Fibre & Wool accessories to bring more positivity into your life and your home

Interview with EKA

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Tell us a bit about your gorgeous brand EKA?

I started EKA up in 2004, I can’t even believe it when I write that, but it started as a small side hustle when I was snowboarding full time and I kept it that way for probably a bit more than 6 years. When I joined the online marketplace notonthehightstreet.com things really started taking off for me, it was something I realised could become my full-time job if I wanted and that felt really exciting. Long story short, I gave up snowboarding, and here I am. 

We love that EKA Wear has such strong values, can you tell us why you chose this path for your brand?

At first, I was making my products myself, it was just me in the mountains making hats and headbands and selling them. I knew this wasn’t sustainable for growth or even sustainable profit margins (especially as I was only working on it about 25%) and I knew I needed help with production but all the obvious routes just seemed to go to China, for political reasons I didn’t want that, but it was so hard to find any production agents or contacts anywhere else. Then a coincidence saved everything. A friend from school contacted me and we met for coffee, he had been working in film and was just back from a fascinating township in India where he was making a documentary. It turned out the friends he had living there, a place called Auroville, was working manufacturing crocheted garments! … That truly was a lucky coincidence. So in a nutshell, the township takes care of all of the sustainable and ethical priorities I’d dreamed of and I get to work with amazingly talented artisans that create my collection for me from the samples I make while I focus on the rest of the business, like marketing and sales.

It’s been a crazy year for everyone. Eka Wear radiates happiness and positive vibes. Do you have any tips for staying upbeat, even when business gets tough?

This year has been so strange, I feel very lucky to have been in a position to make the most of it. I got super inspired by the creativity I saw coming from other small businesses and launched a ‘how to crochet’ tutorial series. This pandemic has had so many negative effects on us as a close community, but online I felt like it strengthened the community massively, I love how supportive everyone is, those communities are so important and such a positive force. There were things I look back on and regret not having done in time, I have been working on patterns and kits for my designs and I saw things like that taking off big time during the lockdown in the UK, but I just wasn’t happy with things yet and it didn’t feel good, you know? so I focused on my dreamcatchers and wall hangings that are personalised with manifestations to promote more positivity in the home and the crochet tutorials and the rest of the time I focused on learning how to run facebook adverts and built myself a new website. When I look at what I achieved in 2020 I’m pretty blown away, I finally focused on working ‘on’ the company rather than ‘in’ it, I took care of orders (I make all the dreamcatchers here) but I also took care of the bigger picture of where I wanted to be structurally, I now have the foundations needed to grow in a way which wasn’t possible this time last year, I think this is where the positivity comes from tbh, I finally feel in proper control of my business and that I’m doing my products justice. In the past, it’s been a real ‘flood/drought’ situation throughout the year and it never felt like I could prepare for those busy times, this year I feel ready! (🤞🏼) 

Next to having beautiful images, you also blog and post video’s on your website and social media. Is that part of your marketing strategy?

My general ’strategy’ is to produce material that people enjoy, I want to be a brand that inspires my customers and readers to bring little things into their lives that help perfect the life they live, be it a baby nursery wall hanging personalised with a magic incantation or a matching ‘mummy and me’ pair of cosy slipper socks for baby snuggles by the fire or a cute organic cotton case for their laptop to make even work feel special ; )

You’ve been featured quite a bit lately, congratulations! How do you think this helps you grow your brand?

Every bit helps absolutely, the aspect of being ‘vouched for’ by influencers, bloggers, or magazines is really reassuring to customers. The other great thing, even though it’s a bit boring, are backlinks to the site, SEO is a really good way to show up when potential customers search for something online. NotOnTheHighStreet.com has had something of my collection in their Christmas adverts last year and this year too, I can’t even tell you have lucky I feel for the support from them over the years, I wouldn’t be able to be doing what I am right now without them.

So even with some serious multi plate spinning going on at this time of year, how do you find time to work on getting exposure for EKA Wear?

I feel like I’ve spent the last 15 years just putting out fires at this time of year, it’s left me feeling as if maybe I missed out on opportunities. This year I have a VA to help me with the multi-tasking. I also work with a business coach www.thejennypace.com to get more achieved. So far so good, I’ve managed to get a lot more done, especially with communications, I’m usually pretty quiet on social media when I’m so busy, frantically making orders for things out of stock and answering customer inquiries, this year I’ve scheduled and delegated a lot more. Press Cookie has helped me so much with the templates and walkthroughs, it saves so much time and helps me tick off some jobs from the list without spending the entire day doing them!

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Do you have any tips for creative entrepreneurs who want to grow their media exposure, but don’t know where to start?

I really think you have to just get on with what you’re doing, be consistent with social media and make sure you have a bunch of great images to send out for press to use. A great plus for me is that my husband’s a photographer. I’d say one thing you don’t really realise at first is that a few good shots of you in the studio working on your collection are priceless, press loves a good ‘maker in their habitat’ picture, it speaks to people and tells them the brand story, this is your way of communicating and attracting your crowd. Show them who you are and what their money is supporting, that story is why they want to support your brand rather than buy something cheap from a big company (who probably ripped off your design and sent it to China to reproduce 🙄 – bygones)

A new year, 2021 is coming up! What are your future plans for EKA?

Right now, apart from dealing with a  lot of orders (I’m predominantly a gifting brand so Christmas is manic for me) I’m also finishing off my samples for next winter, I am growing the kids range a fair bit but the most exciting development is my crochet patterns which I’m finalising now, I plan to work on some more tutorial videos on my YouTube series, my plan is to get a great little community together that can grow and create together.

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