When I asked Richard what inspired him to start HMDH Academy, “It was Youtube”, he said. It initially sounded odd to me, but then he justified his statement by taking me on a trip down his memory lane.
How HMDH Came to Be
Richard first met his wife at Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, where they first mastered the art of designing handbags. With the birth of their son, they decided to move to Las Vegas, Nevada, opting for a quieter neighborhood.
Richard had previously had some success selling handbags in LA, which he hoped to replicate once he settled in LA with his family and provide for an ideal upbringing for his son.
But as Richard puts it, “it was never a smooth ride”. Things did not work out as he had hoped and he was left looking for a job while his wife was already working overtime to sustain finances.
“Those were testing times but then one day while surfing the net I came across YouTube videos, where people were supposedly outlining steps to make handbags. I looked and said to myself ‘that’s not how you do it‘”.
And that was the beginning of a new life for Richard. Slow but steadily he started working on videos where he demonstrated the correct way to make handbags, under the name “How To Make A Designer Handbag”.
The videos were a massive success, getting up to 50,000 views a month on YouTube.
“It was heartening to see that people miles apart found value in my work and appreciated the art form”, he added.
Millions of views and 10,000 subscribers later Richard decided to start his own website- How to Make Designer Handbags.
“It was an obvious choice to reach out to even more people and touch lives with the work that I do.”
The Tryst with Moodle
Starting out with a website is easier said than done.
Richard initially tried out Facebook as a content platform, but once the course content grew in size, it became difficult to manage, store and organize.
Then he chanced upon Moodle.
“I like the structure and the fact that it was everything an educator would want, from lesson to assignments, to grading, to completion certificate. I was able to create a comprehensive e-learning website that every educator will want to have.”
But even the most widely used LMS in the world has it’s own share of flaws.
As Richard points out, “there are limitations to Moodle especially from a marketing point of view, since everything has to be created outside of Moodle. Needing to scale the business, I needed to be able to market to social media and have flexibility when I wanted to try new marketing strategies, things that Moodle didn’t offer. To me, that’s the limitation for small niche educators such as myself.”
“WordPress! Powering over 25% of the Internet is one hell of a resume, I knew I could overcome all the shortcomings that Moodle presented me with if I could somehow integrate my Moodle courses to work with, my WordPress site. The reason I decided to integrate Moodle and WordPress is simple. It was the easiest solution on a limited budget.
HMDH Academy has over four years of data, it would have been almost impossible to transfer all that data and not lose some. So that left transferring to an entirely new platform unfeasible, I still needed to have an easy to use but a responsive platform. Hence I turned to Edwiser Bridge- the only option to integrate the two platforms, something that was not possible five years ago.”
Enter Edwiser Bridge
Richard extensively researched possible solutions based on a variety of parameters. “I google searched by performance, by price, by the ease of installation and use. I looked at Paradiso, I looked at another option out of Australia. There were several options, many were very expensive options, costing hundreds of dollars or required monthly subscriptions.
Edwiser Bridge happened to be just the thing I was looking for and seemed like worth taking a chance on. And given the timing (and the pricing), it was a blessing in disguise.”
When asked about his future plans for growth, he replied, “Now that the technical end of things is taken care of, I plan on charting my growth around the stability that Edwiser Bridge provides my website. I plan on being more aggressive about my social media marketing which I don’t do now.”
Towards concluding the conversation with Richard, I couldn’t help but feel a warm gush of pride, when I reflected upon how Edwiser Bridge and its extensions is giving individuals like Richard an opportunity to share with the world their work and grow as an individual, an instructor and a Moodlepreneur.