Meet Tim and Daniel Joo: brothers, entrepreneurs, and co-founders of Haerfest, a leather accessories and lifestyle brand based in NYC. Their mission? To equip and inspire visionary professionals with exceptional objects that are simultaneously useful and attractive. The Haerfest team believes that good design can lead to a greater (and smarter) work-life balance—a philosophy that won them the Design Entrepreneurs NYC Class of 2016 by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Perfectionists by nature, they wanted to convey their principles of aesthetic, essence, and utility in a short ad—and that’s where Fiverr comes in. Check out the Haerfest video and interview below to learn more about Tim and Daniel’s business journey. Then stay tuned all week on Instagram to see their entrepreneurial vision in motion!
Tell us a little about yourselves. Who you are, where you’re from, what you do.
(TIM) Dan and I are co-founders of Haerfest (pronounced “harvest”), a modern accessories brand based in NYC. Dan comes from an engineering/tech background having worked at IBM. I come from a fashion background having studied at FIT and Parsons and worked at Opening Ceremony. Haerfest started with a vision of using our talents to provide value in each others industry at time when fashion and tech started coming together. It started with a backpack tailored for the digital nomad and has grown to a full line of modern accessories for visionaries in motion. It’s obvious now how tech and fashion are a harmonious fusion by seeing successful digitally native brands like Warby Parker or Everlane, and Haerfest does the same by focusing on bags for the modern professional.
Tell us about the origins of your brand, Haerfest. What is the story behind the name? What is your mission?
Our mission is to equip & inspire visionaries in motion.
The name originates from the old English word for harvest; symbolizing the fruits of hard work, planning, perseverance, and patience. It’s a labor of love.
When Haerfest started 7 years ago, there was a booming growth of entrepreneurs, and workwear was evolving from the traditional suit and tie to an elevated/versatile business casual look. Being a part of this movement, we were also looking to upgrade our work bag from Eastpak / JanSport backpacks worn during our school days to something more tailored we could seamlessly carry throughout the day.
At the time, most backpacks available in the market were either academic or sporty in design. From this need came the opportunity to create a tailored backpack that was not only functional but stylish, something that could seamlessly transition from day to night. We saw an opportunity to rebrand the backpack by transforming a bag style once perceived to be used for school/hiking into a staple accessory that married aesthetically pleasing form with utilitarian function.
What sets Haerfest apart from other lifestyle and bag brands?
Other brands sell bags. Haerfest inspires visionaries and equips them with bags.
In regards to design, we are inspired by minimalist art in the 1960’s in NYC. The movement is rooted in universally understood principles of form, balance, proportion, color, and texture. We aim to combine the aesthetically-pleasing minimal design on the outside, yet the inside being very functional for your everyday needs. We believe that good design leads to a good work-life balance.
Our signature design detail is the Ring and Stud, making our bags both unique and functional. The single strap system is held together by a ring and stud system, functioning to provide freedom of movement.
“Less but better,” is always an underlying ethos for Haerfest. What we mean by that is, we live in a culture of disposable fashion with the continuous growth of ‘fast-fashion.’ We believe that if you buy with the mindset of looking for quality, timeless design, and functionality, the things you buy will last longer – meaning less waste.
What drives you two as entrepreneurs? Why do you do what you do?
We’re inspired by our customers and their stories. We like to say they are “Visionaries in Motion.” They are creative problem solvers who take action. They have clarity of purpose and the persistence to follow through. They share compelling stories and inspire others in their community. Mobility is a key component to creating seamless work/life integration. They’re equipped with a phone, laptop, and bag, enabling freedom of movement to explore and discover new opportunities.
Most people may know us for our backpacks, but as that style became a trend, we questioned if we wanted to just limit ourselves to a backpack company. It made us really go back to focusing on that first customer, who was this professional that was living that mobile lifestyle. As we’ve made this pivot to making our customer the focus of our business, our motivation comes from the incredible journeys of our community.
How do you use Fiverr as a business? What do you use it for? Why do you like working with freelancers?
Finding a high level of execution from entry-level candidates is extremely hard to come by. As an emerging brand, working with professional freelancers who specialize in a specific niche allow for us to DO new things at a low-risk cost.
If you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t know where to start, Fiverr is definitely a great place to start. Whether you’re starting with the $5 or $5000, they give you a lot of great options. The professionals on the platform work within your budget so you don’t have to feel like you’re stretching too far out of your wallet.
Why did you need a Short Video Ad? Walk us through the buying process, from idea to finished product.
Haerfest is commonly misspelled Hearfest, Hearvest, Harfest, Herfest, Hayerfest, etc.
And, it’s mispronounced just as often. Once we express this mistake is okay, what then stands out are aesthetically-pleasing products that are both smart and attractive.
So for us, we know people won’t be sure how to say Haerfest, but we are sure what Haerfest stands for – premium quality beautifully designed bags (seen throughout the visuals).
What advice would you like to give entrepreneurs just setting out on your business journey?
- Find Mentors – Surround yourself with people with relevant experience you share your ideas with, get feedback.
- Stay Community Centered – It’s not good to stay in your own bubble. Surround yourself with like-minded people to share information with. You may find that people may have the same problems just at a different scale
- Be Purpose-Driven -Stand for something. At any point you may get lost, it’s always great to fall back on the ‘why’
- Work / Life Integration – The 9-5 work hours is not that of an entrepreneur. Most of the time you’re always thinking about the business. Try to incorporate things you enjoy that give you peace to avoid burnout
What advice would you give to first-time buyers on Fiverr?
Look around, ask questions. Engage! Know that Fiverr Pro will help you get the talent you need to help execute.
What’s next for the brand? Any goals for 2018?
Our number one priority for this year is making strategic partnerships.
The landscape for retail has changed and people are purchasing and discovering brands in new ways. Inundated with product choices, we’re now empowered to make meaningful purchases from brands directly and Haerfest has made it a priority to driven by our mission and our community.
Haerfest has set focus for strategic partnerships in four key categories: TRAVEL, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, and COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS. We don’t want to limit ourselves to just selling to the coolest boutique or dept store. We see so much opportunity when we can look outside those parameters. We need to be more proactive and meet our customers where they are at.
What do you want to know about Haerfest? Ask Tim and Daniel in the questions below!