Interview With Harfi Co-Founder, Christopher Walker
1) Hello Christopher, can you please tell us a bit about you?
After graduating from Warwick back in 2008 I actually had a pretty successful career for a few years as a professional poker player before a brief stint in sales! Despite the success, at some point I hit a wall where I was no longer enjoying it and was searching for something more. No matter how well I was doing I was left feeling unfulfilled and somewhat empty. I was looking for more meaning and purpose; a platform whereby I could make more of a difference and that is how Harfi came about. It has always been my dream to start my own business and I wanted to do something that could affect some positive change in the world. And now I get to do both :-)
2) What are your focus areas and why?
Right now I am dedicating most of my time to improving and growing Harfi. Outside of that I have recently focused a lot on building a healthy lifestyle so I’ve been cooking quite a lot, going to the gym and playing a lot of sport!
3) How would you describe Harfi in a few words?
Harfi connects UK consumers with ethically sourced homeware goods from talented artisans across the globe. We try to help our customers build their perfect home by providing them with unique, handmade goods which each have a touching story behind them. Primarily we sell textiles (rugs, throws, towels) and home accessories (baskets, mirrors, bags) with more lines coming soon!
4) Where do you think your work is making an impact?
Initially we sourced all of our goods from Morocco but we have now expanded to include Vietnam and Turkey with plans to expand into India in the near future. We look for areas with a long history of and reputation for high quality craftsmanship combined with designs that we think would be successful over here. By supporting local craftspeople and thereby supporting local communities and cultures we hope that the traditions and skills of the region can continue to be passed down.
Harfi was born out of our desire to celebrate the people behind the products we love. In an age of mass commercialism, traditional crafts, indigenous methods for making, and individualism are being lost every day.
Most artisans in the developing world have limited access to global markets, hindering their potential to grow and improve their financial stability. To address this problem, we aim to offer a platform for the artisans to expand the reach of their products so that more people can have access to them and they can enjoy better working conditions and fairer compensation.
5) What challenges are you facing working in this industry?
One of the largest challenges we face is the logistics of working with people who are not used to selling outside their immediate, local market. We like to work as closely as possible with the artisans themselves and so there can sometimes be language barrier and communication issues. It is vital for us to actually go out and meet our suppliers in person to develop personal relationships with them.
6) What is your favourite part of the job?
I love the fact that every day I am working on something I truly believe in. I feel grateful that every day I go to work I enjoy what I do and get to work towards a goal I feel very passionate about
7) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
In 5 years time I would like Harfi to have established a very strong reputation in the UK and have expanded more into other markets too especially Europe. One of my dreams would also be to open up a physical shop too, probably in London.
8) What can you tell young entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dreams?
Go for it! I think there is currently so much opportunity for anyone to start a business with the expansion of the internet and marketing tools available at your fingertips. Do your research first to make sure the business is viable and then start small and scale up over time. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. You need to be willing to put in the hard work and late nights but the opportunity is there if you want it enough.
9) What are you most excited about at the moment?
We have a trip to India in the new year I’m very excited about as well some really cool collaborative projects coming up. Outside of that I’m looking forward to going home and spending time with the family over Christmas.
10) The last word or final thoughts?
If you have been thinking about starting a business for a while I strongly encourage you to give it a go. There are always going to be reasons why it “can’t work” but you will never know unless you give it a proper try. There are so many good tools available now at the click of a mouse to allow you to bring your own ideas into existence on a limited budget.