‘I never intended to start a jewellery brand, I was more interested in the craft of making adornment, after studying it at university (COFA)’ starts Elke Kramer, Creative Director at Studio Elke, an object design studio that works across jewellery, furniture, interior objects and interior design. ‘It was only when I had made a collection of pendants for a friend’s fashion show for Sydney Fashion Week 2007, that buyers saw the pieces and wanted to place orders. After that, the brand formed very organically and I had to learn on my feet — as demand grew — in order to find manufacturers, deliver orders and develop systems that supported its growth.’
One of those systems was a developing a website within which orders could be made, and new collections shown. In 2010, the first website was built, using WordPress. ‘It had kooky Flash-animated chains cascading and a creepy circus soundtrack!’ laughs Elke, ‘It had no eCommerce component, it was not responsive at all and quickly became redundant’. After numerous tweaks, the team built a new site in 2015, enabling a stronger content management system that enabled easy amends and that could best utilise the wealth of strong visual content the brand had amassed from its catalogues and PR needs. This year, team Elke, which includes Managing Director, Kate Hurst, are set to launch a new site that will do even more to meet the needs of eCommerce customers. ‘We are in the process of launching a new, completely custom built site, as we’re needing to adapt to changes in technology and the way customers interact with online shopping’ says Elke. ‘We’re also expanding our online offering and focusing on vertical sales, so it’s the right time to invest deeper in our online presence.’
Although Elke admits than when she started out back in 2007, her understanding of online retail was ‘literally ZERO’ she has been able to sustain a business, predominantly online, for more than a decade. This, she says, is down to analytics.
‘To be honest, setting up and running an online store is not rocket science. What is more challenging is being able to generate reports and analyse numbers, in order to maximise sales and get the most out of the store’.
Studio Elke’s Managing Director, Kate Hurst, agrees, and has ensured the online store is built on a CMS system which has a user-friendly reporting system. ‘I guess before I came on board in 2015, the team was so small that there just wasn’t the time available to spend reviewing numbers. I have it made it the core part of my management approach to make as many decisions as possible based on numbers, rather than gut feeling alone’ she says. This means setting clear sales and traffic targets, which are regularly measured. ‘Elke and I review the findings and present the results to our team at weekly meetings. This way everyone knows where things are at and, if it looks like we aren’t on track to hit our targets, we can make decisions to get us back on the right path’.
Analytics for Studio Elke aren’t just about sales though. Internally, the team are also analysing where their time is being spent. ‘We have just implemented a project management time tracking software…It’s been such an eye opener for us all!’ says Kate. ‘As much as we would like to be spending the majority of time designing collections or creating compelling visuals, the reality is that about 70% of our time is spent on business admin. Now that we can see this clearly, we’re taking steps to streamline the admin process so we can all be doing more creative work’.
It’s this ability to adapt that has helped Elke and her team succeed in a competitive landscape. If giving advice to her younger self, Elke suggests, ‘Everything shifts, so be adaptable and reserve energy to keep evolving’. And while Kate admits that, ‘choosing to allocate time to review the analytics of the business on a regular basis is the best investment we have made’, she also stresses that when running a creative business, leaving room to experiment and test boundaries is equally as important. ‘While we do use analytics to inform our design process, we always counterbalance this by designing from a purely creative place too, and ensuring the products are also new, innovative and have a strong visual narrative.’ That visual narrative will soon take the form of a new ollaboration with Brintons Carpets, and a future Studio Elke flagship store !
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