A few weeks ago the Recipe for Press team had the chance to visit Susan Hable Smith at her Athens studio — a cozy 1918 mill village house with inspiration in every corner. Susan, who co-founded the celebrated textiles company, Hable Construction, encouraged us to wander around her workspace (and allowed us to photograph some of the hand-drawn prints and new patterns in the making!) She also took the time to share her story, which included important lessons she’s learned over the years as an entrepreneur.
By PR intern, Alex Laughlin
Images by graphic design interns, Abby Wilhelm and Brittany Robertson
When you realize you don’t love what you’re doing — STOP!
A year or so into their startup, Susan came clean with her business partner (and sister) Katharine, that she wasn’t crazy about wearing the scarves they were selling. “We decided, on the spot, to move on in a different product direction, which is the beauty of running your own show!” says Susan. Today, Hable Construction is best known for creating artfully distinctive and utilitarian products for everyday living. Susan’s advice: if you notice your ambitions taking you in a different direction, follow them! Passion is essential to keeping business alive.
Great press can be a real engine starter for a growing brand like Hable Construction. “Recognition by industry influencers has even lead to licensing opportunities with some venerable brands, like Garnet Hill and Barney’s,” says Susan. “But constant media attention could also dilute your brand.” Be thoughtful in crafting your message and reach out to publications that are a great fit to your company, rather than pitching every editor on the planet. Use media lulls to improve your products or product photography so each time you reappear you have something new to share.
Like most entrepreneurs, Susan’s business was affected by the recession. The sisters kept Hable Construction alive by recommitting to their craft and restructuring their company to meet the changing business landscape. Susan traded a pricey New York storefront for a sunlit backyard studio, allowing her to be closer to some of her clients and more involved in the day-to-day of her two children. Win-win!