Georgia Hardinge, Founder of Georgia Hardinge
How did you start your own business / where did you get the idea for the concept?
I started my business after my final collection at university got a lot of media attention with a celebrity dressing coming as a result. I was then scouted by the likes of Samantha Cameron and Erin O’Connor who had set up an initiative that supported new designers trying to make waves in the industry. I have always been inspired by sculpture and particularly architecture, I was thinking of studying either one at university, until I thought about how I could create artistic structures that could be transformed into fabric and worn on the body. It was then that I went on to study Fashion at Parsons in Paris, winning ‘The Golden Thimble’ for my year group. I went on to develop my aesthetic further, into the sculptural label that it is today.
Who is a woman who inspires you?
I am lucky to be surrounded by incredibly talented women, so it is impossible to choose just one as they all inspire me daily. I lost my mother at a young age, so I always think about what she would say to inspire and advise me.
What milestone are you most proud of?
Having my business for 10 years has brought me a lot of proud moments which I cherish, it’s hard to pick just one. Having my work exhibited in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in collaboration with The Elephant Family was an incredible moment, getting to see the exhibit with my closest friends and raise money for animal conservation charities. Another key milestone was opening my first physical store on St Christopher’s Place. I thoroughly enjoyed developing the concepts for the space in collaboration with Studio Lucy Sanderson, to create an interior that mirrors my brand’s aesthetic.
What’s the riskiest move you’ve taken in your business?
Making the shift to sit in the emerging ‘contemporary market’. My brand had always previously sat in the luxury market, with a high price point which I think limited my customer base. By restructuring the brand we were able to sit at a more affordable price point without compromising on quality or our ethics. This particular risk paid off and we were able to widen our audience.
What has been the most difficult part of growing your business?
Developing an online presence in the fashion industry. With online sales slowly taking over the face of retail, I decided to open an e-shop on my website in 2015. At that time, it was hard to promote online, with limited resources to use, so this proved to be a challenge. Since then it has built from strength to strength and has accumulated an excellent following.
What 3 traits do you think are most important when running a successful business?
I would say maintaining a good work life balance, employing a good team that you can trust and knowing when to adapt the business due to external factors such as the economic climate.
What’s the best business advice you have ever received?
Listen to your customers. We aim to put our customers at the forefront of design. Styles that they want back in stock, or the fit of certain garments, we adapt pieces that we sell based on feedback from the wearer. Our bestselling Dazed Dress is always available and changed into a variety of styles to suit different customers – midi length, floor length, fitted styles and loose styles.
Any advice to future entrepreneurs?
Find your niche and develop it into something that your customers will recognise you for.