The Finest Accessories is a designer hair and fashion accessory business with a classic story of American entrepreneurship: from a garage-based home business, to a successful company with products on the shelves of the most popular department stores.
For many of us, it can take a lifetime to realize our passions. For Laurie Erickson, the answer was always obvious, though the path was not always clear. She combined her passion for hair accessories with her admiration of French manufacturing to create a whole new line of hair accessories, a collection that now includes thousands of unique pieces.
Before passion had been built into success, The Finest Accessories began its life humbly in a Washington state garage. In the early 1990s, after 10 years in the scrunchie business, Laurie sold the company she had started and stepped away to pursue another passion: being a full-time stay-at-home mom. She stayed at home for 18 months, and then — replete with months’ worth of new ideas — she returned to the fashion industry to meet a host of design capabilities she felt were as of then unmet in America.
Laurie designed a collection and took it to Nordstrom. “It was very intimidating. I didn’t have any money. I rented the cheapest rental car I could get,” she says. “I remember sitting at Tyson’s Corner in D.C. and reading positive affirmations.” She ultimately met with one of the fashion accessory buyers, and Nordstrom gave her a chance.
A Successful Brand
Since that day, The Finest Accessories has continued to grow its collection to include everything from hair ties to phone cases, all created to the same high quality standards the company is known for. The Finest Accessories is on a constant mission to live up to its name. “When we conceive of a new piece, we seek out the people with the greatest expertise in the field and collaborate with them from inception to production,” Laurie explains. “Our Italian bandeaus are hand-crafted in Italy because we found the perfect knit expertise. Similarly, many of our jewelry items are made in Germany because we sought out a producer renowned for their delicate use of Swarovski® crystals.”
The Finest Accessories prides itself on the strong, longstanding relationships it has built not only with its producers but also with its colleagues throughout the beauty and fashion industries. “Getting our pieces onto the shelves of the best department stores, the ones we love to shop at ourselves, has been a major accomplishment for us.”
A Timely Redesign
However, the challenges didn’t end there. The Finest Accessories went online in 2005. “It was a very, very slow process,” Laurie remembers. Breaking into eCommerce was a great achievement, but then the time came for a sleek new site design — not just for looks, but to meet the modern standards of the web. Having built a longstanding relationship with Shift4Shop, it felt natural for The Finest Accessories to turn to Shift4Shop for the redesign. “They were at the forefront of our minds when it came time for a site upgrade,” says Wendy Jensen, The Finest Accessories eCommerce Strategy Director.
Aware that some of the most vital improvements are entirely on the back-end, The Finest Accessories had an interest in the technical aspects of Shift4Shop’s development process. “Using Shift4Shop’s emerging code standard created a more robust solution for our site as we transitioned from separate desktop and mobile sites to a single, optimized, responsive web design,” Wendy explains.
They chose the Professional Design Package, and Shift4Shop’s designers got to work. “The design process is always a challenge, as there is a lot of back and forth,” Wendy says. “We liked that we were able to brainstorm together and think of creative solutions to any issues that we ran into during the process. The team worked hard to make sure that our site met our business needs and expectations. They were responsive to our requirements and willing to adapt their design to meet [them].”
The Finest Accessories was more than pleased with their new, improved website. “In the end, we were impressed with the results,” Wendy reports. “The designers incorporated our feedback along with the look and feel of our brand. We like the consistency, how the look and feel are the same throughout the different pages, as well as the little details, such as the integration of gold — one of our brand colors. The process resulted in a beautiful site and more importantly an elevated shopping experience for our customers. Compared to our initial process going online more than 10 years ago, this redesign process was swift.”
Since the redesign was completed, The Finest Accessories has seen a 32% increase in conversions as well as a 17% increase in traffic. “We are eager to show off our updated site and branding,” Wendy says.
Since the early days in Laurie Erickson’s garage to their brand new optimized online store, The Finest Accessories has gone through an adventure to get to where it is today. The company continues to live up to its name, and Shift4Shop is proud to count them among our clients.
As for a new business owner breaking into eCommerce, Laurie has the following advice. “Learn from the philosophy of the tortoise and the hare: I’m much more satisfied with slow and deliberate results, because I find them much more stable… and never give up.”