Harriet Gilpin (also known as Hattie) always dreamed of running her own business.
After earning a degree in parks, recreation and tourism management at Clemson University in 2015, Hattie was working for a boutique hotel company in New York when she realized the time to pursue that dream was now.
“Although I liked my job, I realized that the best time for me to pursue my dream of going into business for myself was before I got too settled into a relationship or wanted to start a family,” she says. “Starting a business when I did freed me to focus entirely on my work without competing pressures and priorities.”
Flash forward a few months, and Hattie’s walking dogs by day and crafting high quality jewelry in her apartment by night.
“I look back on them now as some of the best days of my life so far, but I would wake up to walk my first dog at 7 am and get back to my shoebox apartment 12 hours later to start making jewelry,” she says. “Half the time I would fall asleep doing it and wake up with little pieces of jewelry and supplies stuck to my face.”
When Hattie reached the limits of what she could accomplish on her own, she reached out to a local jeweler for advice. In exchange for social media and website support, the jeweler became a mentor to Hattie, showing her the ins and outs of the jewelry industry.
“Working with her played a big role in my success,” she says. “She gave me the tools I needed to be successful, and I was able to help her with her business as well, so it was a win-win.”
Hattie’s small, home-based business is now an elevated jewelry line in New York City called Hattie Banks, which creates sophisticated pieces that quickly became favorites among celebrities and social media influencers. Her pieces are based on her childhood memories riding horses and on the beach, and are built to withstand daily wear.
Hattie says that her experience as a Clemson PRTM student taught her the importance of being a team player, and that she now looks for that quality in her employees.
“The Clemson PRTM program let us make mistakes, and then they guided us through fixing them,” she says. “Now when I hire someone new, I need to be sure they’re comfortable working in an environment that gives them the freedom to make mistakes, because that’s the only way we’ll get bigger and better.”
She also now focuses on paying it forward, by providing similar mentorship to other women starting their own businesses.
“If someone didn’t help me, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she says. “I find it really important to give back. You have to.”