During her school days in St. Michaelisdonn, a German village of 3,000 souls, Fatima Massalme often stood in front of the small jewelry shop in Johannssenstrasse to admire the glittering jewelry on display. She was especially thrilled by the beautiful watches. And she remembers vividly the magic moment during a trip to Hamburg when she pressed her nose against the shop window of the Wempe showroom on Jungfernstieg. Back then she was 12 years old, and what she saw was a revelation: earrings in playful designs, fantastic watches, necklaces and rings made of gold in simple or daring shapes, adorned with valuable gems — all displayed with perfect lighting. It was magnificent!
The jewelry ambassador
Can the rings, necklaces, and bracelets of a jewelry collection tell stories? What emotions does this jewelry call forth in its wearers? And can Wempe customers have an influence on the further development of a collection? Fatima Massalme can answer these questions, because she’s the Brand Manager for Wempe jewelry and BY KIM jewelry. Her expertise, unusual capacity for empathy, and personal history make her the perfect ambassador of jewelry.
This passion for collecting became an ever larger part of my life,” Fatima Massalme says. Today, 35 years after her trip to Hamburg, she is the Brand Manager for jewelry at Wempe. In this function she is also responsible for the BY KIM brand. In other words, Fatima Massalme is the ambassador of this brand, which was created in 2000 by Wempe’s owner, Kim-Eva Wempe, and has been constantly refined ever since.
After graduating from high school, Fatima Massalme left her home town and moved to southern Germany to study chemistry — a career path completely unrelated to jewelry. “Back then we were regarded as exotic multiculturals. My father is Syrian and my mother is German,” she says. During her student years she had a part-time job at a jeweler’s shop. There her old passion for the world of jewelry and watches flared up again. She bid farewell to her academic career and completed an advanced training course at the jeweler’s shop.
Her father supported her decision, telling her, “If this is what you want to do, do it right and do it with passion.”
Subsequently she answered a vacancies ad and was hired by the Wempe showroom on Maximilianstrasse in Munich. She became a member of General Manager Dietmar Schülein’s team on April 1, 1998. “I’m very grateful to him,” says Fatima Massalme. “He trusted me enough to let me do things on my own. That’s how I found my niche: watches.” Massalme says she is still a walking watch encyclopedia today. When Dietmar Schülein suggested that she take advanced courses in jewelry as well, her career took off like a rocket. “I worked hard at workshops, attended lots of trade fairs, and absorbed all the knowledge I could about jewelry,” she says. For six years in a row, she was the best Wempe salesperson worldwide.
In 2010 it was obvious that Fatima Massalme was perfect for the job of Brand Manager. This woman, who loved jewelry and knew all about it, now became the intermediary who was expected to expedite communication in every direction between designers, buyers, salespeople, customers, and the management, connect all of the company’s levels with one another, and enhance the brand’s image. Her most important tools for this job are the optimistic spirit with which she fills every room she enters, her infectious enthusiasm and, last but not least, her open way of communicating with everyone. Her father taught her the golden rule that has accompanied her throughout her career:
“First listen to what other people have to say. You can talk later.”
What are the tasks a Brand Manager has to deal with?
For instance, there are the various jewelry workshops that she heads. Here the salespeople from the showrooms are familiarized with the new jewelry lines and collections. There are also lots of business trips, during which she reinforces her contacts and presents the new collections to customers.
Our customers give us a great deal of information. Their wishes and perceptions influence us in many areas, ranging from sales to design and the structuring of our collections. If a hook doesn’t sit right or a supplementary part is desired, we respond to the customer’s wishes.
Massalme also has her jours fixes, when her divers experiences at all levels of the company flow together while existing collections are being expanded or new ones are being prepared. Like a satellite, Fatima Massalme circles around the world of the brand, collects information in one place, passes it along in another, gathers suggestions from every direction, and draws conclusions. This is how she builds up a feeling and an image for the brand, stone by stone. Through her work, BY KIM jewelry gains greater depth and vitality — one might even say it develops a soul.
One very concrete example of her work is the BY KIM brand handbook. “In this handbook we’ve documented the brand’s vocabulary. We want to make sure that all the showrooms worldwide and all the people who deal with the BY KIM brand are working with the same information and with uniform concepts. This book is a guideline — a kind of framework within which Wempe employees can express their individuality,” she says.
In her leisure time Fatima Massalme also deals with jewelry — especially the necklaces she makes herself. “This is my hobby. I always call my creations my ‘children’s jewelry,’ because they are so colorful,” she says. She gives these necklaces as presents to people who are especially dear to her heart. She says she would never sell any of her own creations. “I never accept any orders either,” she says with a laugh.
Does she have a personal favorite among the jewelry she owns? “Every piece of jewelry I own is my favorite. But I do have a talisman,” she adds. “I make a lot of plane trips, but I don’t really like flying. When I’m in a plane, I always hold my necklace with a Cosmos pendant in my hand. It’s very pleasant to hold, and it bears the engraving ‘Tempus fugit amor manet’ (Time flies, but love endures). This motto has a different meaning for every individual,” she says. “For me, it means security.”