BY VANESSA ROBERTS
As part of our ongoing ‘CEO Secrets’ series, we’ll be hosting exclusive one-on-ones with successful fashion and beauty entrepreneurs to glean inspiration and information about how they made their entrepreneurial dreams happen.
This week I tapped Colette Hayman, founder of fast fashion accessories brand ‘Colette by Colette Hayman’. With 130 stores internationally and big plans for the future, it’s safe to say Colette knows a thing or two about dreaming big and pursuing a passion!
BWA: What inspired you to start Colette By Colette Hayman?
I was looking for a creative outlet that embraced the pace of fast fashion and an opportunity to share my flair for seeking out and styling product without breaking the bank, and so the Colette by Colette Hayman brand was born.
When it comes to accessories, I believe that they are a statement of style; that more is more and you can never own too many handbags or too many pieces of jewellery. We strive to inspire and enable our customers. We edit the trends, we show how they can be styled and we offer quality product at extraordinary value.
BWA: Having founded the iconic Diva chain, and now Colette by Colette Hayman, what do you see as being the 5 most important ingredient/s in your long-lived business success?
1. Know everything about your business. This can be all-encompassing so you have to manage time really well. I visit my warehouse and stores regularly and my head office team are personally selected by me.
2.Employ well. To a large extent the success of a business is determined by the people you employ.
3. Have a 5 year plan, it’s not set in stone but it will give you focus and direction.
4. Put in reporting systems early on, these are invaluable!
5. Love it, breathe it, live it!
BWA: What was the most effective way of raising awareness for Colette when you launched?
Our free standing stores was the beacon for brand recognition, followed by a strong publicity campaign to announce and alert to the media we are back in the market place.
BWA: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career so far?
There is no doubt that fashion is a competitive industry. I truly believe that our brand must always offer not only fantastic product and good quality, but a shopping environment and service that set us apart. With the influx of international retailers and online destinations, customers are spoilt for choice so we all need to lift our game to be in the race!
BWA: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
My mum is my role model, an absolute lady with impeccable morals and manners; she worked very hard all my life and is always reliable. She has always told me “This too shall pass” and it is so true! Don’t take things too seriously, experiment and if it’s a fail, forget it and try again!
BWA: The one piece of advice you would tell your younger self:
Don’t feel you always have to seek justice. Life has a way of teaching people that have wronged you a lesson, you don’t need to be the one to do it.
BWA: Your favourite business tool or resource is…
My iPad and the internet is a must! It allows me to do business and research wherever I am in the world. Mark (CEO and Colette’s husband) reads all the business articles, books and newspapers and I read all the fashion magazines, blogs and social media etc so together I think we have most areas covered. We are fortunate to have each other to motivate and bounce ideas off on a daily basis.
BWA: Do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?
When I’m working, I give it 100% effort. I am completely focused and very committed to my brand. Always remember that nothing successful comes without hard work.
Be your harshest critic and never rest on your laurels. I continuously challenge my team with “how can we do it better?” which ensures we’re always pushing the brand to the next level, whether it is design, communications or internal processes.
BWA: What other businesses / designers / entrepreneurs do you most admire?
My husband is my mentor, he is very clever and I’m impressed by his wisdom on a daily basis…..added to which he adores me so I’ll keep him!
BWA: What is next for Colette by Colette Hayman?
We are now planning to extend our footprint to the USA, Canada, UK, Central Asia and Europe over the next 5 years. Our vision is to build Colette by Colette Hayman into a global brand, offering trendy yet affordable fashion accessories from the best retail locations world-wide.
We’ve just launched our new brand campaign shot by Simon Lekias and styled by Mark Vassallo, opened a new flagship store at Westfield Sydney and a beauty collaboration with one of Australia’s most coveted brands, just to name a few. We’re in the process of rolling out our new brand look all of our stores with our new look, so there’s lots going on. Watch this space!
SO – Tell us: What’s your favourite style of jewellery? Are you into the latest trends or like to keep it classic? Let us know in the comments below!