REGINA, May 3 /CNW Telbec/ - Working from Regina, outside the fashion
mainstream, Rachel Mielke has propelled her Hillberg & Berk designer
jewellery brand firmly into the spotlight. Through high-profile
marketing initiatives such as having her designer pieces showcased at
the 2008 Academy Awards and appearing as a contestant on CBC-TV's Dragons' Den, she has built a national brand sought by international celebrities.
For her growing success, Rachel, 30, has been named Saskatchewan's
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) 2011 Young Entrepreneur Award
winner, and will be honoured tonight at a gala in Saskatoon. "I believe
that if you have a great product, understand marketing and keep on top
of the latest online trends, you can really be successful," says
Although she acknowledges that there are challenges to being "out of the
loop" of the Toronto-centred Canadian fashion industry, Rachel is
firmly committed to Saskatchewan. "It's a fantastic time to be here.
Our economy is strong. Our population is growing. Our infrastructure is
being developed. All kinds of new and exciting things are happening."
Off to a creative start
Rachel started her company in 2007, turning her high-school
jewellery-making hobby into a high-profile and lucrative business.
Hillberg & Berk is known for its handmade products made with sterling
silver, vermeil, semi-precious stones and Swarovski crystals that boast
multi-functional features, which make them stand out from the crowd.
It was after she had studied business that friends encouraged Rachel to
make a career selling her creations. "I went to a few sales and right
away noticed that the product sold really well and there was an
opportunity to start a company with it." Today, the jewellery is
available in boutiques, galleries and gift shops across Canada.
Through a connection with the Toronto Fashion Incubator, Rachel was
invited to provide jewellery for the 2008 Academy Award gift bags. Upon
her return from Los Angeles, she auditioned for Dragons' Den, which led to a venture capital investment from the show's W. Brett
Wilson. Building on this momentum, Rachel designed pieces for G20
Summit attendees and promoted a new line, Memento Mori, in conjunction
with Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair.
Rachel supports causes that help empower women though charitable
donations of time and products. One of the organizations to which
Hillberg & Berk contributes is Wings of Hope, dedicated to helping
breast cancer patients with day-to-day expenses.
"I always dreamed that this would be a big company," says Rachel, "and I
feel like right now I am taking Hillberg & Berk towards our goal of
becoming the number one in Canada's designer jewellery sector. Being
able to build a national fashion-industry brand from Saskatchewan makes
it that much better."
"Many people dream of taking their product to the Academy Awards or
going on Dragons' Den, but very few ever do it," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
"Rachel has had the courage to step out of her comfort zone to gain
heightened visibility for her brand. It has paid off in the form of
growing success for her company and a sense of individual
accomplishment for Rachel."
About BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards
Created by the Business Development Bank of Canada in 1988, the Young
Entrepreneur Awards pay tribute to successful Canadian entrepreneurs
between 19 and 35 years of age. YEA winners are recognized for their
business prowess, creativity, innovative spirit and community
involvement. The BDC 2011 Young Entrepreneur Awards are sponsored by
Deloitte, Cisco, BLG, Sage and The Globe and Mail.
Canada's business development bank, BDC puts entrepreneurs first. With
almost 1,900 employees and more than 100 business centres across the
country, BDC offers financing, venture capital and consulting services
to 29,000 small and medium sized companies. Their success is vital to
Canada's economic prosperity. www.bdc.ca
SOURCE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA
For further information:
Advisor, Media Relations
Business Development Bank of Canada
1-888-683-0485 (media room in Saskatoon)
Director, Public Relations
Business Development Bank of Canada