University of Regina alumna Rachel Mielke started with a passion for designing classic but bold jewellery. In just a few years she turned her hobby into a successful, internationally-acclaimed business. Today, the Regina-based company Hillberg & Berk does $1 million in annual sales and adorns celebrities including Michelle Obama, Sarah McLachlan and Celine Dion.
The jewellery is sold through exclusive boutiques, galleries, stores, and online. Over the past three years the company has grown (the number of staff has quadrupled) and Hillberg & Berk's first store will open this fall. Equally important, Mielke says, is that Hillberg & Berk now competes as one of the strongest designer jewellery lines in Canada.
Mielke attributes some of the success to the fact that Hillberg & Berk has a solid team of employees who share and are invested in her vision for the company, demonstrate commitment to continual design innovation, and provide a supportive community.
Success is also attributed to the fact that Hillberg & Berk is able to give back to the community, both locally and globally.
"I'm not just passionate about creating jewellery but also about using Hillberg & Berk as a tool to create social change," says Mielke.
She works hard to ensure her company's impact reaches beyond the design and sale of jewellery – working with local organizations and charities, serving as President of Regina Business and Professional Women, and sourcing silver from a small woman-run company in Bali.
"My company outsources to other women-run businesses, who mostly work out of their homes to do parts of the silver production. The growth of the company has had a strong impact on the boutique industry and the lives of these women."
Though her business is only a few years old, Mielke has won numerous awards. Earlier this year, she was named the Saskatchewan recipient of the Business Development Bank of Canada's 2011 Young Entrepreneur Award.
Mielke will be recognized with one more award, presented by the University of Regina and the University of Regina Alumni Association. She will be honoured as the 2011 recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, which recognizes an alumnus under the age of 35 who is making significant contributions in their field of endeavour.
Mielke will be one of five distinguished alumni recognized at the 7th Annual Alumni Crowning Achievement Awards Gala, the pinnacle event of the Alumni Homecoming Weekend taking place September 29 - October 1.
To purchase tickets and for more information visit: www.uregina.ca/alumni/acaa-event or call 1-877-779-4723.