Each brand has its own origin story, its unique tale of how it became what it is today. Here’s part two of ours, the story of how Hallo Jane started.
(If you haven’t read part one yet, you can find it here.)
“After a few months of being a struggling freelance fashion designer in Pringle Bay, I decided to start a T-shirt printing business. I reckoned she had the needed knowledge from the fashion academy and it was quite an affordable option to set up. Along with my dad, I went to look at some options and came across the laser cutting machines. (I remember his words so well) he asked me if he could help me buy one, would I be able to create a successful business out of it? I remember feeling confident and ready for this amazing challenge. It was a much bigger risk to buy than our initial idea… But we took the chance and I felt ready, sure and unafraid.
The first few months were tough. The objects you can cut and create are so varied that it made it very hard to focus on a certain element or style. My main train of thought was that I just need to produce wooden earrings for wholesale and to make a decent living off that… But no one wanted to buy, especially from some unknown new brand! I continued experimenting with new things and different approaches, trying to make the brand unique and get people to engage.
I began selling on Hello Pretty (for those who do not know. It’s an online platform that allows you to have your own online shop that is basically in their shop. Like an umbrella with many small shops underneath). A lot of small businesses start there and many big brands still prefer them as their main store online.
(Potential sellers see how to start your own online shop https://hellopretty.co.za/sell/)
They made it easy for me to direct people to the shop and buy products out there. It went slowly at first but it went 🙂
After a few months, Hallo Jane got accepted to trade at Root44 market in Stellenbosch, which had always been a big goal for me since starting the brand. I remember phoning my cousin (who always helps very selflessly) to come over and we worked through the night that whole week to get everything ready in time!
The combination of having an online shop and the first physical space to buy from was amazing!! The dry spell was finally over and people were beginning to respond to the brand.
I guess at that stage I kinda established the look and feel and vibe I was going for and I absolutely loved it. And I loved seeing people’s reactions as our products are fun and quirky and made people happy and smile and that’s what I was going for.
I then got accepted for another dream of mine, to trade at KAMERS/MAKERS.
They took me in as part of the Incub8 program for young entrepreneurs. I partook in workshops where they groomed and mentored the young designers – which served as a fantastic learning curve and experience!
KAMERS/MAKERS pushed Hallo Jane to become more professional with packaging, display, and branding. “They push you to be the best you can. Kinda throw you in the deep after teaching you how to swim.”
The KAMERS team is fabulous and always willing to help and give advice. They literally just want the best for you and push you in order to create the best possible version of the brand. Method to the madness. I would definitely say the mentorship has a great part in the growth the brand has experienced in the last year. Exactly a year ago we did our first show with them at the Castle and it has been an amazing ride since!
My advice to anyone starting a creative business:
“When I look back at the start up stages my advice would be: Don’t start something if you are not willing to put in everything you have. Sweat, blood, and tears. It has to be your absolute passion to make all the hard work, sleep deprivation and tireless weekends worthwhile. You have to be able to give up all your time and energy!”
You want it to be successful so you put everything you have into it.Since starting to trade on weekends at the market, I worked every single weekend for about 6 months. And no chilling during the week, because stock needed to be made and online orders needed to be fulfilled. Eventually, it took its toll on my personal life and I decided it was time to get some assistance. Carla joined the team as my personal assistant and went on to become the online shop manager in only a few months because of the great potential she showed.
Carla started just after my 27th birthday. I always say she’s one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever gotten..lol!
I guess what I am trying to say with the above is: work hard, give your best and when the time is right, start getting the necessary assistance or outsourcing! If you are reading this and you are a creative person, you will know, us right-brainers don’t like giving over responsibilities easily. We’d rather do it ourselves and know its right. But it’s not always the way. You have to learn to give control over and accept help. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself and the business.
My parents were amazing during the growth of the business as well as now. They would drive up from the Free State and stay with me for a week or more and just help with work.I am very blessed to have them be a part of it all.
So to sum it up:
- If you have a willing family, parents, siblings etc use them!!
- Make sure your product is unique, well priced and high quality.
- Always to research on trends, consumer behavior, social media marketing, where to sell, who to sell to and how to stay current.
- When the time is right, start outsourcing or get assistance.
- Be great at customer service! Through social media platforms, emails and in real life.
- Do as many expos and markets as you can for exposure and brand awareness!
- Be willing to work weekends and late nights for at least the 1st year!
- Network, build up contacts, socialize! It’s great to talk to people in the same boat and be able to relate and complain and get some extra support and advice
- Take any mentoring or advice you can get! Go to workshops! There is always a lot more to learn. Knowledge is not only power but growth!