Single mum who lost her job and had just 86p in the bank now runs a £160,000 handbag business

A SINGLE mum-of-two who lost her job and had just 86p in the bank now runs a fashion business that’s on course to make £160,000.

Keri Adriana, 48, from Bristol, started making handbags watching tutorials on YouTube and attending a local sewing class.

She told Fabulous Digital: “My grandmother was a seamstress and she had lots of handbags to go with every outfit she wore for church.

"I thought they often looked a bit old fashioned and I would re-vamp them for her more in to my own style. It became an unofficial hobby."

By April 2017, she had made 15 different types of bags – shoulder bags, handbags, tote bags and clutch bags with two or three of each kind. She had her collection, and she was ready to launch.

Kerri called her range Amschela, a name inspired by her four-year-old grandson Amschel. The word in 17th century hebrew also means "Angelic black bird."

Be an angel Love the “Tascha” bag by @amschela ?

A post shared byT? (@tiacollinss) on

#abouttonight the night I feel in love with @lelloueofficial at @theofficialselfridges what a beautiful #resortwear #collection simply stunning. The collection made me want to book a holiday in the sun #yachtwear #beachwear a #breathtaking collection can't wait to try wear when next in the sun big thanks to @purplepr you guys are amazing love the brand. #Renebyrdofficial wears @goddivafashion#stephxgoddiva @amschela #avamariabag @fitbituk_ireland #versa @baublebar @zara @officeshoes #SS19 styled by @melofficialstyle lovely to spend time with @melofficialstyle and @bethanjuliff beautiful people missed @mandy_platt1 #resortcollection #yachtlife #jetwear #millionairehomes #selfridges #london #londonlife @londonlive @mediaeye #singersongwriter #influencer #fashion #fashionedit #worldwide #ad

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Keri was made redundant from her legal job in February 2016. She received £15,000 redundancy pay that her sons Ty, 30, and Corey, 21, encouraged her to invest in her own business.

It was a huge risk, which fortunately paid off.

She said: "When I was made redundant my sons said, ‘why don't you set up your own handbag brand? What have you got to lose?’"

Keri had a few lessons at the Bristol Sewing School to gain confidence.

She said: "I had used up all my redundancy pay on materials, packaging and photo shoot expenses such as stylists and photographers and I knew I might just lose it all on a dream.

"But I did not want to spend the rest of my life thinking what could have happened.

"I knew I was taking a risk and on the day I launched I had 86p in my bank account. I just hid under the covers in bed and prayed."

Wihin hours Keri made her first sale [where did she sell them?] and in the first year her business made her just under £89,000.

When I was made redundant my sons said, ‘why don't you set up your own handbag brand?'

Within three months of launching, her bags were spotted by TV presenter Naoimi Isted, who wore two of them for London Fashion Week.

Two years in to the business her turnover is now £160,000 and she has featured in several top fashion magazines including Vanity Fair.

The Pink Effect: @naomikisted and the Rene Shoulder Bag #limitededition . . . . . . . . #amschela#emergingdesigner#emergingdesigners#ootdmagazine#fblogger#outfit#fashionigers#fashiondaily#fashiondiaries#inspiration#mystyle#mylook#instastyle#fashiongram#stylehunter#minimal#minimalstyle#minimalove#fashioninspo#whatiwore#wiw#outfitofday#ootd#onlineshopping#redcarpet#handbags#influencer

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The NARLINA midi tote sitting pretty with @laylaypowellPhotocred @eglevasi_Stylist @vixellis MUA @sealviaglows . . . . . . . . .

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Keri says she could not afford the expense of studying her craft professionally and so is mainly self-taught but she thinks that has actually helped her to put more of her own passion and personality in to her product.

She said: "My naivety has actually helped me as I am not a trained designer and so I don't do lots of research about measurements of straps and so on – I just sketch.

My naivety has actually helped me as I am not a trained designer

“I want to make affordable bags for the ordinary woman with a designer look and feel.

"It has been a steep learning curve but I wouldn't change it for the world.

"You go to university and train for a craft but sometimes you realise you should be doing something else.

"Sometimes, like being made redundant, something happens where you are forced to do that switch."

She added: "At first it was just wishful thinking in my kitchen. Then when I began I was making my bags in a small room in my house. Now I outsource as demand is high.

"I have made lots of sacrifices and sometimes I feel lost but you have to find your passion and then you know what you want to do.

Bag it up: Keri's tips for success

  1. Entrepreneurship is not easy by any means, be prepared for pitfalls and disappointments along the way that only  self discipline and determination will get you through.
  2. Find something you actually like to do, that you would still do even if you were not going to be paid. That, I think is your passion. Passion breeds success.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. The best entrepreneurs also have great support teams. This can be either industry support or at the very beginning, family and friends.
  4. Research your chosen industry area, if you can reach out to others in the market for useful information, don't be shy!  Be prepared to do a lot of the groundwork yourself. You have to be willing to literally risk it all.
  5. Stay true to your vision of your brand/entrepreneurial venture, do not be put off by other competitors are doing and most of all have fun.

    "In my forties it was hard to go back to square one and without losing my job I would probably have just stayed in it and dealt with it being mundane.

    "It feels like I am on a train unwittingly. But it has been absolutely incredible and it was definitely worth the risk."

    Last week, we spoke to Apprentice runner-up Camilla Ainsworth, who invested her last £46 in nut milk and is now set to make £500,000.

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