The Double Brand-Builder
How SG's Hannah Williams leverages her PR and marketing expertise to craft her own brand's story.
Many of the clients SG Account Supervisor Hannah Williams works with are looking to build and grow their brands. And while Hannah has spent much of her four-plus years at SG helping young companies do just that, the work is especially personal to her.
That’s because she and her sister, Olivia Williams, are working to build their own brand. In June 2022, they started Hanoli Designs, which sells earrings and other accessories both online and in markets in their native South Carolina.
From this work, Hannah has a keen understanding of the personal stake founders take in their companies every day. Even the name of their business strikes a personal tone, conjuring up memories of their aunt’s voice, who named the sisters “Hanoli” (Hannah and Olivia) growing up.
Hanoli Designs’ story is a classic tale of siblings bonding over a shared interest. Like many older siblings, Hannah decidedly feels her younger sister is cooler than her. And one of the ways that manifested itself was in Olivia’s fashion sense.
“She’s always wearing multiple necklaces and rings, and she always has her earrings in,” Hannah said. “I feel like it makes her look more put together and completes her outfits. She always does that.”
In envy, Hannah wanted to do the same, especially while on vacation.
“When I travel, I want to look my best,” Hannah said. “I’m not gonna travel and wear my running pants every day, or anything like that, so that’s when I wear my coolest outfits.”
Hannah and her sister took a liking to buying earrings on vacation. But as the cost became prohibitive, the sisters started making their own earrings instead. Because their designs were meant to be worn on vacation, to go with their coolest outfits, most fit into the umbrella of what Hannah calls “statement jewelry.” Peruse Hanoli Designs’ inventory today, and much of it still fits into the category.
Hannah and Olivia enjoyed producing earrings so much that they started crafting designs for family and friends. And when they received positive feedback on their earrings, the sisters decided it was time to take the next step and start selling them. “We were giving a lot of our jewelry to one of my best friends, and she was getting a ton of compliments on them,” Hannah said. “People were asking her where she bought them. I think that was one of the things that pushed us over, and we go to markets all the time, so we figured, ‘let’s just try this and see what happens.’” A look at the sisters’ early division of labor reveals that this wasn’t simply a shot in the dark, however. Olivia would do the physical work of designing and making the earrings. Meanwhile, Hannah, already a seasoned PR professional, took on the marketing work. It would be up to her to decide which markets they’d sell their products at and to promote their brand on social media. Hanoli Designs launched on Instagram, a decision Hannah made mostly because they’d be joining a space already flush with earring designers with large followings. Seeing the success of those designers there, Hannah figured that she and her sister could do the same. In deciding which markets to apply for, and how many, Hannah essentially decides how to scale Hanoli Designs. Again, her experience shines brightly, as she’s taken a measured approach to this. A few days past its first anniversary, the sisters are set to sell their products at their 10th market in South Carolina. Larger markets across the country may be in Hanoli Designs’ future, but Hannah says it’s too soon. “There’s a million earring companies in the world, so we’re targeting more of the South Carolina market as we build,” Hannah said. “We’re starting small and trying to build from there. I’d love to eventually sell our earrings at a market like (New York City’s) Union Square, but I don’t think we’re ready for something like that today.”