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Mary Jardine – Turning a passion for handbags into a business in her 50s


Article by Ceri Wheeldon

50plus entrepreneur creates handbag business image

Copyright Albanpix.com-Picture by Alban Donohoe

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.

Jardine of London Red - Copy

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.

Ladies Charity Polo Day for The Haven 2016 @ Guards Polo Club

Ladies Charity Polo Day for The Haven 2016 @ Guards Polo Club

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!

What’s next?

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

 

 

 

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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