Article by Ceri Wheeldon
As Mary approached her 50th birthday she decided she wanted a new challenge in life. Her boys were now grown up, and she was aware she wanted to live her dream rather than be a spectator.
Having worked in the world of fashion , running her own modelling agency at one point, Mary was constantly drawn to handbags- something she had always been passionate about. But how could she create a handbag that was stylish, but different?
Inspiration for her bags
Although admiring handbags from a distance, Mary herself was often put off by flashy branding, and so decided to create quality, stylish, understated handbags. Mary based her branding on the Jardine Star – a fabulous broach frequently worn by the Queen, and the Jardine Star is discretely embossed on her bags.
As a 7 year old child, Mary had loved her music case, and would proudly pretend her music case was a smart, grown up handbag, and decided that this could be a good starting point from a design perspective.
Mary found a master saddler to create her first sample, and then started to work with a commercial fashion house with linked to the London College of Fashion to create more. Within 18 months she found a factory in the UK to start making the bags commercially. It was important to Mary that the bags were made in Britain.
She created her design in 2 sizes…one is just right for carrying a laptop and the other an ipad. More designs are in the pipeline.
Selling primarily online, Mary also wanted to create a retail presence where the bags could be seen…and she offers a try and buy service online. Celebrities have embraced her bags….they are carried by Naomi Watts, Keira Knightley and Rosamund Pike.
Being a small brand. Mary is having to be creative with her marketing efforts- she recently sponsored a ladies polo team at an event in order to build brand awareness.
Mary has said that research has been key to her success. Her advice to others wanting to set up businesses is to do as much research as possible. You really need to be sure that there is a market for your product. When you think you’ve done enough research do more!
Apart from adding more , smaller bags to her range, Mary wants to take her bags to the US and China…world domination is on the cards!
You can find out more about Mary and her bags at jardineoflondon