A ‘MUMTREPRENEUR’ who made her fledgling product in the back of a camper van with a pair of nail scissors and cardboard has gone on to secure a major order from a retail giant.
Kerri Middleton, 40, from Joppa, has built up her business K Two, which specialises in products which help busy people organise their lives, over 15 years. And the hard work has paid off – with department store John Lewis now taking K Two products including wedding planners, flip-top recipe files and magnetic notepads to 29 of its stores UK-wide.
Kerri, 40, said: “I was absolutely delighted when I found out. Getting an order with John Lewis is like the holy grail.”
Explaining how she came to set up the business, she said: “I was looking at Christmas products in the searing heat when I was travelling in Australia and I started wondering if there was a gap in the market for something stylish that would hold Christmas cards.
“I ended up cutting out a shape from cardboard with a pair of nail scissors in the back of a camper van.”
Along with her future husband Kieran, she returned to Scotland – with each determined to start their own separate businesses.
Kerri beat him to it, laying claim to the K Two in the company name.
Before starting out on her road to success, she took advice from the Small Business Gateway, which helped her put together a business plan and put her in touch with the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust, which concentrates on helping people between the ages of 18 and 25 to start up and grow their businesses.
When she returned to the UK, she started selling her three-dimensional Christmas card trees and set up her business at a small office on Leith Walk.
She then sold these to small independent shops and a few chains.
As the business grew, Karen moved in to bigger premises on Leith Walk which gave her and her team the space to design and sell a wider variety of products, including a family calendar – which comes with monthly pockets – and an award-winning wedding planner.
News about the John Lewis order came just weeks before Kerri and the team moved to a spacious and modern office conversion on Gayfield Street.
Kerri said: “I don’t profess to be the next Anita Roddick, although I admire successful women in business who’ve got the balance right between doing the work they love and having a happy family.
“I’m just a mum who’s always loved John Lewis and aspired to getting the organising products I’ve designed with my team on to their shelves.
“Now that we’re in there, and our products are selling I just burst with pride every time I think about it.”
Kerri, who lives with husband Keiran, 41, and children Lilly, eight, Finn, six and five-month-old Max, believes being a mum herself helped her understand her customer base.
Asked what she thinks of being called a ‘mumtrepreneur’, Kerri said: “I think it’s come about because it’s tough to be a mum and an entrepreneur.
“It takes all your energy to drive a business and take risks and it’s hard to combine that with being a mum and having kids.”