Inspirational Women: Kiki McDonough | Creative Director of Kiki McDonough Ltd

Kiki McDonough

Kiki has been the Creative Director of Kiki McDonough Ltd for over 30 years. She is known for her use of unique and unusual gemstones in vibrant and daring colour combinations. Her passion lies in creating wearable fine jewellery that every woman can enjoy and love wearing every day.

What inspired you to start a business?

I am from a jewellery background, but my family previously sold antique jewellery, so when I started my business in 1985 I was never scared about wearing fine jewellery and was completely at home with gemstones. I have always loved coloured gemstones and thought they were underrated, undervalued and needed to be enjoyed and worn in beautiful designs.
It was, however, other people’s confidence in me that inspired me to go ahead and set up the business. The brand has now grown and is recognised all over the world. There are thirteen distinctive collections, as well as men’s cufflinks, an exclusive range of luxury leather accessories, and a range of limited edition 18ct gold watches.

What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?

The greatest challenge is juggling your busy life, doing your best to be a good businesswoman, mother and boss all at the same time. And keeping your friends! You can’t ever take your eye off the ball for a second as you are accountable for everything at the end of the day, so there is never a quiet moment.

The greatest reward is feeling that you are making all that work and managing to succeed in your work, with a happy work-life balance.

It is important to take a moment to look back at everything you have achieved – especially at pivotal moments throughout your career. This year I am celebrating 30 years in the business, which is something I am enormously proud of. Because of that, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what has made the business a success. It really spurs me on to embrace the opportunities the future holds.

What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?

You need to always be focused and absolutely set on what it is you want to achieve. You must be disciplined and determined (and never ill!), but be adaptable and accept when you need to adjust your plans. Never worry about making mistakes or feeling a bit scared – you learn from your mistakes and a little bit of fear will keep you focused.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?

The people who work for you are absolutely key, and making sure the business continues to be successful so you can keep them employed is challenging. My business has survived through two recessions and I am proud to have been able to maintain my workforce. My staff are so important to me, and I believe in investing in their training and development.

Another challenge is running the business entirely on my own. I own it 100%, so every single decision is down to me. Every decision is a challenge!

Finally, staying ahead of the game with new ideas, and always pushing the boundaries with my designs is a challenge.

How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?

Sadly I have not. My father was a jeweller, but he did not think I would be capable of launching my own business, as I was a woman! He would be staggered to see me here, 30 years on.

Young jewellery designers often ask my advice and I am happy to give it. I believe in investing time and knowledge in the next generation, and it is always so exciting seeing such enormous talent developing.

What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?

There are so many opportunities to network nowadays, so you have to be quite sensible and selective regarding what you go to or you would never do any work! I tend to prioritise networking where potential clients are, rather than networking for the sake of it. It is however a two-way thing! You should always be aware of the people you meet who might be able to help you in the future, but it is equally important to be on the look out for people who you yourself can help too. What goes around comes around, and relationships are extremely important. I feel strongly that you should do your bit to help others within your industry, and loyalty is hugely important to me.

What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?

You should have a plan for growth but it should evolve. You need to be adaptable and reactive.

I believe you should climb the ladder slowly but surely so that your business remains stable. Keep a tight grip on the growth of the business and, however tempting it is, don’t rush as things can easily get financially out of hand.

What does the future hold for you?

International expansion of our wholesale. We are already in America, but in 2016 we will be expanding worldwide.

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