Hannah and Rachel Vasicek, the two sisters who if youre not aware of, youll be sure to hear more about soon! From a small market stall to a much-loved Australian brand, Francesca is an on-trend designer jewellery label that is growing and gathering fans quickly. All pieces are designed by the sisters in their home town of Hobart, Tasmania and made both locally and abroad. With brick and mortar stores in Hobart and Melbourne, and a successful online shop, the sisters carefully crafted designs are something uniquely beautiful. This month at Postcoder we were lucky to have a chat with Hannah and Rachel about all things Franc!
Why did you start Francesca?
Hannah: Francesca started because I just loved making jewellery! Rachel and I grew up in a small town in New South Wales where there wasnt much to do. One day Mum took me to a local beading class and I just fell in love! I made so much jewellery that I began selling it. I had my first stall outside a supermarket at 12-years-old. So I guess you could say I was business orientated from a young age! When we moved to Tasmania I began selling jewellery at the Salamanca Market – the brand at the time was called Handmade by Hannah. In 2011, I launched Francesca. I was currently studying a Science-Law Degree and never imagined that Francesca could possibly become the success it is today!
What is the ethos behind Francesca?
Hannah: Ive always believed that success means nothing unless you give back and thats something that Ive brought into Francesca. The more weve grown, the more weve been able to give back. For me its a core part of who we are as a brand. The biggest charity we support is Be Hers, a charity that seeks to put an end to human trafficking.
What have been your greatest challenges to date?
Hannah: I had a lot of people in the beginning who didnt believe that I could run a business by myself. Im happy to say Ive proved them wrong! The main thing other than really deciding to go full steam with my passion was growing pains – access to capital being the most difficult for a growing business!
Rachel: My biggest challenge was the fact I came directly from school into a role I didnt really know much about but luckily had a natural niche in. I have been really fortunate to be involved with Francesca since it was small, so Ive grown within my creative role over time. To begin with we were marketing with images from my IPhone, and on very small platforms. Today we have a whole graphics team, photo studio and amazing marketing platforms. Learning on the go has been a great challenge but really rewarding.
Whats a typical day at Francesca look like?
Hannah: I am lucky enough to have an amazing team who really drive the day to day of the business. This then allows me the opportunity to work holistically on our growth strategies ahead! I receive a large amount of emails daily so I like to get all of those read and actioned or prioritised for the start of my day. I then usually work on three big projects each day – whether it be implementing a new digital strategy, proposing new store sites and plans or working on the cash flow of the business. I also love to meet one on one with my staff to make sure they have the tools needed to do their role and have the opportunity to ask me any questions. I also do all of the accounts for the business so I try to segment those more analytical days from meeting days!
Rachel: I head up our marketing team so I usually check in to see what the other girls are working on that day. All of our roles are different, but they all crossover and rely on each other, so its essential that we work together and try and stay on schedule. At the beginning of the week, I look at which pieces I want to promote and how Im going to do that. I then split up the tasks between our team. My day can be a little all over the place, but I get it done in the end. I can go from shooting products, to designing and then working on our EDMs within the space of a few hours!
What would you say has been your magic moment at Francesca to date?
Hannah: There are a few moments that spring to mind! On a personal level, a truly proud moment was going to the Hollywood Golden Globes and also winning Telstra Overall Business of the Year for Tasmania, not for the womens division, but the main awards! Ive also loved being able to give back with the brand and Im so proud of our partnership with not-for-profit Be Hers. This amazing organisation raises awareness and funds to fight sexual slavery and every year we design a collection that donates 100% of the proceeds. We launch the collection at the Be Her Freedom event and last year we raised $25,000 on that one night!
Rachel: Shooting a year’s worth of campaigns in Bali last year was a massive highlight, both personally for me and the brand. I never would have guessed when I started playing around with flatlays for our Instagram in our first store, that one day Id be shooting an international campaign with a whole team! Being able to complete a project of such high caliber, with people who are solely self-taught, was a huge achievement for everyone involved.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received?
Hannah: Cash is king. And always make sure you actions are in line with your values!
Rachel: Routine + Habit = Freedom & Energy Save energy and be efficient to achieve maximum outcomes from your day – Christo Popov (founder & CEO Fast Track).
What do you think is the most common mistake that people make when starting a business?
Hannah: I truly believe the most common mistake is going into business with the intention of only making money. The sad fact is that businesses dont turn a profit for some time and if you dont have the passion to get you through the hard times you just wont last!
Rachel: Trying to go too big too soon. We have learnt that from experience, there is a great desire to be the big guns right now, and that can be where things come undone really quickly. Nurturing your business so that it is really healthy from a young age and delivering all facets of the business to a high standard sets a great foundation for the long term.
Whats one thing you wish youd done sooner?
Rachel: I wish we had focused solely on growing social media so that when everyone came on board we were already one step ahead. We didnt take it as seriously in the early stages as we do now and that would have been really beneficial.
Finally, what is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to start a business based on everything you have learnt?
Hannah: Just start. It doesnt need to be perfect before you launch. In fact if youre striving for perfection youll probably never launch. Once you actually have that business going, you can work on it and improve it. Youll see gaps and opportunities that you would never see otherwise!
Rachel:Learn as many different skills you possibly can to keep as much in house as possible. I truly believe Francescas success has come from being able to first hand bring a vision to fruition because there is no middle man. It saves time and allows you to get a result most people would find hard to generate.
And lastly, some quick questions –
What do you love most about what you do?
Hannah: I absolutely love every single facet of business. The excitement of everyday wins and the ability to holistically plan for growth and always refine the business!
Whats one thing that always makes you happy?
Hannah: My dog MJ!
Rachel: A good coffee.
Whats your rule of thumb when it comes to inspiring your team?
Hannah: I believe its so important to know your values and be working towards living them so I always try to make sure my team feels like what theyre doing is in line with their values. Having a unified purpose is also one which we strive for! Here at franc our mission is to empower our customers and employees!
Rachel: The constant desire to innovate and move forward. I think a lot of people can plateau when they think theyve reached their goals – so I always give as much energy to innovation in the creative department and bounce exciting big hairy audacious goals (BHAGS) with the team.
Another business / start- up I like is .
Hannah: Kester Black, an ethical, sustainable cosmetics and skincare brand.
Whats your mantra?
Hannah: Live the life you love.
Last awesome book read?
Hannah: Awesomely Simple by John Spence. Its all about how to create the best culture in a company!
Rachel: Its not the years in your life its the life in your years.
Whats your #1 time management tip?
Hannah: Prioritise! Get everything down which needs to be done micro and macro and then attack those tasks three at a time!
Whats your favourite holiday hotspot?
Rachel: Amalfi Coast, Italy.
To find out more or shop online, head to www.francesca.com.au