Meet Ely Hopkins founder and designer of Jill Hopkins Jewellery and Jill Jill Accessories. In less then three years she has taken an idea and turned it into a successful fashion business. Ely now has three retail stores, two online stores and is stocked at 11 fashion boutiques. And if that wasn’t awesome enough, she is now working on world domination. Her dream is to launch & sell all around the globe, first stop, LONDON OF COURSE!! Today I go behind the sketches with Ely to uncover how she started her brand.
( P.S I really, REALLY want to borrow her shoes! )
Q) When did you start your business?
I launched my first collection three years ago in Mexico. I started by selling to my friends and family, before launching my first online store and opening my first retail shop.
Q) What inspired you to create a jewellery line?
I’ve always loved fashion, but was more into clothes. I liked keeping things simple and never wore jewellery. One day I just tried on some pieces and to my surprise I instantly felt more confident. It was so powerful. A few months later i decided that i wanted to create my own pieces that were bold and intricate as I couldn’t find designs I wanted in the shops. Jill Hopkins was born.
Q) What was the first step you took to start your line?
I didn’t start with a typical business plan, for me it was all about design. I focused on the creativity. I wanted to have a strong signature that would become my brand’s identity. Everything else came after, such as funding, finding manufacturers, market research, branding and, of course, the business plans.
Q) How did you fund your company?
I began saving whilst at University. I put a little away every week i started with less then £3000 -it wasn’t much, but was enough to get me started. You don’t need a lot of money to start a business; you just need to test your product and pay attention to detail, so you can avoid making big mistakes.
Q) What was the first business lesson you learnt?
Do your market research! It’s so important. Research other brands, keep up with fashion trends and research what people are buying. Figure out who your customer is and what she will like. I learnt that I can’t just design pieces that I would love to wear. I have to adapt in order to be more versatile and appealing.
Q) Any tips on production and working with manufacturers?
I spent a-lot of time researching manufacturers. I narrowed down three and asked them to produce a sample of a complicated design. I focused on three things.
1) How long it would take for the company to produce each collection
2) The quality and finish of the product
3) How much it would cost and can i sustain this with the budget i had.
Make sure you communicate all your expectations from the very beginning. Do not be scared to express what you want or if you’re not happy. Be open, honest – holding back can cause so many problems. I’ve seen so many fashion start-ups struggle due to manufacturing issues. study the industry and get your costings right. Design is important, but manufacturing is essential.
Q) You recently moved to London, what made you leave your home in Mexico and launch your brand here?
I always dreamed of living in London. I’m a great believer in the law of attraction and always believed that this day would come. I came to London in the pursuit of making my brand international. It’s been very challenging, adapting to new business practices isn’t always easy. But I’m learning fast and enjoying the process.
Q) You are always so positive on your social media platforms, any tips for startups who want to use these destinations to market their brands?
Create strong pictures, don’t just post for the sake of posting. Be intimate, and reply back to comments and feedback. ( so many brands fail to do this!) Also, make it a little personal, show behind the scene images and events you’re going to. It’s all about letting the customer know that you’re a person, not just a brand. I love connecting with my customers and no matter how big we get I want to sustain this engagement.
Remember you’re a start up so show people you care and appreciate the support you’re receiving.
Q) And, finally what advice would you give someone who wants to start a business?
You need to be confident and believe in yourself, even after the mistakes. Knock on all the doors you can and don’t worry about competitors so much. Do your research, work hard, your persistence will help you overcome your doubts and fears. Also, read business magazines and blogs for tips and tools. It’s so important to learn from others and keep up to date with the business and fashion industry. Also networking is so important, reach out to PR teams, bloggers and other businesses within your industry. MAKE NOISE, LOADS OF IT!
Connect with Ely here:
Get Social with Ely on Instagram
WHAT IS ELY WEARING:
PHOTO CREDIT: KYRA CAMPBELL