Business in the Time of Covid: Dan Niederer of SEVENFRIDAY
Swiss watchmakers, SEVENFRIDAY offer up a frank and candid take on their experience of operating a business during a global pandemic
In our latest series of features on brands and their experiences of the pandemic, we speak to Dan Niederer, owner of Swiss lifestyle brand SEVENFRIDAY. Niederer specialises in luxury, contemporary timepieces and eyewear. He’s also known for having created a network of interactive social spaces where people can shop, eat, drink and experience live events across the globe.
“I know a lot of brands have said that this period of time during the pandemic has been positive. They say it’s given them a chance to re-evaluate their priorities and blablabla, but let’s be honest: it’s a sad sign for humans that we need a global crisis to reflect and change,” laments Niederer.
“The honest, no BS assessment of today’s situation is that it’s a very worrying time. Brands are struggling; the whole economy is struggling and we’re no different.”
Regularly travelling the globe to meet and interact with customers and business partners, Niederer is motivated and inspired by the people he meets and the different cultural experiences he has. This sense of exploration and the creation of what he feels is a global community feeds right back into the core of his business; forming its very character.
Having already launched a live interview project prior to the pandemic via Instagram, SEVENFRIDAY bolstered its focus on the importance of ‘community’ by creating a platform that enhanced its character, engagement and lifestyle in a different way. Effectively, the brand created a window into its world and the world of those who share its vision. This has become all the more important now that travel has been so thoroughly disrupted.
The Instagram live interviews now take place daily, where Niederer holds organic conversations with everyone from the head of design through to friends of the brand (including world champion boxer, Jesse Vargas). The live-feed has also become a key form of interaction in light of the closure of their 25 worldwide spaces. “The whole ethos of SEVENFRIDAY is for people to come together and to integrate and socialise. Obviously, with our spaces closed due the pandemic, online has become the only alternative space,” adds Niederer.
“Whether it has helped me feel like I’m still travelling for a short period of time each day, or just served as a sanity check, it’s helped somewhat. But the bottom line is that it is far from a substitute for us being in front of our customers and our people. It’s certainly something, though, and we are evolving all the time.”
While many are talking about the benefit of reflection and how the pandemic has allowed the fast-pace of today’s world to slow down, Niederer takes a different, more philosophical approach. “It is impossible to turn back the wheel of time, but we can evolve and decide where we want to go,” he says. “That said, we had better be aware of the consequences.”
“I believe that things will get back to normal eventually. But as for when? Nobody knows. We forget that humans have a history of not learning from past events. Look at SARS, and how we seem to have erased that from memory here in the West. Only Asian countries seem to have been better prepared.”
For now SEVENFRIDAY – like many others – continue to see a huge impact on sales. Nevertheless, the brand will be pushing on to open its flagship space in Zurich this month, as they hope to get back to some sense of normality and allow their live Instagram sessions to evolve to their physical spaces.