SheCan365 - 365 Women, 365 Days, 365 Stories.

I’m delighted to be part of this amazing project and to share my story. Beginning on International Women’s Day 2019, #SheCan365 will feature a daily interview with an inspirational woman in business. When Michelle interviewed me she explained that a lot of women find it difficult to talk about their businesses and achievements. I can definitely relate to that!  What a fantastic idea to help showcase women in business and encourage more women to talk about their inspiring stories.  Here's my story - Day 73.

Katherine Kershaw, Founder of ollie & fred

Adding colour to everybody’s life through vibrant, high-quality scarves and accessories

Years ago, my London boss said to me: “With that work ethic, you must be northern!” Little did I know then that the Manchester Bee – symbolising industriousness – would be a best-selling print in my very own scarf collection!

As a stay-at-home mum, I loved the freedom of being able to do the school run and attend every sports day. Finding flexible work proved challenging, so I started to think outside the box. As Tony Wilson famously said: “This is Manchester, we do things differently here…”

 

I reached out to an old work colleague who ran her own luxury faux fur accessories company down in Devon and asked her if I could get involved.  She brought me on board to have exciting conversations with potential new stockists across the North West, but driving around the Cheshire countryside it soon struck me: what I really wanted to do was launch my own scarf range!

I applied to Manchester City Council for a licence to use the mosaic version of the Manchester Bee and pledged to donate 20% of my profits to the We Love MCR charity fund. My silk ‘worker bee’ scarf went on sale in December last year and was an instant hit – selling in amazing city centre locations like the Manchester Visitor Information Centre! Manchester Survivors Choir gifted a scarf to BBC Radio London presenter Gaby Roslin in a fantastic show of support.

I’ve also begun selling lambswool scarves which are named after iconic Manchester streets. Mike Joyce, who drummed for The Smiths, is a celebrity fan of the bee-striped ‘lomax’ design and each sale helps the Mayor of Manchester’s homelessness charity A Bed Every Night.

 

This summer I’m releasing a Suffragette sash scarf – aiding The Pankhurst Trust – as well as a rainbow scarf named ‘bloom’ in honour of Manchester’s Gay Village. I’m also working on bee-themed faux fur purses and other exciting music-inspired designs!

 

Within two months of trading, I won Jacqueline Gold CBE’s female entrepreneurship award but it’s only recently that ollie & fred started to feel like a real brand. I’m excited to see where it can take me by focusing on typically Mancunian values: integrity, creativity, resilience and having a go!

To read more about SheCan365 please click here.