KeriKitBackpackis your Sidekick for Success – Kerikit England is breaking boundaries with their stylish leather bags, designed to empower women and mothers on the go. Beautiful and practical, KeriKit’s leather handbags and backpacks will make you feel confident and organised in a working parent’s world. Whether you are going on an adventure, heading to work, or out and about with your baby, the KeriKit’s JOY bag has you covered…
Women Talking talks to founder Keri Jamieson about her interesting journey to success.
Have you always been interested in fashion and design?
“Yes! When I was a child, I used to think when I was older, I would travel the world sourcing amazing fabrics from Indian markets and souks. It must have been from something I saw on the TV but jump forward 35 years and I suddenly realised as I walked down Tai Nan St in HK, looking for fabrics that I was doing just that – but in the real world! I love sourcing the right materials for my designs and watching them come to fruition. I also remember spending what felt like hours in front of a full-length mirror fashioning different designs out of my bathrobe till I got shouted at to get into bed or get dressed! I love how materials can frame your body, compliment it, and support it too.”
What was your line of business before you founded KeriKit? Did your previous experience help the launch of your company?
“After completing my fashion design degree, I worked with suppliers in Leicester for a few years before I launched my own clothing brand called K Kouture and ran it alongside my full-time job for about 4 years. I look back at what I achieved, and I am incredibly proud – it’s amazing what you can do when you are in your early 30s!
“I designed and created collections for both men and women, sourcing from China, India, and Turkey, and sold them both online from my website and on Brick Lane market every weekend. I was very tenacious and passionate, but I took on too much and should have picked either men’s OR women’s and had fewer options.
“Looking back, I learned some important lessons about not taking on more than I should, but I still had a whole lot more learning to come.
“K Kouture came to a natural end as I was offered a fantastic role as a buyer at TK Maxx. I sold the stock to TK Maxx on Friday and started my new career with them on Monday. I had a great 5 years there before I became pregnant with Jasper. I knew that there was no chance of a part-time role. Sadly, this was made very clear, so when I returned to work and became pregnant with my twins, I knew I had to come up with a new life for myself.
“Having juggled motherhood with work with my firstborn, I found myself switching between bags all the time and felt totally disorganised. I kept losing my phone and keys, needed 2 of everything, and usually ended up frustrated and discombobulated.
“My tired mummy brain combined with my entrepreneurial mind kept whirring away and I realised there was something missing for women. A bag that could do it all! I needed something I would be happy to wear to the office and be proud to take out to dinner. I needed a bag that kept my crap / essential items organised and made me feel good at the same time! I felt all my experiences to date had led me to this opportunity and I was thrilled to launch KeriKit 8 years ago to help support busy women, often mothers, navigate motherhood and work whilst being the best, most organised versions of themselves through my designs.”
What are women generally looking for when buying a new bag?
“I believe women want to feel and look good at the same time and shouldn’t have to compromise or choose one over the other. A bag can do this for you. it is an extension of your wardrobe and your personality and can bring empowerment and confidence to women when they need it most. Nowadays we want our bag to not only look good, but we also want to be organised too! We need a bag that can hold our wine/coffee/water bottle upright or store our milk for that all-important coffee. We need to be able to find our keys in an instant and grab a pen with our eyes closed. My bags do just that. Designed from my own frustrations I ensure each handbag has a pen holder, bottle holders, and even a perfect place for a hair bobble and nail file too. Life’s too short to rummage and now you don’t have to.”
Why do we feel the need to carry so much in our bags?
“I think our handbag is like our survival kit. In a similar way, a soldier needed his Kit bag when going out to war, we need something similar by our sides too. One lip-gloss for the day and one for the night, a change of shoes or flats for the walk home, water to keep hydrated, and a laptop, kindle, or book are a must. Then there are all the things the kids ‘might’ need – snacks, medication, crayons, colouring book, match attacks, plasters, etc, the list is endless! I think we feel that if we have everything for every eventuality, we are better people and parents. I know I felt like a failure when I had to ask another mum for a plaster, and they pull out a full first aid kit!”
“That’s a tricky one as all my designs do something slightly different, which is why some customers have the entire collection! I think it used to be our Joy backpack as it’s so versatile and we have unisex and recycled nylon options too but more recently our customers have loved our new bum bags which arrived in February for spring and summer and were sold out by March! They are a stark contrast to each other in terms of functionality and I am pretty sure both styles are owned by the same customers, and they serve different purposes. There is generally something for everyone in the KeriKit collection, the challenge is picking just one.”
What type of leather do you use for your bags and why?
“I always try to source my leather in the same country as it is manufactured to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible. It is very important that the leather used is fit for purpose and will stand the test of time and the abuse my bags get. I am very passionate about finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint and be more sustainable too, so I have created my own signature collection of leathers that are naked finished. This means no coating is added and therefore fewer chemicals and water are used in the dying process. Only the finest skins are used as no pigment is added to the surface and the leather is left in its most natural state which looks and smells divine.
“Next season we will be launching another brand-new material to the collection using apple leather. This is super exciting and is our alternative solution to PU. The pomace of apples juiced for the food and drinks industry is repurposed and turned into a type of leather. It still has PU in it, but it is much better for the environment and it’s great to reuse the pomace rather than see it go into landfill.”
What is Smart Works?
“We want to try and ensure that no KeriKit bag ends up in a landfill. We do this by using leather which will decompose over time and materials such as recycled nylon, which is created from old fishing nets, bottles, and bottle tops too. This is a far more sustainable approach to PU littering the high street in fast fashion and in higher-end brands too. This cannot decompose and will end up in landfill sites. We are very conscious that our bags will live beyond your love for them which is why we have partnered with Smartworks Manchester so your bag can go on to live another life when you are ready to treat yourself to something new.
“Smart Works is a charity that supports women back to work after a career break. Along with mentoring, their team provides clothing and styling, giving a much-needed confidence boost and giving women the self-belief, they need to shine.
“We all know the importance of how clothing and accessories can make us feel which is why we want to help pass on this feeling to as many women as possible. By donating your pre-loved KeriKit bags and workwear, you can make a dramatic difference to a deserving woman who will benefit from the unique support that Smart Works offers and your KeriKit bag lives on with another deserving woman.”