ESTILA, the Luxury Lifestyle Magazine run by Karolina Barnes recently interviewed our founder - Sarah Haran to discuss her journey so far. Read the interview below:
1. What has been your journey so far?
I came up with the Sarah Haran concept in 2015 but have really focused on the brand in the past year. It has been quite a journey as the idea developed from a combination of different influences in my life rather than from one idea. As a director of an AIM listed Cloud Computing company, travelling every week with meetings during the day and functions in the evening and being faced with baggage restrictions I knew first hand that having a multi-functional handbag would be useful. I saw an opportunity to address my travel frustrations by creating a handbag concept that could transform from travel to business to play.
My idea was to combine functionality and versatility with style – utilising the very best leather and metal components. I now have 20,000 followers across social media and have my handbags worn by more and more fans as well as some UK based celebrities. There is still much to be done though to grow my brand!
2. What is your mission with Sarah Haran?
Actually my mission is to sell handbags, but in reality I want to empower women and give them confidence in every situation that they find themselves in. It sounds a bit crazy but a handbag really can be an aid to your life ensuring that you are fully organised always!
Quality, style and functionality are crucial and every prototype is road-tested for a minimum of 6 months before being thoughtfully refined to ensure the final product fulfils my origin design brief. Wherever possible, elements of every Sarah Haran bag are customisable to meet the needs of the discerning, modern woman.
3. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
When I started Sarah Haran one of the objectives that I wanted for the business was to have handbags made in Britain. I never wanted to be designing handbags that ended up being made in high volume in faraway places. Initially I was designing and making all our handbags myself but this wasn’t sustainable, as demand grew, so we had to start to look for manufacturing.
The first big challenge was actually finding a manufacturer and once we did, it was the whole process of set up. The costs of production are higher than off-shoring to Europe or the far East, but the reward has been that we have full control over our supply chain and our manufacturing. If there are any discussions required we can feasibly pop along to see them! As we develop though, it is something that I am very aware of as there are not many handbag production/manufacturers in the UK.
4. How did you overcome the fear of failure and the insecurities you had when starting your business?
This one is a hard question to answer. Some days I wake up and actually think I have gone mad trying to launch a handbag company when there is just so much competition and some really large brands to compete with! But then I remember that I really love what I do and somehow this keeps me trying to push on. I really don’t want to give up!
I then tend to get very practical, make to do lists and ensure that they are in small bites so that I do not become totally over whelmed with what is needed! Then I try to make sure I time manage myself properly to attend to the stuff I don’t like doing that much – you know the finance, the follow ups, thinking up ways to get attention on the brand etc so that I can give myself quality time for designing our beautiful products.
5. What has been your biggest mistake and business lesson you learnt so far?
I am fortunate I guess in that I have worked in business for a while now so that has helped me avoid some of the more basic mistakes one can make. That said my business knowledge is very much around technology and so I have found myself swayed far too easily by listening to “experts” in fashion. It’s easy for this to happen when you don’t know what you don’t know, so this coming year I have signed myself up for a crash course in Fashion Brand building to ensure I widen my network and have far more reference points to fall back on. As they say each day is a school day and that’s what makes this so exciting!
“Each day is a school day and that’s what makes this so exciting.”
6. Where do you see your business going?
I want to grow the business to be a go to brand for women and also export overseas. Right now though I am not looking for global domination but year on year progress as we further develop our handbag concept and broaden our product range.