Australian jewellery label F+H has been seen on some of the world's leading ladies, from Lara Worthington to Margot Robbie. Sharona Harris has built the now cult brand from the ground up, using her PR savvy and clear talent to create jewellery for the edgy, yet feminine, woman.
Below, marie claire speaks to Harris about what it takes to build a brand from scratch.
How did your F+H jewellery journey begin?
It started as a coffee and conversation with a friend about starting a brand, and at the time I saw a huge gap in the market for jewellery with an edge. Most jewellery was really fine, very feminine or bohemian which is really not my style so I wanted to create something that suited females like me. I like my accessories to be strong but minimal, and a little bit tough, so F+H was started to create jewellery with a balance between feminine and masculine styling.
You have quite an unusual background for a jewellery designer. Does your PR experience help you in your business?
Yes definitely! Marketing is so important and takes up a lot of your time as a business owner. Great product is key to long term success without a doubt but without strong marketing and PR your customer won’t find you and you will easily become overshadowed by competition and new brands which are always coming to market. To run a successful brand you need a real balance and understanding of both sides, having a marketing background has been instrumental in getting F+H off the ground and continuing the growth of the brand.
Starting a brand can be terrifying. What was your lightbulb moment when you knew you wanted to take the leap?
I don’t think there was one moment for me, but rather a lifetime of training. I have always worked for successful entrepreneurs, so over time I just reached a point where I needed to take the next step to become more fulfilled with my career. I really enjoy working, problem-solving and I have plenty of drive, so taking the leap wasn’t that scary for me. Also in the first year or two F+H was a side project, I think that a slow and steady start was also key to success, as I took my time to figure things out while the business was very small.
You're involved in every aspect of your brand – from the designs to the online site to the campaigns. Have you had any moments where it was all just too much?
Yes, I think every business owner has a WTF am I doing moment when it all seems too much, but that passes and you don’t dwell on those moments. It’s a rollercoaster and you just have to strap in for the ride. In saying that there are always going to be parts of your business you love doing and parts you struggle with, but just because you don’t enjoy doing something doesn’t mean you should avoid it, you just roll your sleeves up, figure it out and get on with it. Being self-motivated to get through the difficult times is essential.
What would be your advice to young women who are also wanting to take the risk?
Start small, ask a lot of questions, and don’t take risks that you can’t afford. It’s also incredibly important to be realistic about what running a brand means, it means you are a designer, marketer, accountant, stylist, digital planner and customer service representative all rolled into one, so just make sure you’ve considered all these aspects of the business and you’re ready to commit to it. That said, running your own business is one of the most rewarding things you can do and the flexibility and freedom is wonderful.
What has been one of your most defining moments since beginning the brand?
Collaborating with Bec & Bridge to create a three-piece earring collection for them last year was definitely a defining moment; to be working with one of Australia’s most successful fashion brands and receiving their endorsement was a very proud moment. Also having Margot Robbie wearing F+H was a big moment!
For you, what are the ultimate goals for the future of F+H?
The next step for F+H is to focus on the overseas market, until now I have bee predominately focused on building my domestic business so securing key wholesale partnership overseas is next. I have just confirmed F+H will be stocked in the premium Intersection boutique in Korea which is exciting, and NZ is established with a great relationship with Superette Stores. I have also started looking at expanding the brand into other product areas and creating collaborative partnerships with other brands…watch this space.
If you could describe the F+H woman in three words, what would they be?
Strong, Confident, Wild.
Shop the latest F+H collection here.