By Charlotte founder Charlotte Blakeney shares the opportunities and challenges of ethical sourcing with www.ragtrader.com.au.
When did you first launch?
By Charlotte launched in October of 2012. I was working full time as a hair and makeup artist and began creating necklaces in my spare time. Having always loved jewellery it all happened very organically as it was another creative outlet for me.
What has been the biggest challenge since launching your business?
Our stones are ethically sourced so finding these quality stones and gems from around the world has been a challenge and a labour of love. All I can say as to how we overcame this…persistence!
Building the right team that love working and creating together has always been a bit of a challenge. I feel that the By Charlotte team is super strong and dedicated now and I feel very blessed to have such a supportive team.
How has the brand evolved?
I started By Charlotte with only six necklaces, each embellished with our signature lotus. The lotus continues to be our most recognised symbol, representing enlightenment and new beginnings. As the brand gained momentum the product offering naturally grew and we now also offer crystal ring holders and candles with the plan to continue to grow our lifestyle offering.
Before I started By Charlotte I found it difficult to buy jewels on the market that held a deeper meaning, which is what I look for when purchasing jewellery for myself or a loved one. From the beginning, I knew I wanted my designs to reach the heart of the sentimental spirited girl. This is something that has always remained constant.
Social media has without a doubt allowed the brand to grow and evolve as we’ve been able to pinpoint our customer demographic and ensure we are designing with her in mind.
What are your price points?
I like to ensure there is always something for everyone no matter your budget. Our jewellery offering starts at $89 and moves up to $600. The higher price point is for our luxe pieces that are all 14K gold and adorned with diamonds, whereas our main ranges that are available in silver, gold and rose gold plating are between the $89 and $220.
What's your current distribution strategy?
Understanding our girl and where she likes to shop has been a large contributor to where we stock our jewels. We love to find gorgeous bohemian boutiques both here in Australia and overseas that complement the collections.
We wholesaled from the beginning which was an amazing way to introduce the brand to a wide audience all around Australia. Two years later we opened a flagship store which is in Paddington, NSW. The store has proven very successful and is a nice touch point for customers to have a deeper understanding of the By Charlotte story, aesthetic and feeling. We also sell online at bycharlotte.com.au which continues to be an incredible sales channel for us.
Where are you currently stocked?
We are currently stocked in over 75 boutiques across Australia and overseas. The US are really responding to the brand now which is fantastic. At the end of last year we began stocking retail giant Anthropologie which was an amazing way to end the year. Being stocked in Anthropologie is a dream come true for me! In terms of Australian stockists, we’re very happy with the number and quality of the boutiques we’re in, so this year there is definitely an overseas focus.
What has been a successful initiative that has driven growth?
Creating jewellery with intention. Since the beginning each piece I design is made with purpose, whether it be a symbol that represents a feeling, or a belief or inscription which the wearer can read as a daily mantra or reminder. I honestly believe people continue to be drawn to our collections because each piece carries a message or intention they resonate with.
What has been the biggest opportunity?
By Charlotte gracing the cover of Harper’s BAZAAR at the very early stages of the brand’s life with Rosie Huntington-Whitley as the celebrity set the benchmark for By Charlotte. I was working as a makeup artist on the shoot and they actually used the By Charlotte necklace I was wearing that day as they had struggled to source jewellery that was delicate enough. Rosie wore our signature Lotus Necklace and to this day it is still one of my favourite images which has been seen by thousands around the country.
What are some of the key-selling trends or styles so far this year?
It’s all about layering! Girls are loving layering their necklaces – two or three necklaces at a time which has a beautiful bohemian look to it. They’re also obsessed with layering the ear with multiple piercings and mixing and matching different earrings to create an eclectic look. We have the option for customer to purchase several of our earrings as singles so they can really have fun with mixing metals and styles for a unique look.
Have you noticed any trends in terms of purchasing habits?
We’ve received an amazing reaction to our personalised jewels. I launched the Blessed Lotus collection late last year which features twelve birthstone necklaces, one for each month featuring the month’s birthstone and a unique inscribed mantra. Everyone is loving the collection and the messages each month carries.
What are your key sale periods?
October through to January is our busiest time which can be attributed to the lead up to Christmas. Jewellery always makes a beautiful gift for loved ones.
Have you made any other back-end changes?
We are continually learning, updating and perfecting our online channels and have just launched a new website. We took our time developing it and are very happy with the outcome as it makes for a seamless shopping experience for our online customers.
What else is ahead for 2019?
We’ve just launched our AW19 collection, Mantra, which is now available in stores and online. This collection focuses on affirmations and the power of positive thought through a range of beautifully unique styles.