By Tabinda Sial
An interest in making her own “Basketball Wives earrings” five years ago turned this small vision into a successful, growing company today. Harper Ray Accessories is an urban accessory company that was founded in October of 2012 by Gillian Bradley. Gillian is a student at Michigan State University majoring in packaging. Harper Ray Accessories has been getting much buzz and business from its custom jewelry lately. Here are 7 things you must know about the company that might have you dropping a couple of items in your shopping cart after visiting shopharperray.com, I definitely did!
1. Where did the name ‘Harper Ray’ come from?
“My Pop-Pop’s (grandfather’s) name was James Harper. He was my hero growing up. He passed when I was six years old so of course when I started thinking of names, honoring him was on the top of the list. As far as the “Ray,” I used my cousin’s address to go to a better high school and he has 3 kids. I practically lived with them throughout those 4 high school years so his children sort of became like my kids! Their names are Gabrielle, Madison, & Wayne. R-A-Y is the second, third, and fourth letters of their names.”
2. How was Harper Ray started?
“I’ve always been super crafty, but here’s the story…It started back when the “Basketball Wives Earrings” were hot around 2011 (if I’m not mistaken). Remember those hoop earrings with the crystal balls on them? Well I wanted a pair and I knew my boyfriend’s (at the time) sister knew where to get them so I asked her. She said, “Girl don’t buy them from anyone! You can make them yourself,” and she told me where to get the supplies from. This store was every crafter’s dream, it had everything you could ever imagine. Needless to say, I ended up buying more than just the basketball wives earring supplies. I started trying things out and making things for myself. I would wear it to school and my classmates would ask me where I got it. So during my senior year in high school I was just selling to my classmates whenever someone asked for something. In October of 2012 I officially launched my website and entered the eCommerce world!”
3. What products are currently/will be offered?
“My newest product which seemed to create a bit of buzz are my Nike Glam Flip Flops. They are Nike flip flops for my ladies, decked out in rhinestones. I plan to offer more colors in those soon! Nameplate necklaces are a pretty hot commodity right now too. I think my favorite nameplate is the Harper Ray Signature Necklace/Bangle. You can turn your grandma’s signature or your business logo into a necklace or bangle. It’s a pretty dope keepsake.
I am launching a children’s collection called the RAY Kidz Kollection at an event next month.”
4. What challenges have you faced as a small business owner? What advice would you give young entrepreneurs?
“My rookie mistake was having waaaaaayyyyyy too much inventory. I would get excited when I got one sale and go crazy on supplies and end up wasting money in the end. My best advice would be: DO IT YOURSELF. At least try to do things yourself before you pay someone to do it. When I first launched my website I paid someone a lot of money to design and operate the site and that person, along with my website, disappeared in about a month. There are plenty of websites that let you open a store for minimal monthly fees. There are cheap business cards and social media promo online. Google is your friend!”
5. What are your goals for Harper Ray Accessories in the future?
“Right now, I just want to keep the steady upward pace that my business has going on. My biggest sales goal is consistency. Not that I want to quit my job, but by next summer I would like Harper Ray Accessories to at least put me in the position to do so. I want to touch more people. I love when I get emails, notifications, or pictures of customers saying how much they love their accessories. I just want to continue to run an honest business that makes people happy!”
6. If you could do a collaboration collection with any fashion designer who would it be? Why?
“Definitely Lorraine Schwartz. She designs the most glamorous jewelry, and if you know me, you know I love all things glitter, shimmer, and shine! I would love to soak up some of her knowledge and get some celebs wearing Harper Ray!”
7. Where can we buy Harper Ray? Any upcoming events?
“WWW.SHOPHARPERRAY.COM is where you meet me at! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any custom requests. If you don’t like online shopping or need something last minute I also have a few of my accessories in Egosummore Boutique (@shopegosummore) which is located at 8960 W. 9 Mile Road Oak Park, MI 48237. I have two events coming up. First on my calendar is a pop-up shop on July 10th where I will launch the RAY Kidz Kollection. Later on this year I will be apart of “Small Biz Saturday” in Detroit, MI. Check my Instagram (@harperrayaccessories) for all the details on both events!”