It was a childhood dream of Julian Gravesande to always have her own business and by launching a unique handbag and jewelry company called House of Moruka, she finally fulfilled it. I started House of Moruka because I always wanted to have my own business and I have an obsession with handbags. When I was a child, my grandmother taught me how to hand-sew and when I was eight years old she told me I could have my own business one day. That stayed at the forefront of my mind ever since then, so back in 2010 I bought my first sewing machine off Craigslist to learn how to sew clothing. I discovered that I was great at making bags and that’s when it clicked. It was the right time in my life to pursue what I had always wanted to do, explains Gravesande.
I’ve been bootstrapping for the most part. Every time I sell, I put some of the money back into the business. It would be to buy ads, supplies and pay my selling platform fees. I’ve also had some contributions from family but have never taken out any loans, she adds.
NY-based House of Moruka products are sold online at House Moruka .com as well as at one-day boutique trunk shows.
Even though starting a business was always a dream, it doesnt mean it was easy. Gravesande had to teach herself the entrepreneurial ropes. When I started out, I knew nothing about business so I took classes at NYC Business Solutions and Harlem Business Alliance to get started. Also, I knew nothing about the fashion industry, so I took internships at different fashion companies dabbling in everything from public relations to e-commerce to production. I still continue to do internships and find that interning with small companies is very beneficial because you get to see everything happen as opposed to being in one department of a large company, says Gravesande, who wants to expand beyond handbags and jewelry to include a fashion and lifestyle brand.
She continues, Other things I had challenges with were sales, branding, and building an email list, so I learned about these through hiring a coach and joining Facebook support groups. Ive learned that business is not easy no matter how business owners make it look. What you see on social media and websites is the result of countless, sleepless hours of photography, videography, editing and creating but we do it because we love it.
Gravesande is happy she took the step to entrepreneurship. What I like most about what I do is I get to create things that I love that are equally loved by other women. Whenever I see a photo of a customer wearing a House of Moruka clutch or doing an unboxing, I get goosebumps because they’re excited and I’m adding to their happiness, she says.