Have you ever wondered how the power of branding can affect the cost of luxury items? Or why do certain items cost so much when the materials to make them seem to be readily available? How is it possible for the average woman to look and feel her best in high-end pieces without breaking the bank? Today, we’re discussing the topic of Foreign Exchange Rates.
In this episode, I’m joined by business owner and friend, Nicola Harlem, a South Korean-born, Australian-raised, now Norwegian-based business owner and designer. Her brand, The Curated, is a carefully sourced collection of timeless, high-quality staples that all style together with a seamless, Scandinavian look. She focuses on sustainable luxury and minimal elegance for women.
Nicola is also a friend – someone who has inspired me through my own small business career. I’m so happy for her to join me as she gives us a behind the scenes look into her career, The Curated, and how she navigates leading a truly global brand in today’s world. The featured finance term in this episode is Foreign Exchange Rates and the reality of engaging in the global supply chain at a time of unprecedented fluctuation and change.
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While living in China, Nicola developed a passion for branding and a fascination with the gap between the customer and the factory in retail. After moving to Scandinavia and scouring the shops for a luxury coat, she began to wonder what factors drove the cost of certain items up when there was such a high abundance of cashmere in China.
After much research, she discovered that branding was a major factor when it comes to purchase price. This often hinders women from being able to afford the typical high-fashion items.
Growing up, Nicola admits she disliked what luxury fashion stood for and how it often created privilege and discrimination. With this in mind, she made it her mission to figure out a way to make high-end fashion accessible to the average woman.
While Nicola feels she has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, The Curated initially began as a pregnancy project. Despite her low expectations in the beginning, she has built her company into an impressive global success.
Nicola’s first piece for The Curated was The Classic Coat, a favorite of many women and a piece I personally have worn for years. After moving to Norway, Nicola wanted to invest in a luxury coat and couldn’t find something in her price range that fit her needs.
After talking with different Chinese factories, she came to the realization that these items were investment pieces that every woman needed and should have access to.
As she adds more collections to her company, she is very conscious to not oversaturate the market. She picks items that her customers want and products that are hard to find at an acceptable price point.
Nicola has proactively created an open and honest dialogue with her customers. Women are encouraged to upload photos with their weight and measurements to the website after they make a purchase. This helps better explain how the clothes fit and allows future customers to make more informed decisions on sizing and fit prior to purchases. This is how The Curated is doing its part to reduce the carbon footprint, due to unnecessary shipping and returns.
As influencer marketing becomes more saturated, it makes navigating digital marketing a challenge. Nicola says it is humbling and overwhelming to see women all over the world sharing their experiences with The Curated on social media and beyond.
Nicola admits that post-pandemic was a tough time. She found it hard to stay motivated, but with the support of her husband, she made it through. Her three boys are her inspiration to work hard as she shows them that mom is the boss. She also keeps her stress levels down by getting outdoors to run and hike every day, which she calls her therapy.
Her husband also plays a role in helping with pricing and navigating the exchange rate when it comes to running a global business.
Her biggest challenge is not being able to be in all places at once. With a retail store in Australia and living on the other side of the world, communication is extremely important. She is sure to be open and honest with her team and potential employees about the challenges that come with a business that is not yet fully established.
The best advice she has for others who are interested in small business is to do your research, listen to podcasts and learn from others. She also says you need to trust your gut and be careful who you take advice from. Everyone has a different journey, so you need to learn for yourself and your own business.
What questions do you have about foreign exchange rates or about this episode? Let me know below!