Tatler Malaysia

Rock Solid

Prior to Habib Jewels’ 60th Jubilee celebratio­n, Dato’ Sri Meer Sadik Habib regales Kathlyn D’souza with the stor y of his childhood, and shares how the foundation­s of the brand will pave the way for bright and sparkly days ahead


Six decades of stories. That was the theme underscori­ng Habib’s recent anniversar­y celebratio­n. Naturally, such a momentous occasion called for a stellar lineup of events, which the jewel house executed perfectly—starting with a luncheon featuring old photograph­s of the first Habib store and its founder Datuk Habib Mohamed on display, followed by a phenomenal fashion showcase of rare, iconic heritage pieces tracing back to the 1960s. Since we were in a retrospect­ive mode, I asked Dato’ Sri Meer Sadik Habib about his years growing up. He recalled with much fondness the fun he had—being active in sports and outdoor activities, plus watching his parents work hard with the first Habib outlet, in Penang. One of the few remaining Jawi Peranakan shophouses still standing, they had lived upstairs, whereas the business was carried out downstairs. But his fondest memory, with regard to jewellery was that, “it was always a happy occasion.” He emphasised further, “There’s always laughter, smiles and jokes. People are always happy in a jewellery shop. They’re happy because they’re getting something new, or they can finally afford some beautiful pieces for some celebratio­n, be it a wedding or an anniversar­y.” His father, too, cited this as the main reason why he wanted to go into the jewellery business. “My father used to say, ‘I want to be in the jewellery business because it is always about happiness.’” That realisatio­n and business acumen was then passed on to Dato’ Sri Meer, who now carries the legacy of the trade well into its 61st year. It only seemed natural that he would take over, being the only son and brother to three sisters. Though, that was not the only reason he chose to venture into the trade. “It’s just that I grew up watching my parents work very hard, and wanted to give them a break. I thought of coming back and helping them out first.” January 1986, he touched down from the US and set out to work, and carries on to do so until this day. After all these years, he admitted to feeling nostalgic, but that didn’t come without heavy reflection about the brand, the strong values it carries and the DNA of its existence, which Dato’ Sri Meer remarked, they will continue to uphold. “As a jewellery brand, we want to focus and look at what made Habib what it is today, and really stick to it. What defines us is our quality and creativity. Every piece must be worldclass, yet reasonably priced, and timeless with a touch of modernity,” he said, before explaining that if one were to look back at all the Habib heritage pieces, they would still be relevant and will not look out of place today. Those are the qualities that Dato’ Sri Meer places the utmost importance on—whether the brand will become extremely famous or successful, the last thing on his mind is profitabil­ity. In fact, the thought makes him uncomforta­ble. “After Habib became the first public listed jewellery brand in 1998, we had to push sales, do forecasts, make announceme­nts, and explain if we missed out profit forecasts. I did not enjoy that.” Habib subsequent­ly sold their listed vehicle and became private again. “But don’t misunderst­and!” he expressed shortly after. “Profit is definitely why businesses are formed, but I’m in it more so out of passion.” Thus, passion and profitabil­ity aside, how does Dato’ Sri Meer measure success then? “I have a very strange way of looking at success, personally,” Dato’ Sri Meer revealed. “I look at it this way: if I’m successful, my success means my parents’ success. So, to me, if my children are successful in life, that means I too have succeeded.”

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