Hillberg & Berk, a Canadian women-owned jewelry brand, is celebrating its 16th anniversary this year, will be opening a new location next month, and has plans to double its footprint in the next five years.
“It has been exciting over the last 16 years, having retail stores for just over a decade now and the journey to continue to expand across the country has been incredibly exciting. The company started at my kitchen table making jewelry and when I discovered my passion for creating jewelry for myself and others. I was absolutely hooked on the process, making it, and sharing it with others and that is how Hillberg & Berk started,” says Rachel Mielke, the CEO of Hillberg & Berk.
Before the company started, Mielke said it was difficult to find good quality jewelry for a low price and was inspired to create high quality products at accessible prices, as having nice jewelry shouldn’t break the bank or be dull.
“Having started the company in the prairies and growing up there, I can really relate to wanting to find high quality products that are well made, but also priced well and priced fairly. We obsess over the quality of our jewlry and we make pieces that you can wear for different occasions and on a daily basis.”
Consumers can find a variety of products such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings. Mielke says consumers can wear many of the products in different ways as you can find earrings that are two sided, necklaces that you can customize, and consumers are given the chance to create personalized jewelry.
Hillberg and Berk’s products have been noticed nationally and globally as Mielke was asked by the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan to design a brooch for the late Queen Elizabeth and was commissioned a second time by the Government of Canada to create another brooch for her again, this time in honour of the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee.
Currently, Hillberg & Berk has 14 stores in Canada and this July, it will be opening its 15th store in Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, Ontario.
“We are excited to continue taking our brand across the country, and one of the ways we do that is by finding new spots for our presence in malls. So we have been talking to landlords and looking at different locations. We review the opportunities we get offered in malls in conjunction with our digital sales, we are looking forward to opening this July in Upper Canada Mall.”
Hillberg & Berk Story
Over the last three years, Hillberg & Berk has completed nine projects including new stores, renovations, and has rebranded the store under a new concept that was designed by Kaben Architecture and Design.
- South Centre Mall in Calgary – updated in March 2021
- Regina standalone Flagship store – renovated in Fall 2021
- Bower Place in Red Deer – new store location in Fall 2021
- Orchard Park in Kelowna – new and first store in British Columbia which opened in April 2022
- Market Mall in Calgary – moved its location within the mall and updated in July 2022
- Masionville in London, Ontario – new and first Ontario store location opened November 2022
- West Edmonton Mall – new kiosk concept, opened in April 2023
- Midtown, Saskatoon – moved locations in the mall and updated in Summer 2023
- Newmarket, Ontario – new location in Upper Canada Mall, opens in July 2023
Along with these projects, Mielke says there are two more store renovations which will also occur this summer: Centre Mall in Saskatoon and Southgate Mall in Edmonton.
New Concept Store
Mielke said the team had redesigned and rebranded the business and was ready to roll the new concept out, but then Covid hit. Knowing Canadians would return to stores, Mielke said she decided to push through the expansion plans and opened the first store under the new concept in March 2021 in Calgary.
“When I started the company 16 years ago, the aesthetic of the brand was black and white, it felt very classic and strong. As we have evolved, we wanted to bring something that was fresh, engaging and inspiring to our store. We are a brand that is about supporting and uplifting our customers, which is primarily women across the country and we wanted to create and design a store that was reflective of a space that felt exciting, inviting, and beautiful.”
The new concept has clay over the majority of the store space, custom fixturing with woodworking detail, lighting is bright and welcoming, and has a new palette of different shades of pinks and corals.Unlike traditional jewelry stores, Hillberg & Berk does not place jewelry behind glass as the brand wants consumers to be able to interact with products.
“Most products are in the open and we encourage customers to interact with the product, to try it on, to have fun, we have tried to remove the intimidation of walking into a jewelry store. We want to create an experience that is very welcoming and let our customers just have fun with the products and really interact with the jewelry.”
“Great Loyalty Program”
Mielke says the brand won the RCC award for digital experience and especially for its loyalty program which was lauded last year through Covid. Hillberg & Berk’s web presence increased during the last three years and has allowed them to maintain their e-commerce platform and its new loyalty program.
“Customers will find our online experience easy to use and they can really see the product well online. You can get to know more about the brand online, and we are also thrilled that we won this award specifically focused on our loyalty program, which we were excited that in the first year, we were able to sign up 61,000 customers.”
Mielke says the loyalty program is easy to use, can accumulate points quickly and can see rewards quickly – all things needed for a brand’s loyalty program to succeed. Mielke says consumers get points with every purchase, but you don’t need to purchase to get points.
“We also give out points for doing things like reading our blog because our blog really features incredible people in our community. We love when customers read our blog and get to know our brand and the people we are featuring. Customers can also get points by signing up for our newsletter, so it just helps our customers be able to accumulate points quickly and be able to redeem them.”
This years’ expansion plans include opening a Upper Canada Mall location and two renovations; however, Mielke anticipates the brand will double it’s foot print within the next five years.
As for locations, Mielke says as they have a good retail presence in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta – she would like to expand further into Ontario and British Columbia over the next five years as she sees a lot of growth opportunities. Mielke says she is always open to what locations might work well for the brand and takes it deal by deal.
As the brand continues to grow, donating to charities has always been a priority. Mielke says the brand gives 20 percent of its profits back to organizations that “support, uplift, and empower women.” Over the course of 16 years, Mielke says they have donated over 10 million in cash and product to different charities and organizations. The brand has also started working recently with Dress for Success, Native Women’s Association of Canada, and the Canadian Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity.
“We are proud of the community work that we have been doing as a result of the support customers have given our brand. When I started Hillberg & Berk and launched the products I was passionate about making, there was a real overwhelming response. And now we are thrilled to be able to share our incredible jewelry with a much broader customer base across the country as we continue to expand.”