How one working mum decided to start her own fashion brand in Manchester

Despite her varied, high-pressure career path before children, eight years as a stay-at-home mum left Katherine Kershaw low on confidence by the time her children enrolled in school. But after being inspired to start her own accessory brand — and with a little help from Google Digital Garage — she’s now running a successful business that pays homage to the city she loves.

“The idea for my business first came to me when I was working for a small retail brand, selling high-end accessories,” says Katherine. “I didn’t like sales, but it helped me see the possibility of doing something more urban and contemporary on my own.” Inspired by her parents, Ollie and Fred Taylor, who both ran businesses of their own, she decided to name her new venture after them. Her first product was a scarf featuring the Manchester Bee, an emblem of the city that symbolises its work ethic and industriousness — followed by scarves paying tribute to Joy Division, Manchester Pride and the Suffragettes.

Though the pandemic left many businesses scrambling, learning to use Google Analytics helped give Katherine’s business a crucial boost. “People were searching for ‘letterbox’ alongside gift terms, because a lot of people were sending gifts but were nervous about accepting deliveries,” she explains. “So I set up a page to highlight gifts that were letterbox-sized, which still does really well for me — I get a lot of hits from that page.” Another issue was exposure: “The biggest challenge for any brand with no budget for advertising is, how do people find you?” says Katherine. “But that’s something that Google Digital Garage really helped with. “They taught me how search engines work, how important SEO is, and how important it is to get on Google My Business.”

It also helped that Katherine was set up as an online business from the very start of the pandemic — though, she says, as every company upped its online game, things have become more competitive. Going forward, she plans to introduce more products to her line, and to continue to support important causes with her range — so far, more than £2,800 in profits have gone to charities. She also plans to learn more about online advertising, to reduce her reliance on social media and word-of-mouth advertising. “These things can feel like a job in themselves, and you worry about getting them wrong — every pound counts,” she says. “But when I did my first Ads campaign it gave me so much confidence to be able to sit with someone from Google and go through it all. It really made a difference.”

When I did my first Ads campaign it gave me so much confidence to be able to sit with someone from Google and go through it all.

Katherine Kershaw, Founder, Ollie & Fred

Location

Manchester, United Kingdom

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