How can a timeless design be updated for the modern world? Mary Jardine may have found the answer. Her handbag line is inspired by the quintessential music bag, the luxury leather designs made exclusively in England. A new line that's picking up lots of attention, I spoke to Mary about the process behind her designs and who she would love to see carrying a Jardine of London bag. Enjoy!
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?I would say that I have had much experience working for other people but feel happiest at the helm of my own company. The hardest thing I find to do is delegate. This tends to mean I make my life harder for myself as I want to control everything within my business. I have learnt that it is a very good idea to let other people do the jobs that I am not so good at doing.
What attracted you to start your own business?I wanted to feel proud of something I had created myself and feel passionate about. I knew that in time I would realise that I would be more disappointed in the things I hadn't done with my life than the things I had. I wanted a new challenge in my life, my two boys were all grown up and it was time for me to do something for myself.
What have been the highlights and challenges?The highlights have been bringing to life my creations and getting involved in an exciting industry that I believe in. Meeting some wonderful talented creative people who share the excitement and joy of creating beautiful luxury leather goods. The challenges have been finding the right people to work with. It has been an experience to say the least, trusting people you have only just met is hard. You are completely relying on someone else who can make or break your business and dream. People make businesses.
What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?Do your research and more research first, create your own story and brand, make sure your product(s) are really good and work, and above all make sure you have a market place where you will receive the all important sales. Never be frighted to ask people who know more than you do - it is the only way to learn. Be like a sponge and soak up as much information as possible. Read inspiring books about your industry, read what is going on in your industry, read, read and read some more!
This is my first collection. My inspiration for the design comes from my childhood memories of my leather music case. I always wondered what it would be like to have something incredibly chic with lovely clean lines incorporating the music bar but at the same time have a practical handbag that actually worked. My inspiration for the star used in my brand name comes from the Jardine Star Brooch which was left to Queen Elizabeth II in 1981 by Lady Jardine. The brooch has eight points and a diamond is placed on a knife-wire between each point. The Queen wore this brooch for her diamond jubilee pageant trip up the River Thames in 2012. It is one of her favourite brooches.
Tell us about your collection and the design inspiration behind it.
Who would you love to see carrying a Jardine of London bag?I would be proud for any woman to carry one of my bags. I want them to feel part of the Jardine of London story and engage with the brand. I have supplied bags to Keira Knightley, Naomie Harris, Emma Watson and Rosamund Pike. These are all beautiful successful women I admire.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?I have a husband who has been in training for 25 years - he is my second pair of hands. Without him I couldn't do what I do. We support each other in our separate businesses and if I am unable to cook supper he will do it - which is wonderful!
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?My husband is my mentor in business and private - followed closely by my two grown-up boys who have been my inspiration for driving my business forward. My eldest son is setting up his own business with the support of my husband. He has tremendous entrepreneurial skills which is just great to see.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?Julie Deane, The Cambridge Satchel company. She has done the most amazing job with her company. Her entrepreneurship is second to none and she juggled it all whilst still having young children. I also hugely admire Arianna Huffington - I think she is quite extraordinary. Her career has been such an interesting one and she has achieved so much.
I would like to launch into the luxury retail sector - to enable my customers to be able to go and see and feel my bags. I would also like to assemble a strong team of people who can each bring something different to the table of Jardine of London. This will in turn hopefully enable me to drive my brand forward to growth and subsequent success.
What do you want to accomplish in the next year?