Written on the 8 January 2016


FROM a $900 loan from the bank of mum and dad and a humble stall to a network of retail stores and ambitions to list on the ASX, one serial entrepreneur has found her shine.

After leaving school at 14 years old, Hayley Birtles-Eades embarked on the road to entrepreneurship and started several ventures, including denim bags, cage fighting management, clothing label and baby products.

She hit her stride in 2012 with the launch of Love Lockets, which allows customers to personalise jewellery by filling pendants with a mix of gems, charms and crystals.

The Brisbane-based business notched $32,000 during the three weeks leading up to Christmas selling from a trestle table in a shopping centre.

Love Lockets has since doubled turnover year-on-year and forecasts $2.8 million in revenue this financial year.

"I left school at 14 with a vision to create and innovate, and while I had no idea what I was doing then, I knew I would succeed as I had a passion to see something grow into the next big thing," Birtles-Eades says.

"When I first came across the concept of love lockets, I was looking for my next project and I couldn't get these floating lockets out of my head."

Love Lockets has expanded to a team of 40 staff across Mt Ommaney, Paddington, North Lakes, Logan, Chermside, as well as Kotara in Newcastle and Highpoint in Victoria. A number of national partners also stock the brand, with a presence in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Bucking the trend towards e-commerce, Birtles-Eades says bricks-and-mortar remains a top priority with 95 per cent of sales coming from retail and wholesale.

"People are unable to tell their stories online before purchasing," she says.

"Everything we do in life is built around emotions and we epitomise that.

"Whether you are wearing your story through the charms in your locket or wearing our Inspi{ring} with a statement you live by, as a nation we are wearing our hearts on our sleeves, or in this case in our jewellery."

Love Lockets recently teamed up with global jewellery giant Swarovski, in a world-first contract. As a partner, the business has secured exclusive rights to use Swarovski stardust in its products.

Birtles-Eades says the deal was a major coup for the team, with no other jewellery company in the world using this particular element.

"The Swarovski partnership is firmly accelerating the gap between us and our competitors and well and truly positioning us at the top of the industry," she says.

"I have my ambitions and drive but with our new stardust product about to take off. I am envisaging huge things for us as we enter into our fourth year."

Birtles-Eades says Love Lockets plans to add more retail stores to its portfolio this year, then float on the ASX next year.

Love Lockets is finalising talks with an undisclosed major organisation to stock its products, with a $1.3 million deal expected to be announced next month. The business is also exploring offshore opportunities in Japan and New York.

"I believe in love and wanted to share this with as many people as possible," Birtles-Eades says.

"I think the very nature of storytelling and capturing moments is what resonates with people and this is why this business has taken off and continues to be so successful."







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