Around these parts, we like to learn about and from people who are running their own businesses – business we love and admire, and the women who are running shit behind the scenes. This week’s interview is with Lexi Pathak, one of the founders of Toronto-based jewelry boutique Haathi House. In our interview Lexi tells us about the importance of developing a business plan, creating a team with complementary skills, and which of her jewelry designs she’d bring with her on a deserted island. Here we go!
Mind your Business: Tell us a bit about your background? What made you decide to start your own line?
Lexi: Fashion and design is something I have always gravitated towards, ever since I was young. In my teens I modelled and always loved talking with designers about their collections and inspirations. I was always more interested in what was going on behind the camera, rather than in front of it. For the last 10 plus years I have worked in PR, and the last five in an amazing boutique lifestyle agency called Faulhaber Communications. Through my role as Director I have been exposed to talented designers, creative brains and innovative entrepreneurs, and have had many behind-the-scenes experiences within the wonderful and wild world of fashion and design. At Faulhaber we help to build brands and expand their reach and awareness. I have always been creative and love to have many things on the go, so when we decided to launch HAATHI HOUSE, it was a logical extension to the experience and knowledge I developed throughout my career. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love jewellery and how my fingers are always covered in rings, so it was a natural fit. Additionally my sister’s husband is in the custom high-end jewellery business, so there was entry point into the production side of the business.
MyB: What kind of research did you do before starting your own business?
Lexi:We created a full business plan. This included everything from competitor analysis, to brand positioning, to market research, to researching the tools to make our own website. Both Alex (co-founder) and I have a lot of skills and experience running a business. Mine through my work at Faulhaber, and Alex through running his own design business. My sister, the third partner in HAATHI HOUSE, brings the accountant and production skills. Each of us have different attributes and experience that we contribute to HAATHI HOUSE, which balance one another nicely.
MyB: How did you promote your work to make sure your designs got in front of the right eyes?Lexi:Luckily I have a lot of great relationships from working in PR for so long. This certainly makes it a bit easier in terms of getting our products in front of people. Alex runs our Instagram @haathihouse which is another way fabulous way to connect to people. Being a fashion brand that doesn’t release a ton of new products, we look to seasonal times of the year to promote our collection, including key gift giving dates like the holidays, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.
MyB: What inspires your designs?
Lexi: Our designs are inspired by a love of wanderlust. We take our inspirations from around the world. It’s a very boho vibe, but at the same time modern and clean. All our products are gold with fine gemstones. We use only the best stones and minimum 14K gold. Everything is made to order in Toronto.
Lexi: The most challenging part, at least for our business, is finding time. I am a new mother and also have a full-time job as Director at Faulhaber Communications. Alex is an artist and a lighting designer and an interior designer. My sister has newborn twins, a busy four-year-old, and runs a thoroughbred farm with 30+ horses. We all wear a lot of hats! So our biggest challenging is making sure we carve out enough time for HAATHI HOUSE. Sometimes it means that things go a little slower then we like, but on the flip side, owning your own business means you can make up the rules as you go. The best part of having your own business is the thrill of knowing its yours. When we see HAATHI HOUSE in a magazine, or when we get a sale, there is a tremendous amount of pride and excitement knowing that it is our work.
MyB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Lexi: Be authentic and do what you love. Life is too short to do something that doesn’t make you happy.
MyB: If you could only take one of your pieces to a deserted island with you, which would it be and why?
Lexi: I would take the mood earrings with gemstones because they are interchangeable so its gives you multiple looks. Plus this way I could express how I was feeling even if I was too parched to talk!
MyB: Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would change if you had to start all over again?
Lexi: It would be great to have a bit more capital or investors. We have so many ideas for new designs, but the reality of creating new samples when you are working with gold and gemstones is that it is quite expensive. It would be beneficial to have a bit of support financially so we could grow the company faster.MyB: Can you give us any insight into new collections, new projects or collaborations?
Lexi: We have a ton of ideas for designs. Currently we are working on new collections inspired by a love of the ocean, wildlife and nature. We are also working on some pieces to add to the Wild Romance and HAATHI Fine lines. More to come soon!