"I started with HUGE, RIDICULOUS dreams that I realised I could only accomplish (AND I WILL one day) if I started step by step and invoice by invoice."
Passion and dedication are two words that we associate with the most successful fashion designers, when we hear about their success stories years down the track. We are so glad we came across Lauren Cooke, after we saw her interesting new fashion label Heirs. Her products are highly differentiated, which services a niche, but is also a risk for any business. Lauren is so humble about her initial success, and it was great to learn from her stories.
If you have ever considered designing your own label, whether it is clothing or accessories, we recommend you have a read of Lauren's interview. We know that it's so difficult to find out where to start, but often, all it takes is someone like Lauren to motivate you to make that leap. Lauren was actually our inspiration for our new Fashion Labels page - check it out!
What inspired you to start Heirs?
I have worked in styling and fashion for a while now and wanted to make my own stamp on the world rather than use other peoples design- something that was truly my own. I realised when studying at the Angewandte fashion class that accessories were my direction, rather than clothing. It is scary, especially as I am financing everything myself but well worth it. I started with HUGE, RIDICULOUS dreams that I realised I could only accomplish (AND I WILL one day) if I started step by step and invoice by invoice.
The concept of HEIRS was born at the same time as I wanted to start HENWOOD (my preservation label). I guess it is asking yourself what is important for yourself and finding a way to do it. For me I couldn’t rule out my true belief - that innovation cannot exist without preservation and so I jumped into both. I get excited about both- preserving old heritage and craftsmanship that is slowly fading out, as well as innovation and modern industrial processes that are redefining the future. It is just what I want to do and feel the two are inextricably linked.
You have two accessories labels, Heirs and Henwood. What are the differences between the two?
Firstly, they are both tiny and I started them with HUGE dreams and a TINY budget. I have reduced my immediate dreams and found ways to produce tiny collections that make me move forward with both….without giving up on those dreams and aspirations but taking them step by step. HENWOOD is a preservation line that focuses on heritage handcraft techniques (capsule collection of embroidered, rafia earrings will be out for Vienna Design week in Fall). For that I use my knowledge (OBSESSION) with old handcraft techniques, very fine material and incredible craftsmen to help me. For HEIRS, I use modern, cutting edge processes and design to produce pieces that I feel redefine convention.
You believe that INNOVATION is just as important as PRESERVATION. Can you please elaborate?
I think I have answered this..but yes..it is my ethos. I think you need to know what has been before you in order to do something new. They are inextricably linked for me.
What are your customers most favorite collections?
My fingertip rings are the favourite pieces so far…. but I am excited to keep designing and learning what my customers love most.
What is your personal favorite collection?
I have only done 1 so I can only speak about that..I am learning by doing… but without wanting to sound arrogant I believe that SIRIUS is a strong debut collection. I have had some really exciting opportunities over the last few weeks from industry professionals that make me believe in it even more. The fingertip rings such as ALPHA and POLARIS are really innovative design that I can stand strongly behind. There will be some very exciting fashion idols wearing them soon which I am immensely proud of. The collection of Henwood earrings is in production and I can’t wait to show the world once I have finished them. I will be wearing them all winter.
How did you discover a need for this type of product in the marketplace?
I don’t really believe there is a NEED, fashion is a luxury, however, I don’t like the fleeting nature of fashion. I believe that design can be considered beautiful forever. I live in a country that I wasn’t born in but believe in as a hub for design and craftsmanship. I think that I want to show the world that Austria must also be considered as a hub for design and innovation today, not just in the past. The people I meet are truly inspirational and the slow pace of life allows them to maintain some old crafts.Engagement rings are my favourite things to design-for both labels. I feel the NEED is perhaps greater there. The need to design something that the client loves and can look at everyday on their hand and smile. That is a great honour. Engagement rings are unique, timeless and magical.
What has been the most difficult aspect of getting your brand off the ground and how did you overcome that?
FEAR is a real issue. It took me longer than most due to that exact reason. Sleepless nights, lack of confidence and no-one to bounce ideas off can be challenging as you watch your bank balance dwindle and your energy plummet. I have the most incredibly inspiring friends that I couldn’t survive without - they keep me sane, driven and thankful in those moments. The financial aspect is very difficult. If someone gave me a huge pot of gold I feel I would fly… but if you approach it as a challenge then the financial burden becomes a clear indicator that you want to pursue your dreams even more.
What are two aspects of business in which you believe a new brand should invest resources?
PR. If I could afford it then I would most certainly invest here first. Getting people around the world to see your work is normally the main motivation and can obviously boost sales drastically.
"I wanted to find something the world hasn’t already seen– a new definition of beauty that is new and extraordinary." Our comment: Yes. We see that in your products. All of it.
That is very humbling, thank you so much. BLUSH! Watch out future!
What are the services that consumers can take advantage of from your company?
It was important for me that HEIRS pieces were what I consider ‘affordable’ despite the small amounts I produce and therefore I took the decision to plate the sterling silver pieces. The plating is done using a new technique and is double thickness to conventional plating as well as being rhodanized- it is therefore very durable. I do offer my clients to contact me regarding ‘servicing’ pieces so that they can keep them looking great (plating/polishing) and I can truly know the durability of the processes that I am experimenting with. I also believe customer satisfaction is what will keep you growing as a brand and gain loyalty so I reply to every email, every call. People have requested the rings in real diamonds and gold and one off pieces such as engagement rings which I am always happy to do.
Any pieces of advice for young entrepreneurs who want to open similar labels like yours?
DO IT! You only regret what you didn’t try. Through failure comes knowledge. No one ever changed the world through copying- be an original.
How do our readers buy your products? Do you ship internationally?
Yes, I ship worldwide. Because I am so new it is actually really exciting for me to send pieces to far away places. I really value it. Currently I have an exclusive at STEFFL department store but as of October my online shop will go live and customers will be able to buy directly from me. www.heirs.at and a few select concept stores.
One of our team members just got so excited checking your products, for the readers of Model Citizen App, do they get a special discount? (Please ignore this. My team member forced me to ask you this)
Of course, just email me… I am always open to discussion. Every sale gets me one step further….My stock is limited but I will do my best.
We have aspiring models on the site, for your labels, how do you choose your models?
I have the best agency WIENER MODELS that I have worked with in the industry for years. Kosmas, the head booker has an eye like no other and sees beauty where others initially don’t… I aspire to do the same with my design and will keep sourcing strange beauty for my future collections. The world needs more … whenever people wish to contact me I am ALWAYS open for fresh faces to consider.
We love you Lauren! Thank you for this opportunity.
I LOVE YOU TOO MODEL CITIZEN APP TEAM!!! Thank you so much for this opportunity.