So, I must admit, I kind of left you with a bit of a cliffhanger on my last post and a few people have asked me to continue it on. So, here you go.
September 2015. I packed my things and moved out of London, and back in with my parents in Norfolk. Within a few weeks I had booked an appointment with a not-for-profit enterprise agency to assist me with a business plan and getting a startup loan. I had weekly appointments with an advisor (who I still see now) to discuss my business idea and the logistics of how it would all work, putting together this business plan and pitching it to the loan company. It felt like forever, but after a few weeks I received the loan and our appointments were made to monthly instead of weekly.
In my original plan, the bags were going to be made in my Dad’s factory here in the UK, and whilst waiting for the loan and business plan to be approved, my Dad and I were working hard to try and make them ourselves. My dad was fitting the boxes together and I was sewing the fabric to wrap around the box. It may sound easy, but it was really difficult! We spent hours each day, each week trying to find the right fittings, materials, tools, etc. We decided after many attempts that it was just taking too long and costing too much money for each one. This is when we decided to go to China and source a supplier over there instead. Thank goodness we went for this option!
Here I am in Hong Kong in January 2016!
Many people pull a face when they hear me say “it’s made in China”, but I’ve been there and I’ve witnessed the craftsmanship that goes into each of these products, and they truly are incredible workers that turn these designs of mine into actual quality, beautiful products (if I do say so myself). I wouldn’t have a business without them! Oh, and the condition of the factory is better than most factories I’ve seen here in England, so I’m not worried about the conditions they work in at all.
From the point of me moving home and setting up that initial appointment with my advisor, to launching my business, was a year and a half (I worked part time in retail to help with my investment into the business). It wasn’t a quick and easy process that’s for sure. But, I now know the ins and outs of setting up and running a business and now I want to help others do the same. If you want to hear more about my journey and free training’s that I offer please join my new Facebook group here.
Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been a natural leader. People would always call me a ‘bossy boots’ (I’m imagining my brothers right now, haha). I just enjoyed taking the lead, rather than blending in I suppose.
I’ve also been incredibly driven and hardworking all of my life. I swam competitively from a young age and was very disciplined in showing up and giving it 100% every race or training session I went to.
When it came to my career, I decided to go to college and study fashion after becoming obsessed with it when I started watching MTV’s ‘The Hills’. My friends and family were quite surprised at first when I chose fashion, but I loved it and worked hard to get to University. Throughout my time at University a few years later, I worked my socks off to get an internship because I knew it was what I needed in order to stand out when I graduated. The constant emails paid off, as I managed to get my absolute dream internship working on the X-Factor as an assistant stylist!
I kept in contact with the head stylist of the show and amazingly a year later when I graduated I sent him a text to let him know that I was available and he phoned me to say he needed a new assistant asap! I couldn’t believe it. I moved to London a few days later and started working for him as an assistant stylist, it was literally my dream job!
One of my favourite jobs whilst working in London as a stylist- Frankie Bridge & her son Parker on the cover of OK magazine
During the year I worked in London for him, it was like something just wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t this glamorous job that everyone thought it was. I was working ridiculous hours for little pay. I didn’t know anyone in the city, so felt lonely. But something that kept bugging me was that I was working so hard and doing such a good job for someone else to have the rewards. I thought “If I can do this for someone else, why can’t I do it for myself”? So I phoned my dad, told him my idea of starting my own business and handed my notice in.
I moved back home to my parents and instantly felt a massive sigh of relief. I’m so much happier now, which is the most important thing. If you’ve ever considered starting your own business but haven’t made the leap, join my Facebook Group where I share my experience and tips.
I often get asked ‘why were bags the product of choice for your business’? So, I’m going to explain why…
I’ve always loved fashion. I remember having a photoshoot and makeover day when I was about ten years old, and I picked out this white skirt and blazer suit with a sparkly purple crop top. It was so fab! As I grew up, I started being more interested in accessories and became a bit of a ‘bag girl’, rather than a clothes girl. I mean, of course I love clothes and shoes as well, but there was always something about bags growing up that I just loved.
When I was about 16, I went to Las Vegas with my family and some close family friends. Us girls went shopping and the boys went go-karting. I remember going into the Guess store (it was my favourite at the time for bags), but I could never imagine owning one myself. My parents had given me some money for the trip to get myself a present, and I had just about got enough to get one, so I spent probably an hour in the store trying to decide on which one.
Anyway, I got in the queue and paid for the one I chose and then realised that my family friend (she’s like an auntie to me) was at the till next to me paying for the other bag I loved… yes, she’d bought the bag for me! I walked out of the store that day absolutely gobsmacked to have two of my dream bags in my arms, and feel like this was an important factor in my love for bags.
I’ve always kind of thought that as long as you have an AMAZING, STAND-OUT bag, you will look fab. No matter where your outfit is from or how much it cost you, if you invest in a decent bag it will upgrade your entire look. So I guess it makes sense for me to design bags 🙂 What would you sell if you ran your own dream business? Let me know in the comments or connect with me in my new Facebook Group for start-ups.
TODAY MARKS ONE YEAR OF KATHERENA!
I cannot believe the year I’ve just had. Finally working for myself and doing what I absolutely love after a year previously of blood, sweat and tears! I’m going to open up to you and share some of my journey up to this point…
First of all though, you should know that I’m not here to brag, and to make it clear I’m not making a ton of money in my business. I’m not even making hundreds of sales yet. But, WOW have I been on a rollercoaster ride this year.
- I’ve surrounded myself with those who don’t hold me back, and let go of those who do
- I’ve worked my butt off day in & day out, spending a small fortune on developing new skills
- I’ve tried so many new and scary things (some worked, others didn’t)
After discovering and being inspired by some amazing female coaches that I can now call my friends, I have decided to branch out into business coaching- as well as running Designed By Katherena of course, because that’s not going anywhere! I’m often asked by people “how did you source your products” or “what website do you use to sell your items”. I enjoy talking to people about these things because it’s what I love and what I am good at.
So, I’m going to start helping people build a business of their own from scratch and getting out of the 9-5 that they’re sick and tired of. I hate hearing people complain about their jobs, to do absolutely nothing about it. I also hate when people tell me how lucky I am to ‘not have a job’. Firstly, it’s not luck, it’s having a dream and going after it. Secondly, it is a job, I’m just employed by my own company and get to set the rules. You should try it! 😉
If you’d like to hear more about my services then please feel free to join my brand new Facebook Group where I’ll be sharing more.