Napoleon Hill once said, “The changed world requires practical dreamers who can and will, put their dreams into action.” Hannah and Rachel are the practical dreamers behind the much loved jewellery label, Francesca.
Starting out at the Salamanca Markets in Tasmania the brand has gone from strength to strength, due solely to the conviction and passion that Hannah and Rachel have for the company and what it stands for. A phrase you’ll hear time and time again in interviews with the sisters, is “Success means nothing unless you’re giving back”, and it’s this ethos that they continue to live and work by. The aim at Francesca is to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and in 2018 they donated over $100,000 to charities including Be Hers, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and National Breast Cancer Organisation. Francesca jewellery combines beautiful design with a more important message of giving back.
Let’s start with the ground work- Where you live? Do you have partners? Pets?
H: I live in Hobart. I live with husband and my two beautiful furbabies, they’re blue staffies, MJ and Bella!
R: I recently moved to Melbourne where I am surrounded by my incredible friends & Franc Fam! I’m currently single haha and my fur baby is back home in Tassie! Her name is Peggy.
Hannah, huge congratulations on your pregnancy! Announcing on Mother’s Day must have been so special! Will you be taking maternity leave, or is Baby Rad going to slot right into the Francesca life?
H: Yes I definitely hope to take maternity leave, even though baby is due right before Christmas! But I’m also super lucky to have an amazing team who will support me whilst I am out of office. And I can work from home and bring the baby in after leave too!!
Your family sound so close, it’s lovely to see them popping up on your socials. How instrumental have they been in the growth of Francesca?
H: Rachel and I have 6 years difference between us and we found we’ve become closer and closer since getting older! Mum was the one who started it all when she took me to a beading store at the age of 12 and Dad has always been a really great sounding board for business advice!
R: We are a very close family and creating business ventures has always been a dinner table conversation. We’re all very active in making what we speak about come to fruition and that has been imperative in the growth of Francesca.
Were you both business minded when you were young? I’ve heard some funny stories!
H: When I was 12 I began making jewellery but my first successful business was actually at 13 when I had to travel 2 hours from a remote town in NSW to school each day. 20 hours a week on a bus meant lots of hungry children, so I began selling wholesale lollies on the bus and it became a really lucrative business!
R: Definitely! I’m not sure if it came naturally to me or if I just picked up the tricks of the trade from my older siblings. But the funniest business venture I ever went on was at about 7yrs of age in our small town we grew up in I would walk around and pick neighbours flowers, arrange them and sell them back to them for 50c…. Ruthless.
When I saw Hannah creating ‘Handmade by Hannah’ at the markets I started a little business called ‘Cute as a Button’. I would spend every opportunity finding buttons at second hand stores and create children’s hair clips etc. I even wholesaled to Rubies Room at one stage… a 12 year old without an ABN or a clue!
Showcasing your jewellery at the Golden Globes must have seemed like a dream! Did you get to meet anyone who left you starstruck?
H: The Golden Globes really was truly a dream come true!! We did some amazing pieces for an Australian Cricketers wedding and were approached to showcase in Hollywood! I packed 2 suitcases of jewellery- minimal clothing and literally flew to Hollywood for three days. It was a blast, I gave jewellery to all sorts of celebrities and models! My favourites were the Victoria Secret Models!
R: I remember when Hannah was heading off overseas and it seemed like such an exciting but hard to believe experience. The photos when she returned really cemented that no matter where you come from you don’t have limits if you have conviction and passion.
The Be Hers range- this is such a wonderful organisation and cause to be raising money for, and it’s obvious how passionate you both are about it. Is giving back something that was instilled in you growing up?
H: I believe this is something my parents inately instilled in us but it didn’t come apparent til a few years into the business. Rachel and I kept saying to each other, “We can’t just sell jewellery, we have such a large following we want to make a difference!” A friend introduced me to the local charity Be Hers and we were so touched by thought of millions of people who are in slavery. At this stage we didn’t have excess funds to donate but we were making jewellery so we released our first collection ‘Let Courage Bloom’ and the first day of sales we raised $10,000 with every pieces price being donated!
R: Absolutely! Our dad is probably one of the most generous people I know and mum has a heart of gold when it comes to opening her home to people. So I think it was instilled in us from the very beginning. Despite the excitement that comes with what we do, I don’t think either of us would ever feel fulfilled if we didn’t give back.
