Design Divas: Kerri Middleton from K TWO Products

I’m thrilled to introduce to you today, a fabulous business mum and her gorgeous products that aim to keep all of us as organised as we possibly can be! Over to Kerri…..

What’s your name? Kerri  Middleton

How many children and old are they? A daughter who is six and a son who is five

What is the name of your business? K TWO Products

What is your business and when did you start it?

I started K TWO Products in 1998, we design, manufacture and sell stationery products to help busy people get organised with their home admin, home/work schedules and keepsake special occasions like babies and wedding.  So our range includes everything from Takeaway Menu Files to Wedding Planners and Recipe Files to Giftwrap Storage Bags.

 What was the inspiration behind your business?

My first product idea (a cardboard flat pack tree that folded into shape for holding and displaying Christmas cards in the home).   It came to me while I was back packing in Australia from an idea someone had given me while at art school. They were frustrated there was nothing stylish for displaying Christmas cards at Christmas and asked if I couldn’t come up with something.  I had to use the nail scissors in my toilet bag to make a prototype out of scrap card to test my ideas.  On my return to the UK, I found a manufacturer and set up K TWO Products.

 Can you share 3 positive aspects about being a business mum?

  1. I can work flexibly – I never miss a school nativity or parents night because I can juggle my workload across the office and home so I choose my own hours
  2. It sets a good example for my children – they are learning anyone (even their mum!) is capable of anything with hard work and perseverance
  3. I  enjoy lots of different challenges – everything from persuading a stubborn son that it really is past his bed time to developing a business strategy for the next five years

Any downsides?

I am extremely busy and sometimes feel quite stretched in many different directions, I don’t get alot of time for myself – I am lucky to be in bed before midnight three days a month! But the upsides outweigh the downsides – I get to do a job that I love with people I like and who are great at what they do, I enjoy a challenge and tackling new projects at work, and because my husband can be flexible at home, I also get the benefit of being able to fit a busy work life around family life.

 How do you keep motivated?

I love what I do so that always helps.  But yes, on mornings when I’ve had three hours sleep and heavy day of meetings ahead, it is tough.  Usually, I just persuade myself to get going by treating myself to a Caramel Latte on the way to work.

Would you change anything you’ve done in building and developing your business?

20:20 hindsight is a wonderful thing and there is plenty I would do differently if I could go back in time.  The process of recruiting and training a new staff member is expensive and I learned that the hard way by employing someone who had the technical skills for the role but didn’t have the personal attributes to work with the other people in the office or the wider public.  Needless to say, it didn’t last long and I had to find someone else.

 What tips would you give anyone wanting to start their own design/craft/interiors business?

You need a brass neck and thick skin.  Knock on every door and never think you aren’t good enough to be there – my first product got into MOMA in New York, but before and after that, I have had a number of knock backs.  But you’ve just got to pick yourself up and dust yourself down.

From the beginning surround yourself with encouraging, up beat people who believe in you and the business – they can be friends and family or people in your own team.  Being able to bounce around ideas with others and get support when times are tough is absolutely crutial when you are your own boss.

Use all the resources available to you – the Government is desperate for people to start up their own business and offer grants, loans and just as importantly, specialist advice – I would be nowhere without my mentors Alistair and Sarah.

Thanks so much for sharing this with us Kerri – a Caramel Latte works for me too!

Why not take a peek at the K TWO website here –  and follow K TWO on their Blog, K TWO on Facebook and you can tweet K TWO on Twitter as well!

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