Erica Stewart founder hardtofind

Female Leader, Erica Stewart, hardtofind.

Erica Stewart, or Eri, founded hardtofind, a mecca for unique, quirky, stand-out quality fashion items and gifts. Hardtofind celebrates fun, innovative design from the best small creative businesses in Australia and globally.

How did Eri start hardtofind?

When Eri was working in the media industry, she saw an opportunity to monetise premium brands as an alternative to newspaper advertising. Hardtofind was born in 2008 and Eri has grown it into a $15 million per annum online success story, with 50% of the business based on repeat customers. She says the linchpin of her success is the suppliers that she rejects. A whopping 90%! She believes this is essential to maintaining hardtofind‘s brand ethos and exclusivity that keeps customers flocking to the site.

How did she accomplish this feat dreamed of by entrepreneurs the world over? We’ll let Eri tell you in her own words.

What do you love about what you do?

Meeting our sellers and hearing their inspirational stories is always a highlight. They’re all so creative and passionate about what they do and I’m proud that hardtofind gives them a platform to help scale their businesses and access a much bigger audience than they could otherwise hope to reach alone. We’ve helped so many independent designers and small creative businesses reach their potential. Our top sellers make six figures with us. It’s incredibly gratifying.

I also love that we’ve created a new kind of retail experience for customers who are bored with the same-old-same-old mainstream offering, and who are looking for something genuinely different. We have more than 36,000 carefully curated gift and lifestyle products on the site, each with their own unique story. Plus thousands that can be personalised with a monogram or special message. Our customers value individuality, and we’ve created a shopping experience that allows them to tap into that.

What has been the most significant step in the hardtofind. journey?

Making the decision to grow organically with no outside investment. We’ve bootstrapped our growth to this point and re-invested our profits and the business is in a really healthy, sustainable place. We have zero debt and we’ve now reached a point where growth and profit are both heading in the same direction.

What has surprised you the most since starting hardtofind.?

I’m continually surprised and humbled by how many people I meet who tell me they know and love hardtofind. We’ve worked really hard to create a unique value proposition for customers so it’s wonderful to receive that validation. There’s so much positivity in the market about the brand.

If there was one piece of advice you would give to a future female leader, what would it be?

Play your own game.


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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.