I had a moment not long ago where I said out loud to the office, “Guys… we sell jewellery” and it felt so mundane even though we had already started donating to charities. So this is something that is only going to get bigger as we grow. Be Hers is a huge part of that, Hannah and I both have dreams to travel to 3rd world countries and start a foundation down the track.
Is if difficult to decide on which charities to support? You must have hundreds of requests. Do you go on your gut feelings, or look in to causes that need extra help with funding?
H: On the back of the success of Be Hers we were getting a lot of charities reaching out to us to support. We really wanted to support everyone but we decided we would focus our efforts monthly to a particularly charity, so we could educate our customers and raise awareness! We put it out to our customers for their input and we also choose charities that our staff may have been affected by in some way!
R: The hardest part is saying no to charities once we have decided, but there is definitely solace in knowing that there’s always next year and hopefully year after year we can help others. When it comes to choosing there are some charities that really make your heart sink, particularly the ones where from diagnosis to time left with loved ones is so short, they’re the ones I am passionate about supporting.
What do you think most sets Francesca apart from other jewellery brands that may have a similar selling and price points?
H: Since day one down at Salamanca Markets we have been sharing the dream and our journey. To this day we have people who have been following us for over 10 years since being served at the markets! I think we have been able to share with our customers the dream of starting something from nothing and them being able to be a part of our successes!
Our quality is definitely something we pride ourselves on and a reason that I believe sets us apart from other brands! AND we still handmade over 50% of our collections in Hobart!
R: Our biggest difference is that we give everything meaning, and the story of where we came from. The element of meaning once again gives what we do a little more purpose. Rather than selling something for aesthetic reasons we also allow the wearer to connect a story to their piece. Some of the stories we have had shared about why people have purchased from us pulls on the heart strings.
How big a part does social media play in your advertising and the success of Francesca?
H: Our best advertising has always been word of mouth, customers who create customers! But since building our social media following we have found it has really helped us have standing with regard to new customers and brand proof!
R: A very large role! Traditional marketing techniques have definitely become a little more irrelevant these days and social media has handed the microphone over to customers a lot more. It also gives Francesca a global stage to advertise beyond our bricks and mortar stores.
Do you have a favourite piece of jewellery that you wear every day?
H: I am super plain and simple and love the pieces that I don’t have to ever take off! So I would have to say that my signature necklace in silver and a plain stack is my go to every day wear!!
R: My Amaretto Ring will be with me forever. Hannah and I call it our Sister ring- although I think she’s lost hers haha! But also most of our Franc girls have it.
Do you have a morning (or night) routine that is just for you?
H: I am a huge fan of self development and something which changed a lot for me is a routine called the Miracle Morning. It is a book where the author studied all the routines of successful people and made his perfect routine! A huge part of my day is a meditation in the morning which sets my mindset for the day ahead.
R: I wish I could say I’m a morning person with an inspiring routine but I’ve actually been nicknamed “Daria” like the tv show back in the day, because until I’ve had my morning coffee I barely speak. Come night its hard to switch off… maybe I’m nocturnal.
Who is your current favourite insta account?
H: Since becoming pregnant I have loved following @sarahs_day
R: @garyvee – he’s my kind of inspiring, no fluffy stuff but always very pertinent and succinct in his words of wisdom.
A few Q’S from my followers!
Do you have a motto that you live life by?
H: I love Desiderata the poem. Never compare yourself to someone else, there is always someone better off or worse off than you.
R: Currently; “You do you” – I truly don’t believe enough people are embracing individuality at the moment and the comparison game is running rogue.
What do you to do relax?
H: What’s relaxing? Haha I love to go for drives and road trips with my husband! He really helps me relax. Or a hot bath!
R: Photography mission somewhere super scenic. Nothing makes my mind happier.
One beauty product you couldn’t live without?
H: Dennis Gross Beta peel wipes!
R: My stilla eyeliner
What do you spend the most money on?
H: Skincare! I am a serial skin care and makeup buyer and i am known to buy a whole collection and then change it to a new brand later! I am still on the hunt for the perfect kit!
R: Clothes… I have serious issues.
Drink of choice?
H: I would love a nice red wine right now!!
R: Sloe Gin