Q&A: Lesley Horton Campbell, Tiffany & Co

11 Mar 2019 , 11:11am

New York-based Lesley Horton Campbell has been Associate General Counsel for Global Real Estate & Store Development at Tiffany & Co since 2013. She talks about the value of the luxury in-store experience, the need to address sustainability and the pitfalls of navigating inclusion in today’s ‘woke’ consumer market. 

Tiffany & Co

The iconic fine jewellery, watches and specialty brand was founded in New York in 1837 and has over 300 retail stores throughout the world. Lesley is responsible for advising executive officers throughout the company globally in connection with all real estate matters, which includes corporate offices, distribution and manufacturing facilities and the Tiffany & Co retail stores which generate annual sales of over US$4 billion.

Non-profit roles

Alongside her role at Tiffany, Lesley serves on the Board of Directors of Weston United Community Renewal, a Harlem based non-profit which provides housing for the homeless and mentally ill and on the Board of Directors of the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens, a NYC non-profit which provides housing for seniors. Lesley was named one of National Bar Associations’ 40 under 40 in 2017.

Luxury Law Alliance: What led you to becoming a lawyer, and what was the appeal of working in the luxury sector?

Lesley Horton Campbell: I’ve always been the person who helps her friends or family members solve problems or offer advice. My natural inclination is to jump into “fix it” mode when I hear an issue, so becoming a lawyer was a natural extension of these skills for me.

The appeal of working in the luxury sector is that I am always on the cutting edge of what is new and next in the industry. As a market leader in luxury, this means that I also get to work with the best and brightest from all over the world. On any given day, I get to work on deals with colleagues and local counsel in Dubai, Beijing or Chicago, and everywhere in between. No two days are ever the same.

LLA: What are the issues you have been dealing with lately - the obstacles and the opportunities for luxury companies?

LHC: In an age where consumers are concerned about sustainability and the origins of the products they purchase, some luxury companies may struggle with how to respond to this concern in a way that is genuine and in a way that sets them apart from their competitors. Fortunately for Tiffany, this is an area wherein we shine because, in addition to all of the sustainability work that we’ve been doing for years, we now provide consumers with the provenance of all individually registered diamonds. This level of transparency is largely unprecedented in the luxury market, and I think our consumers appreciate this. It further underscores what makes a Tiffany diamond so special, what makes it an undeniable luxury.

LLA: Tiffany is a heritage brand which is known globally for its iconic flagship store. How important are bricks and mortar to the company, especially in this digital age?

LHC: Bricks and mortar is still essential to the brand because there is a certain delight to an in-store experience that simply cannot be replicated online. For example, this past holiday season at our Flagship store on Fifth Avenue, we had a portion of our craftmens’ workshop set up within a glass display on the main floor. Visitors were able to see in person some of our craftsmen working on extravagant custom pieces. Seeing up close the artistry and craftsmanship was a special experience for our in-store customers that allowed them to have a greater understanding of why our brand continues to stand the test of time.

LLA: What does ‘luxury’ mean to you?

LHC: Luxury means special, premium and of superior quality, and it can apply to a product, a service or an experience, amongst other things.

LLA: Is there a particular issue that keeps you up at night - whether specific to Tiffany or to the luxury sector as a whole?

LHC: Fortunately, I sleep quite well at night! One issue though, that I think many in the luxury sector often find challenging, is how to navigate inclusion in their product choice and marketing. Many luxury brands recently have had major missteps in this area, and consumers have taken note. Fortunately, this has actually been a strong point for Tiffany. Our company really makes an effort to celebrate all cultures, whether through internal celebrations for Chinese New Year, Black History Month or participation in Pride Month here in NYC, and as a result our campaigns reflect this diversity of who we are.

LLA: Regarding your legal team, what size is your department and how is it structured? Do you work with external counsel, and what do you expect from an outside firm?

LHC: There are eight attorneys in our Legal Department who cover all matters for the company globally. With such a lean department all based in NYC, we do work with external counsel to provide expertise on local law around the world. Because we work very closely with our external counsel, we expect them to provide subject matter expertise in a timely and collegial manner.