la Renta: "Luxury is not buying expensive things, it's living in a way that you can appreciate them."
2. Henry Royce : "Luxury is when quality remains long after the price is forgotten".

Katrina > I choose the 2, from Henry Royce, nothing better than being able to buy beautiful things, which of course have a price, but which can be kept for a long time and enjoyed from generation to generation.

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