Erika Harder is fresh to the exhibiting scene with only one First Instyle experience under her belt but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a fountain of exhibiting knowledge. First Instyle is quite often the first taste of exhibiting a brand will get and can sometimes be overwhelming.
We caught up with Erika, in the lead up to her appearance on the Training Wheels Melbourne panel, The Real Life Instyle Experience, and spoke about the Erika Harder Jewellery story and why she decided to take the leap into the wholesale industry.
Why did you pick jewellery?
Jewellery kind of picked me really. I had tried millinery, then bridal headpieces and was embarking on wedding dresses when my best friend signed me up for her work Christmas Fete. I had polymer clay and I made bangles and it just kind of worked. While it was still very hard work, it just seemed to grow a lot more easily than the other directions I had pursued.
What inspired you to make the leap into wholesale?
I guess I always knew I wanted to wholesale so we built it very early on with this in mind. The first store I was stocked in was on consignment and she was instrumental in helping me learn about the industry, sharing not only her own experiences but also the stories of other brands. While I’m aware that online shopping has grown rapidly, I myself like to see things in person and try them before buying online.
What is your 2018 business goal?
Our goal was to have 20 stores stocking us by the end of 2018, but that’s happened now from the February Life Instyle show so I guess our goal is now 40! I also wanted to be in a position to employ someone and I didn’t think that would happen until Christmas, however, its going to be a lot sooner now.
What is the number 1 mistake you have learned from over the years?
To slow down! I have so many ideas and get super excited about all the potential designs and colours, but I have to remember that I don’t have to do it all now. One year I produced 12 different colour ways for summer and it almost killed me. Now i’m much more content to shelve some of my ideas and remind myself that its ok to take my time.
How has your business changed since exhibiting as part of Life Instyle?
We now have a studio and will be looking to employ someone ahead of the August show in Melbourne.
What is the best advice you received about exhibiting at Life Instyle?
That there is no hard and fast rule about how you do it. Listen, and take in as much as you can, and then find your own way.
After exhibiting at Life Instyle SYDNEY 2018, is there anything you learned from your experience?
Yes, the reception we received was so much greater than I had anticipated and I must admit I got a bit overwhelmed! As our products are handmade and we have over 150 items in our line sheet – in August I will take orders and then spend the rest of the month doing production so that we can batch our process to ensure we are running more efficiently. I’m also looking at reducing our colour ranges as I want to include new designs.