Creating Impact Illustration

Initiating a New YP Toronto

How Haigo Derian unified peers to launch a new network in Canada


Haigo Derian takes pride in continuing the centuries-old Armenian legacy of artisanship. Derian is the co-founder of an innovative jewelry and watch company called CUPIDO, but alongside his hectic work life, he makes time to serve the YP community of his native Toronto. Serving as chairman of YP Toronto from 2007 to 2011, Derian gained a new appreciation for his Armenian heritage and expanded his understanding of the ways he can contribute to the Armenian community.  

Armenians are world-renowned for their skill, acumen, and influence in the jewelry industry. And for good reason! It is an artistic skill that we have mastered since the very beginning. For me, it is a responsibility to preserve this leadership role...

Why is it important for you to give back to the Armenian community? I believe it all comes down to a sense of community. For me, it’s important to be as involved as I can in things that matter to me: my neighborhood, my industry, and, of course, as a diasporan Armenian, my Armenian heritage. Being of Armenian descent means so much to me that many times I can't explain or quantify it. I find that some people choose to ignore it, which I did during part of my youth. It was only later into my professional life that I started to really want to con-
nect and embrace my heritage more.

How did you become involved with YP Toronto? YP Toronto was an avenue for me to pursue my desire to reconnect with my Armenian heritage. I was approached by Eugene Karadjian, the chairman of AGBU Toronto at the time, to explore YP and potentially start a Toronto group. By the end of our lunch, I had committed to the idea. I had the great opportunity of hand-selecting our committee and reached out to people who I had seen show strong signs of skill and success in their professional lives. I made an effort to have people with different skill sets and backgrounds represented to ensure our success.  

How has your Armenian heritage influenced your career? Armenians are world-renowned for their skill, acumen, and influence in the jewelry industry. And for good reason! It is an artistic skill that we have mastered since the very beginning. For me, it is a responsibility to preserve this leadership role we maintain within the industry—one that I intend to carry on into future generations, who I hope will continue to uphold this legacy.

What was the process of starting CUPIDO like? In 2007, my childhood friend Jeff Karadjian and I created a new retail narrative for a jewelry and watch store, CUPIDO. In doing so, we coined the phrase “fashion luxury,” which described a new and growing segment within the industry, focusing on luxury and branded goods within an affordable price segment. As such, CUPIDO was the first retailer in Canada to focus solely on the fashion luxury segment. We found immediate success and started our growth strategy in 2009, which marked our second CUPIDO location. This evolved into something very special for Jeff and me. Individually, we have completely different skills, and together, we create a very strong sense of balance. Today, Jeff and I operate 15 retail locations throughout Canada, under 3 different concepts, including L'ORO Jewellery, the company my father Vahram Derian founded in 1984.  

What is next for you professionally? Moving forward, our plan is to continue our growth strategy not only with physical locations, but also from a qualitative perspective, and organically through product mix. We have also seen a shift in our corporate culture; one that reconnects with our company's origins based on family and values. This has encouraged a clear directive to focus on the smaller details to create for our customers a closer and more emotional connection to our products and environments. Our ultimate goal is to provide our customers with the most compelling and enjoyable retail experience possible.  

Banner illustration by Luiz Tinoco

Originally published in the February 2016​ issue of AGBU Insider. end character

About the AGBU Insider

AGBU Insider profiles extraordinary AGBU program alumni across a diverse set of industries and passions. With exclusive interviews and photography, each issue reveals the Armenian impact on society, community, and industry.