A short while ago I came across Peter Gulyas’ new brand called Herdsman that he launched in November last year, offering his first wall clock collection. Designing and manufacturing contemporary clocks in Hungary is rare, and I became very curious who is actually behind the brand. A few days later I contacted Peter, we had a nice conversation and I had the pleasure to interview the young, determined and passionate Hungarian wall clock designer. (The brand name Herdsman is the English translation of the designer’s last name.)
Hungarian Success Stories (HSS): Peter, could you tell me what did you do prior to Herdsman?
Peter Gulyas (PG): I was a graphic designer at several agencies and worked on brand and corporate identity projects for various clients as well as on related creative projects.
HSS: How did the idea come to create your own brand?
PG: Even though I have loved what I did and my work was always appreciated, at the end of the projects I used to have the feeling that it was kind of an ‘applied’ art. My creativity could never reach 100% as there were some external boundaries to what I could create and I had no influence on how long my work could live on. A graphic designer has to come up with a tremendous amount of creative ideas and at one point it reaches a limit. I had the impression that I ‘sold’ myself in pieces and I was never 100% satisfied with my work because it was a compromise. For the last few years I knew that I will need a change and started looking at various options, where I could utilize my skills best and be completely satisfied with the output, too.
HSS: And why did you start designing wall clocks?
PG: Actually a wall clock could be anything that shows the time and can be hung on the wall. The shape or the material of a wall clock is not given per se and it provides a wide space for creativity. Despite the fact that nowadays a wall clock is rather a design object than just a timekeeper, 90% of wall clocks has a round shape, shows twelve numbers with the hand placed in the middle. I was able to identify a wide range of opportunities in this segment, and given my previous experience as a graphic designer in the ‘applied art’ field, I tried to develop a versatile product range. I have seen a lot of tastefully appointed interior spaces, but most of the time these lacked wall clocks as wall decoration, because there are only a couple of models available on the market that suit modern and refined interior styles. Based on my overall findings and observation I think I found a niche in the market, where I am able to implement my ideas and can satisfy an existing customer need.
HSS: Do you design on your own or do you have a team?
PG: I enjoy the freedom of creativity now, and I enjoy very much that I can do what I think is right and looks nice. So yes, I design every piece of my collection myself – from A to Z.
HSS: How would you describe your collection?
PG: I envisioned a collection of nine pieces in different styles to make it fit into homes and living spaces with various interior designs. Herdsman wall clocks blend into the environment, they have a contemporary, elegant and minimalist design. In my first collection colors and materials used are similar, but shapes and styles of the clocks are very different. Herdsman wall clocks are made of stainless steel and they all have a final manual brush that makes my designs look exclusive.
HSS: Where are the Herdsman wall clocks made?
PG: It was very important to me that I can visit and be in direct contact with my suppliers. All parts of the Herdsman wall clocks – even the smallest parts – are made in Hungarian manufactories, except for the movements. The built-in Junghans and UTS movements are imported from Germany. Assembly of the wall clocks is entirely made in Hungary, too, what I am very proud of.
HSS: Who are the Herdsman customers? Who do you design your wall clocks for?
PG: I designed and developed the Herdsman collection for people with refined taste and style, who appreciate unique products and craftsmanship.
HSS: How do you plan to build up your distribution network?
PG: Since Herdsman wall clocks are made-to-order, to partner with the right stores is extremely important to me. I usually contact the potential stores myself. Herdsman wall clocks will be available only in exclusive design shops and concept stores. On the other hand I also sell my designs directly to customers via my website. Exceptional customer service is actually the core of my brand, and if I can, I will even deliver the order myself. Obviously, it cannot always be the case, but direct contact with my customers is essential to me.
HSS: What feedback did you receive, when you launched your products in November 2012?
PG: I can say that I am very satisfied as the feedback was very positive. My designs were featured in several magazines and blogs, and even though I have just launched my brand and my first collection, sales was very satisfactory, too. Herdsman wall clocks have already been borrowed for interior design photo shootings and in the next months my designs will be exhibited in a few show rooms. So I can say it has been a very good start and I am happy with how it is all picking up.
HSS: What are the next steps at Herdsman?
PG: We will work on building up our distribution network, at first focusing on the Hungarian market, and at a later stage we would like to expand internationally, too. Furthermore we will be negotiating with a few brands about potential partnerships.
HSS: What did you consider as the most difficult in the entire product & brand development process – from the idea until the launch?
PG: Well, honestly, the research and development process was really tough. Almost every step led to a dead-end. Everything I envisioned how I wanted it to be, could not be done. I actually had to develop new methods and ways, to get the final result as I designed it – without compromising neither on quality nor on my original idea. I wanted the products exactly the way I designed them and not just something similar.
HSS: What is your advice to people starting their own businesses?
PG: My first advice is to be persistent and do not compromise: there is always a solution to what you wanted – maybe the path is different to what you had in mind. Secondly, if you are not certain about something, do not stop asking questions, the more questions you ask, the better. And lastly, if you at one point are satisfied with something less than 100%, it will definitely hit back later and you will probably regret it – always go to the max.
HSS: What are your dreams regarding Herdsman?
PG: I would of course love to see my designs to be available worldwide. Then I would like to start working on my next collection in about a year. I very much enjoyed the process of creation – from the idea to the final product. It was a very emotional process with a lot of beautiful moments along with some hopeless situations, when I just did not know any further. However, these tough moments led me to new ways and opened new doors. This is the beauty of creation and of going off the beaten track. So I guess currently I am living my dream.
Source of images: courtesy of Herdsman.