“Do you remember when we first came here in 2005?” Anouk remarks. “There were nowhere near as many luxury stores here!”
We are strolling down Rua Oscar Freire on our way to meet Dimitri Mussard, son of the artistic director of Hermès and former stockbroker, who started a luxury brand consultancy in Brazil in 2010.
“Brazil’s luxury market is growing like crazy,” I say as we turn off Oscar Freire and weave our way through the streets of the upmarket Jardim Paulista district. “The growth rate is something like 22% a year. There are huge opportunities here, but thing are not easy due to taxes and bureaucracy.”
“And that,” I say as I ring the bell of an apartment building on Rua Alameda Franca, “is where Dimitri and his company Acaju do Brasil come in!”
The Acaju do Brasil offices are set up on the ground floor.
We hear a voice through the interphone: “Hi! Come on in!” The buzzer sounds and the front door swings open. A young guy is waiting for us at the end of the hallway, wearing faded jeans, a loose shirt and loafers. “Anouk and Maarten?” he asks with a smile. “I’m Dimitri. It’s great to meet you, please come on in to meet the team!”
As we walk through the sparsely furnished spaces, Dimitri introduces us to his colleagues, Mariasole, Anna Luisa and Fábio, who have set up their laptops on a large wooden table that is covered in magazines and sketchpads.
We go out into the garden, where a young woman comes to serve us cafezinhos with a glass of water.
We are about to start asking Dimitri about his vision behind Acaju do Brasil, when he launches into an animated account of his travels from India to Pakistan and on to Russia. “It really opened my eyes,” he says, “I visited the most magical places.” After a year of travelling on a shoestring budget, he decided he didn’t want to return to his job in the City of London and headed to Brazil instead.
“You decided you wanted to move here and work in finance here?” asks Anouk.
“No,” says Dimitri. “No, I didn’t really have a plan. Initially I just came for a short visit. Then I thought I might like to use my travel experience somehow. Build a travel website or so…”
“I see,” says Anouk. “And the link between that and luxury brands?”
“Well there isn’t one really,” says Dimitri with a laugh, “I just saw that there were opportunities.” He takes a sip of his coffee and adds, “and huge obstacles as well.”
“That’s what I heard,” I say, “that there’s huge barriers to entry for foreign brands in Brazil.”
“It’s crazy,” says Dimitri, “unbelievable bureaucracy, taxes, red tape – it’s a huge headache basically. But it was an opportunity at the same time: I saw that I could bridge a gap here, by helping global brands to conquer a spot in this emerging market. And so I founded Acaju do Brasil with a couple of friends.”
“Aha!” says Anouk with a smile. “Spoken like a true entrepreneur! A man who seeks opportunity in difficult markets!”
Dimitri laughs. “I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Would you like another coffee by the way?”
After he has ordered another round of cafezinhos, he reverts to our two favourite topics of conversation: travel and branding. “So tell me more about your trip around the world in 80 brands!”
© 2013 CoolBrands
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Tags: Anouk Pappers, Maarten Schäfer, CoolBrands Influencers, Influencers around the world, Around the World in 80 Brands, Around the World, 80 Brands, Storytelling, CoolBrands, third party storytelling, Hermès, cool storytelling, Oscar Freire, Meeting Dimitri Mussard, Dimitri Mussard,Acaju do Brasil, brazil, sao paolo, coolbrands brazil, emerging market, coolbrands influencers around the world, travel and branding