Real Business recently sat down with Keri Jamieson, founder and director of KeriKit, to talk about launching her own online business, creating a fashionable accessories brand that caters to the working mum, and how motherhood can impact women’s sense of self.
KeriKit was launched in 2015 by Keri Jamieson to fill a gap in the handbag market where she felt busy, hardworking mothers and professional women were being ignored. This women-led brand creates luxury, stylish handbags and rucksacks that contain all of the organisation and space for women to take on the world unhindered. The inspiration and motivation for KeriKit came during Jamieson’s pregnancies, when she struggled to find an appropriate handbag that would handle all the tools she needed as a busy professional and a hardworking mum of three.
“They were either functional and grey, unstylish and depressing, or they were made of poor-quality leather and didn’t stand the test of time. There was nothing in the typical retail stores that was affordable, durable, and glamorous. I needed something that would fit in at the office as well as at school pick-up.”
It is more of a standard now for women to keep working after having kids these days. Whether women choose to be a stay-at-home mum or whether they choose to work, no one should be forced into a box. Women are multi-faceted, with social lives, personal projects, parenting, clubs, groups, even political or charitable campaigns.
“Women are not one dimensional, why should our fashion be? Why are bags made for us so divisive? You can either be a mummy or you can be professional, you can either be functional or you can be stylish; I don’t understand why we can’t be both or even more than just those two things.”
With over 25 years of experience in fashion, retail, and design, Jamieson made the decision to fix the problem herself. Keri works closely with her customers to design bags that not only look fantastic but meet the practical needs of the modern woman. Jamieson’s Kit Girl Club gives her the opportunity to connect directly with her customers, establishing a community of women who can support each other and give the company valuable feedback.
“When you have just had a baby, it is really hard to build a new or understanding community around you. You are often labelled as ‘mum’ now and you can feel isolated, especially if you aren’t going to work or connecting with colleagues because of the maternity leave. So, the KitGirlClub is the supportive environment I would have wanted during and after my pregnancies and I was so glad it was there for parents who had their babies in lockdown and literally couldn’t see anybody, I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.”
After releasing her initial products for new mums, Jamieson was encouraged to expand her collection by her loyal customers, who appreciated KeriKit’s design and quality but no longer needed the larger changing bags. The range now includes bags of all sizes and designs, including optional extras that allow each buyer to customise and personalise their KeriKit to perfectly suit their lifestyle. Materials quality is one of the top criteria for a KeriKit bag; Jamieson is careful to select high-quality leather and hardware to build handbags that rival the designer products on the market.
“My bags have to deliver on four different levels: it has to be beautiful, useful, durable, and a good price for a product that should last you years. A KeriKit should keep you organised and make your life easier, and our brand grows with our customers.”
KeriKit are committed to making their leather bags as sustainably as possible, reducing their carbon footprint by partnering with Oblong Trees Ltd, a UK non-profit that helps the business plant trees around the world with every KeriKit sale, helping to make each product carbon neutral and protecting the planet’s future.
As a women-led business, Jamieson’s top advice for young or new entrepreneurs is to keep your expectations realistic but absolutely enjoy the journey.
“I think it’s amazing when women can take the chance to start a business, I think if you’ve got an idea, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go for it! It’s fabulous if you can make it work around family but words of caution, I would say from my own experience that it’s not going to give you the work-life balance you are dreaming of. It is hard work, you will need to make sacrifices, but the rewards come with time. My top tip is to be strict with yourself, manage your time, know yourself well enough to put the right boundaries in place so you don’t overwork yourself.”
So, how would you define success?
“I’m not going to lie, success is always defined by numbers and profit, but holistically speaking, for me it would be the sheer achievement of starting my own thriving business whilst breastfeeding twins and raising young children. Thousands of women are enjoying my products, I’ve been given so many 5 stars reviews and heartfelt messages about how my business has helped women regain their identity outside of motherhood and I find myself welling up because I understand how they are feeling. Success for me is definitely being able to make a positive difference in people’s lives as well as supporting myself and my family financially.”