12 October 2021
The imaginative world of Yacine Challal
Selling jewelry from a vending machine or a ordinary newsstand? Why ever not? Yacine Challal, founder of the Carré Y brand, is afraid of nothing!
By Sandrine Merle.
Before launching Carré Y, Yacine spent 11 years as the French general manager of the German jewelry brand Thomas Sabo. Today he heads his own brand targeting 18-30-year-olds – non-gendered and highly affordable, with prices that start at 19 euros, as everything is made of (partially recycled) brass. Choose from signet rings, creoles, ear cuffs, and astrological medals colored with a home-made enamel inspired by nail art – hand-painted and covered with a layer of glitter varnish and a coating. System D and creativity: Yacine’s approach is also illustrated by the atypical recyclable packaging, a cardboard noodle box. “The idea came to me at the office when I saw people coming out of the Thai restaurant next door,” explains this almost forty-year-old – bejeweled to the tips of his sunflower yellow Crocs.
But there’s much more to this fearless psychology graduate from the run-down suburbs northeast of Paris than just one quirky idea! “The idea of selling jewelry at a regular newsstand came to me during the lockdown: I looked out of my windows every morning and saw the doors of one opening up like a jewelry box.” Given the impossibility of making it happen in Paris, where the kiosks are controlled by the City Council, he turned to Marseille instead. It was an inspired choice: here was a city with lower rents, no down payment, and the chance of a prime location on the central thoroughfare known as the Canebière.
The jewelry dispenser
With his conquering and childlike spirit, fearless and unhampered by prejudice, Yacine Challal has also hijacked the world of dispensers containing candy and capsules full of tiny gifts. “The experience resembles that of e-commerce: you choose your jewel on a touch screen and you can send it back if you change your mind.” Child’s play for digital natives. The first distributor, complete with flashy colors, will be installed in a few days in the Mon Grand Plaisir shopping center in the Yvelines, west of Paris.
Will the idea launch a trend? Could it even be used for more precious jewels? One to watch…