Inspirational Woman: Keri Jamieson | Founder, KeriKit

Keri JamiesonKeri, a mother of three including twins saw a gap in the market when she had her first son who is now 9.

Keri designs beautiful and practical handbags and accessories to help busy stylish mum’s stay effortlessly organised and confidently stylish when they need it most, generally running from one place to another with a kid or two in tow or switching from being a mum to a businesswoman depending on the time of day.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

My name is Keri Jamieson. I am 47, a mum of 3 and I am the founder of www.kerikit.com  I create beautifully practical, luxury handbags for multi-tasking, multi-faceted women who are fed up with having to choose between function and fashion just like I was 7 years ago! My designs meet an unfulfilled gap in the market – addressing the needs of stylish, affluent, women, often mothers, who find themselves traversing between mother and work and everything else in between daily! Previously their bags left them constantly rummaging around, endlessly looking for their keys … or pen … as their water bottle tips upside down in their handbag because there isn’t a special pocket to put it in… until now.

KeriKit empowers women to feel confident, effortlessly organised and ready to take on the world in style.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always been quite the planner. Even before having children, I was planning the next five years of my life and when I would have kids. But things don’t always go according to plan, do they?! Fortunately thanks to IVF I was able to have children eventually which I am truly grateful for (most of the time!)

Having enjoyed a successful career as a senior buyer at TK Maxx for over 7 years, I was under no illusion that I would be able to continue my role after having children – and be around to see them grow up, so during my time at TK Maxx, whilst pregnant, I started manifesting the next chapter of my life and my new career. It was during a trip to a well known retailer that I had my light bulb moment. Standing in front of a wall of Changing bags I felt utterly let down by the range on offer and I was frustrated that I had to choose between function and fashion when it came to my mummy / changing bag. I was about to become a new mum, possibly lose my career and now by the looks of it my identity too. This, combined with over 26 years’ experience as an accessories buyer and designer inspired me to be the solution. So, after lengthy chats – about an hour – with my ever so supportive husband and mother I embarked on my new career as an entrepreneur!  

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Oh my goodness where do I start??? The list is so long! Challenges come in various forms. On the one hand I was struggling with my hip at the start of my empire building mission and I was given a hip replacement that didn’t work out so well. This meant trade shows, consumer fairs and long car journeys were a challenge, but I still made it to Las Vegas, Germany, London and Shanghai – where there is a will there is a way.

From a business perspective, my biggest challenge was understanding marketing and business as I had no training in either. I am perfectly capable of designing creating manufacturing and importing my beautiful products but marketing and selling them was a whole different story. I honestly thought all I had to do was design and produce my gorgeous bags and the rest would happen with no further input needed. As I write this, I cringe at how naive I was but we can’t know everything at the start so I don’t beat myself up about it too often.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I think my biggest achievement so far is making it to six years in business. I have to admit it’s been good, bad and sometimes ugly but I’m still here and rather proud to be. I’m incredibly passionate to continue bringing my products to like-minded mothers who write to me daily, thanking me for my designs and explaining how they have helped them feel more confident going back to work and more empowered as a new mother while looking after their babies.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

I would have to say my tenacity because the difference between success and failure is basically refusing to give up. I also have an incredibly supportive family who have complete faith in my brand which keeps me going and also my incredibly loyal customer base that continue to support me as I bring out new designs and collections. The one thing is once you’ve had a KeriKit nothing else quite compares and for that I’m not sorry. They say small incremental steps lead to massive gains, I am making those steps and put my faith in the universe that the massive gains will come. Having a positive mindset is key.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I am a complete fan of mentoring / coaching and I have both mentored graduates during my career at TK Maxx and sought out my own mentor once I realised, I had no idea about marketing in year three of my business. Finding the right coach is very important. I have found that many of the good ones have written books, have podcasts and free Facebook communities so it is really worth checking those options out first before committing.  You need to make sure you find somebody that really understands you and your business. A lot of a business’s success is down to the mindset of the person running it. This is where your mentor will really help. They will identify any money blocks you have, work on any self-limiting belief’s you will have and help you smash through any self-sabotage you will be guilty of – trust me I had all 3!  

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Sadly I was discriminated against during my first pregnancy. I did not receive the promotion that was due and my review was reduced to 1 point below the level needed for a bonus – just because I was pregnant.  They knew it and so did I. However on the same day I returned from my maternity leave

(on the old pay grade) I was promoted. In India, women spend an average of six hours a day performing unpaid work, while men spend only one. In the US, women spend an average of four hours a day; men just 2.5. There is no country where the gap is zero. Across their lifetimes, on average a woman will spend seven years more performing unpaid work than a man. I find it so sad that this inequality still exists today. If I could change one thing it would be to allow flexible working for both men and women, with equal pay and shared maternity leave rights so each family could choose who would stay at home and be able to share in the experience if they so desire.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Before KeriKit I had another clothing business about 15 years ago called K Kouture. I remember as I was setting it up my husband said to me ‘why don’t you do bags instead, that’s something you already know so well’ However with my degree in fashion design and a love for pattern cutting I replied saying ‘that would be too easy – I want something a bit more challenging’ I then proceeded to create a collection of men’s AND women’s outerwear, dresses jeans, denim, jersey and silk garments from four different countries, all with multiple sizes and probably totalling about 60 different designs in total. I look back on that comment and think how foolish I was. On the one hand I’m incredibly impressed at how I managed to do this looking back but had I actually listened to him and launched KeriKit instead 13 years ago, let’s just say that may have been a better decision.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My hopes and dreams for the future are to create a business that allows me to support my family and to give back. KeriKit already works with the Honeypot foundation which is a Children’s Charity for young carers in the UK giving them respite from their daily role of primary carer for a sick parent or sibling. I believe all children deserve a happy, secure and safe childhood filled with happiness but sadly that is not the case for so many. I would love to be able to do more to support the young vulnerable children of this world as they will grow up to be the parents of the future. My hopes and dreams for my brand is to continue growing steadily and to continue to create beautiful products for my customers that will make their lives easier. This season we are launching our gorgeous journal covers which not only look and feel amazing, but they will also help you feel less stressed, more organised and help you create a more balanced life too which I think we can all aspire to!

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