When I choose to accessorize, “minimalism” is king. I’m usually searching for a touch of a gold element and a whole lot of hand-crafted style. I had the opportunity to run into Pittsburgh’s own jewelry and home goods start-up, Hanover Designs. It was one of those moments when you click on to a website and you think to yourself, “Jackpot. I want, nay…NEED all of this.” Dramatic, yes…but also very true. Take a look yourself and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
I am so thrilled to invite both Chris and Rachel Millard to be a part of my entrepreneurship spotlight series. Read on below to see how they did it, their design inspiration and to learn how you can win your own necklace!
Chris: I’ve been working in startups for around 5 years. I joined a graphic design startup that came out of alphalab and co-foudned a web-design company that went through Y-Combinator in 2013. I came back to Pittsburgh in 2014 because long distance relationships are not fun and started running operations at alphalab gear where I was introduced to the maker movement and started playing around at TechShop. Being surrounded by entrepreneurs who are making real things (not just apps) is incredibly inspiring. I learned so much over the past 2.5 years.
Rachel: I’ve always liked crafts and making things. Everything from scrap-booking to building shelving units for our house. I have a background in Occupational Therapy, but when our daughter was born I needed something that was a bit more flexible in terms of location. It’s been a little scary, but fun, watching Hanover Designs turn from a creative outlet / hobby to a business, but it’s a great feeling getting to do something you love.
What served as the inspiration to launch Hanover Designs?
Chris and Rachel: We love concrete in architecture and interior design. We were experimenting with concrete molds for furniture–things like lamps, stools, planters, patio tiles etc–and realized we could use some of the same techniques of mold making for jewelry. We had seen a few examples of concrete jewelry on Etsy and we just started experimenting. We liked how some of the early experiments turned out, so we took some pictures and thew them up on Facebook to see what people though of them, and if anyone wanted to buy any. We got a good response and a lot of support and it just started snowballing from there.
If you could both give advice to an aspiring entrepreneur, what would it be?
Chris: The hardest part of any new business is taking the first step. You don’t know what to do or where to go and so oftentimes you get stuck in decision paralysis. If I had to give one piece of advice it would be to follow the lean startup methodology and just hack something together and put it out there for feedback. 10 minutes and a dozen different people’s feedback is going to get you much further than a month of trying to make the perfect thing. You are always going to screw some things up and have to fix them later. Better to learn what those are as quick as possible.
Rachel: Don’t get discouraged. It can be really hard to put yourself out there and you might feel like you’re spinning your wheels for a few months. Keep working at it, it’s hard but you will see results grow over time.
Chris: We’re launching concrete tie clips as part of the Escudero Collection, and I’m really excited. We’ve been working on them over the Holidays and I’m really excited how they turned out.
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Loving Hanover Designs? Shop their site and get a 15% discount with code: “GetGlam” for a limited time!