One of the primary concerns for South Asian families is to continuously work on preserving their culture in the western world. Many times it’s done with deliberate effort through cultural teachings, relaying of traditions and constantly encouraging the use of our languages in our daily lives. But a positive and impactful shift that we’re seeing within our communities is the continuation of legacies built by immigrant parents.
We had a chance to speak to Aqib Virani — the new CEO of Virani Jewelers who gave us insight into the world of Virani Jewelers. Carrying on his family’s heritage and legacy is of utmost importance to Virani.
With a multitude of jewelers in the South Asian market, Virani Jewelers have gained a competitive advantage with a loyal customer base of 30 years and a strong reputation in the community. The Virani name represents a pioneer in the industry, as Virani’s father was one of the very first jewelers who introduced 22K gold from India to the U.S.
[Regardless] of how long we’ve been in this industry, our advantage comes from long-standing returning clients who know that we understand the modern woman and her desires. We understand how to curate and fairly price fine jewelry pieces that cater to her, especially when it comes to engagement and bridal jewelry, shared Virani.
Although kicking off his career in the finance industry, where he learned the ethics of hard work and how to create himself as a professional, Virani knew that type of environment will not be conducive to his long term goals. Coming from a family of business owners, entrepreneurship ran in his blood, so it wasn’t long before he took his expertise and entrepreneurial style to a traditional way of doing business to join the family’s endeavors.
I knew that I would eventually follow in the footsteps of the generations before me, but it was important for me to carve my own path on how I would do so. I wanted to be innovative and creative. If I was going to be the next generation to carry on the family business, I didn’t want to just be handed a business to run. I wanted to truly take things to the next level and help that legacy continue in a truly fascinating way.
Safe to say his work in the finance industry did not go to vain, Virani attributes his experience in the industry to learn about the importance of relationship-building — a skill set he feels is essential in operating any business, especially determining the success of a business. Relationship management isn’t the only thing that Virani intends on bringing to the family business. He truly believes in the power of bridging the age-old and new school way of doing business to propel it towards success.
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And that’s exactly what he did — taking a decades-long business and bringing a new age way of thinking and entrepreneurship to elevate it from a brick and mortar storefront to an e-commerce business tailored towards fine-tuning the way you shop for fine quality jewelry.
As I mentioned before, the importance of having a strong digital presence, especially on social media, is a new thing for a lot of businesses that have been in their industries for generations. It changes everything from the way we now advertise, market and build relationships. My father didn’t have that, neither did my grandfather before him. Therefore the way they continue to conduct business looks different.
I have no choice but to incorporate the digital world into the family business. That’s the only way that we will continue a successful brand. 30 years from now, the generation after us will also have to keep up with the changes of the times to continue the business. And I may not be privy to what those changes will be. But it will be their responsibility to incorporate it for the sake of continuing our legacy.
With any family endeavour, there are bound to be ups and downs, considering two generations and approaches to entrepreneurship are coming together.
The main pro to working with family is that we trust each other and we know that everyone is working for the greater good of the business’s success. We can vocalize our ideas and disagreements without holding back.
The downside to working with family is the generational gaps which lead to different business ideologies: The older generation wants to stick to the “tried and true” business practices. Meanwhile, newer generations understand the importance of things like a strong digital presence. The differentiating understanding of what constitutes as best practices often lead to disagreements. But in the end, we always figure it out and make it work, shared Virani.
Although Virani brings an array of modern business practices to the table, such as the introduction of the digital age, he values and makes it his responsibility to relay the family heritage by preserving the true essence of the business for generations to come.
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He believes that each generation will add their own learnings, but the foundational aspect of the business is built upon certain core values and the family’s heritage that represent the family legacy.
Passing down our family’s heritage and business to the next generation is absolutely necessary for the survival of the business. Our brand and our family’s legacy depends on it. [The] essence of what we represent and the story that we tell of South Asian culture, can not and should not ever be lost. That is our responsibility, said Virani.
Virani’s vision is to not only digitize the business to stay competitive and relevant in its industry, but he also hopes to scale the business by expanding outreach to other ethnicities. He mentions that the long-term success of a business lies in having something for everyone, without compromising the core of the brand.
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However, more than anything Virani wants to share the beauty of South Asian culture. Rooted in centuries-long history layered with various “languages, deities and celebrations.”
We are a festive and colorful people who love to celebrate our culture and traditions in the midst of family and community. For us, that is important. In any aspect of our heritage, you will find that family and community is at the center, said Virani.