Kerry Harvey, co-founder of jewellery brand BOING, tells of her husband’s unique inspiration for the company and how it has grown into a thriving, steadfast business
Tell me a bit about how the company started. What was the aim of the label when it was launched?
BOING was inspired by the ropes my husband relied on for safety in the many outdoor sports he did in the '90s. He trekked in South America, New Zealand, the Pyrenees and Scotland. He ice-climbed, abseiled, bungee-jumped, rafted, waterskied, paraglided and loved windsurfing so much he took this passion to every continent, but his big love was being on top of mountains. Amongst others, he scaled Venezuela's highest mountain, Pico Bolivar, then Nevado Pisco in Peru, during which he missed a crevasse by a foot while popping to the loo during the night, so BOING could have disappeared into oblivion years before it eventually arrived! Ropes were essential for most of these activities, and he built up a sizeable collection - all tough, beautiful and tactile. He always felt these ropes could be turned into a colourful, simple outdoor bracelet with the right connecting clasp for a more extreme sports market in the UK. That's where I came in, and in 2011 we worked on designing an engineered clasp that is effective, unfussy, attractive and, importantly, complements these characteristics in the ropes. We launched in June 2012 and felt so proud to breathe life into BOING.
How were the initial products developed, and what was the response?
We felt it was important to test the market by launching our own website and attend as many retail events as possible, just to see whether people loved our brand - we weren't disappointed. From there, we were approached by stores wishing to stock BOING, giving us the push to invest in trade events to grow our trade accounts. What challenges were overcome when the company was starting out? Our main challenge was making sure that we sourced everything from the UK and were able to cope with the higher costs that the UK demands. It was and still is a key part of the brand, something we are proud of and hope to grow.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Our distinctive benefits are that we fit into various stores, from jewellers to activity parks. We are unisex, offer a two-year guarantee and top British quality the list goes on!
How has the product offering changed over the years, and how would you describe your current collection?
We have seen that more stores are now looking for better-quality goods that aren't too pricey and for more male and sporty-looking products. While we can be a very male brand, we attract a strong female following - you just have to look at the colours of our ropes to see why. Two years ago, we moved into precious metals, silver, gold and PVD so that we can offer a broader price range. This has been a massive success with the bracelet clasps. We now have new rings and pendants that will give our customers something totally new this Christmas.
How often do you launch new lines, and what are your best-selling designs?
Tell me about your recent campaigns. Our rope and leather bracelets sell until the cows come home - they're by far our top of the pops! Our new Rope Drop pendant has just been launched and at this year's IJL we will be introducing a new Rock collection, which is exciting!
What trade shows do you attend and which ones work best for you?
Boy, this is a tough one to talk about; we have seen such a decline in footfall at all trade events over the past couple of years. I think this year is going to be the hardest yet. We do Spring Fair at the NEC and IJL every year. However, we have been seen at many others. If they weren't so expensive, we would do loads more because we do well as long as people attend.
When was the website launched, and how does it support the business?
Launched in June 2012, it's an equal to our trade business. This is how we started and can best promote our stockists via the site and social media. We have an amazing team who work on getting the brand known.
What have been the key milestones in the business?
There have been so many - our journey has been so much fun and so rewarding. I like to think that we make milestones every year.
How do you view the current market, and what trends - in both product and business - do you see emerging over the current months?
We are finding the market better than ever. We have the right product at the right price. We don't scream from the rooftops about our strengths. As a result, our growth is organic. More jewellers are looking at more affordable jewellery and gifts, and gift shops are introducing higherquality products, which is great for BOING as we cover both.
What are your future plans for the business?
We will keep designing new products and grow our overseas markets along with remaining focused on what works in the UK. It will be important that we continue to support stockists in this wobbly market. After all, that's what the Brits do - they pull together when it gets tough!
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