Hannah Vasicek abandoned her plans for a legal career to establish Francesca Collections. Here she explains how she scaled up from a market stall to popular retail stores in Hobart and Melbourne.
By age 13, Hannah Vasicek was already an entrepreneur. Spotting a gap in the market on her long commute to school, she bought lollies wholesale to sell to other students. “I saw an opportunity. I thought, ‘There are a lot of kids here who are hungry,'” she explains.
At 16, having relocated to Tasmania from NSW, Vasicek began making jewellery and selling it at Hobart’s Salamanca Markets. While it was a good earner, Vasicek planned a more conventional career path. Then, in the last year of her Arts/Law degree, something happened that changed her law career plans. “I never thought I could do my jewellery business as a career,” she says. “But when I was finishing up my degree, I won a Global Student Entrepreneur Award. It gave me the idea that I could.”
“We started building customer rapport and created this beautiful community and word-of-mouth started spreading.”
Made in Tasmania
Vasicek opened jewellery store Francesca Collections on the outskirts of Hobart in 2013. “I’m so thankful for being in Tasmania,” she says. “My first store was $400 a week for a shop with a studio upstairs. In any other major city that would be so much more expensive.” Within six months she had hired her first employee. “We started building customer rapport and created this beautiful community and word-of-mouth started spreading. In our first year, demand outstripped supply. We were running upstairs to get a piece of jewellery to put out,” Vasicek recalls.
The business was soon doing well enough to justify a move to bigger premises in Hobart’s CBD and taking on more staff. Although initially knocked back for the business loan she needed for the $75,000 per annum rent (“My bank manager was so passionate about what we were doing that she called the highest person that she could to get our loan approved”), Vasicek had no qualms about scaling up, despite the costs involved. Her gamble paid off. “From the day we opened [at the new premises], we quadrupled revenue,” she says.