From small market stall to much-loved Australian brand, Francesa is the on-trend designer jewellery label by sisters Hannah & Rachel. Working with sterling silver and solid gold, the two sisters meld their contrasting styles to create striking contemporary pieces. Enjoy my Q&A below:
Tell us, how was Francesca Collections born?
Hannah: My first jewellery brand was Handmade by Hannah. I started that at 16 and used to sell my beaded creations at Salamanca Market in Hobart. As I got older and entered University (studying a totally unrelated degree), I started to become more serious about my jewellery and realised that I could turn my passion into a business! Handmade by Hannah wasn’t a scalable brand and I knew I wanted to shift towards jewellery that appealed to people around my age. I knew this had to be one word with a strong brand presence. I was at the beach brainstorming with a friend when we came up with Francesca, the name my mum wanted to call me. From there we rebranded with a new logo, mission statement and sleek design. After that the brand just grew in leaps and bounds!
Did you face any challenges when starting out?
Hannah: I faced both internal and external pressure to take a safer route. After studying and completing a Science Law degree I was offered a position at a top Law firm in Tasmania. The problem was I had to choose between my business and the job. Against a lot of advice I chose to pursue Francesca and went on to open my first store in Hobart a month later. I’m so glad I went down that path, but I didn’t have a lot of support at the time. There was certainly a belief around that being young and female in business wouldn’t work. Funnily enough a lot of those people who doubted me in the beginning are now hugely supportive of the brand.
Funding and capital are always a struggle any start-up faces and finding that capital to open my first store, that was huge. It’s still an ongoing struggle, but one we manage to get through. I think the other huge learning curve has been becoming an employer and hiring employees. It’s taken me time to learn who I’m looking for and to know how to both be a friend and a boss to the people I employ!
What has been your most memorable career highlight?
Rachel: So far winning the Telstra business awards has been an amazing achievement. It was a massive shock to hear Francesca announced on the night, especially considering the caliber of businesses who entered.
For me personally, the most memorable career highlight so far was shooting our recent campaign in Bali. Photography has been a passion of mine for a while and I have always dreamed of shooting in a beautiful overseas location. Being able to do that this year with our amazing team was something I will never forget.
Hannah: Showcasing my jewellery at the Golden Globes stands out as a huge highlight! I had only recently opened the first store when I was invited to go. I got to meet some amazing people including a Victoria’s Secret Angel and an actress from one of my favourite TV shows. It was pretty amazing to have them wearing Francesca.
The other highlight has to be opening our stores. When I opened my first store in Hobart it was a serious gamble. Most small designers sell through other stores and so I knew that going out on my own was a little unusual. It seriously paid off though and we actually relaunched the store in a new location about 18 months later. Last year we opened our first Melbourne store, also the first store outside of Tasmania. That was a huge deal for us to have a store in a city we don’t live in!
If you could style one celebrity in your jewellery who would it be and why?
Rachel: My celebrity crush is Blake Lively; I love what she stands for and have grown up loving her. She not only has amazing style she also seems really genuine and reflects the ideal Franc girl.
Hannah: Haha I have to go with Blake Lively too. I just love her style and down to earth attitude.
Describe your collection in three words
Rachel: Simplistic, Chic & classic
Hannah: Classic, timeless and inspiring
Your must have for summer would be (from your collection)
Rachel: A vibrant bracelet stack! I love the ways a stack can take your outfit from zero to hero, whether you’re going for a beachy boho look or quite classic, the stacks are super versatile & reflect someone’s style really well!
Hannah: I have to agree with Rachel, it’s definitely a bright stack! Our Franc Stacks have been a bit of a break out for the brand. A throwback to our market days, our stacks are made of five or more handbeaded bracelets that vary in colour, size, shape and material. Every stack is unique to the customer that creates it. Even we are addicted to creating and changing our stacks!
Check out the collection here.