From a dream at her kitchen table to a $15 million jewelry powerhouse, Hillberg & Berk’s founder and CEO Rachel Mielke is no stranger to success or hard work. After an appearance on CBC’s Dragons’ Den that propelled her brand to unimaginable heights, Mielke’s worth ethic still remains the same. Not only does she ensure that every piece of Hillberg & Berk jewelry is made and designed north of the border, Mielke is also determined to share the success of her company with women across the globe through a variety of charitable initiatives. We sat down with the do-it-all mother and entrepreneur to talk dreams, goals and reality.
- What inspired you to create Hillberg & Berk?
From a young age I always knew I would run my own company – and once I realized my love for making jewelry everything fell into place. That being said, it was never enough for me to just run a business, I wanted it to make an impact on the world and leave it a better place. When I started Hillberg & Berk I had a vision for leading a company that would as successful as it was in creating social change as it was profitable.
- Where do you draw your inspiration from?
The team draws inspiration from all different angles. Of course we look to fashion and current trends, but we also pay close attention to the women who wear our jewelry. What are they drawn to? What are they most likely to pair the jewelry with? We love combining what the largest fashion brands in the world are doing, with what we actually see our customers wearing and wanting to wear.
- What has been your biggest accomplishment so far? Or obstacle that you’ve had to overcome?
I’d have to say that the biggest accomplishment was being commissioned to design a piece of jewelry for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and then seeing her wear that piece four times. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experience.
- How do you find your own work/life balance?
Right now I have a three-week old baby so it’s a bit chaotic, but normally I find work/life to be more of a fusion than a balance. Balance implies everything is equal, and when you have a family and a business that’s not possible or realistic. It’s important to look for ways to make your family work into your business and business work into family life – there isn’t really a separation.
- Donating more than 500,000 dollars in cash and product to women-focused charities around the world, why is it so important for you to give back?
When I started Hillberg & Berk I wanted the success of the company to have an impact on our world. I have always been passionate about empowering women and strongly believe that empowering women locally and globally can change the world. I want the women who purchase our product to do so because it makes them feel beautiful, but also because they feel good knowing we are driving social change through the success of our company.
- Do you have any advice for aspiring #CREATORS?
Starting your own company can be overwhelming but if you truly want to do it, don’t let anything stop you. You really can have it all if you are focused and committed.