Business Name:  Katherena

Support received:  Start & Grow

Location:  Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

Website:  http://katherena.com/

Inspired by a degree in Fashion Promotion and Styling, and her father’s case manufacturing company, Katie Sykes, from Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, was driven to set up her own business designing bags and accessories.  Katherena was launched in December 2015 and the future is looking bright.

Offering stylish mini trunk bags and accessories to men and women, Katherena has finally come into fruition after a lot of hard work.

We spoke to Katie about how her business idea became a reality.

How did you get the idea to start your own business?

After I had finished University, I moved to London to work as a Stylist.  Soon followed the realisation that I was working six or seven days a week and not earning enough money to cover my rent.  So I decided to move back to Cambridgeshire and go it alone.

Just before I moved back home, I spoke to a friend working in Fashion PR and told her all about my bag idea.

She asked me to produce a sample for her so that she could take it to a music video shoot. I was over the moon, but had to make the first ever sample in just a few weeks!  I got it finished in time for the shoot, but it’s safe to say the design has changed significantly since.

How do you deal with the challenges that you encounter?

I’m a determined character; driven and motivated in all walks of life.  I see bad days as challenges and something which just push me even further.

I have nothing to lose, so therefore there is no worry of failing.

My main challenge to date just led me to find an even better solution.  Making bags in my Dad’s factory, I realised that, without having access to the correct tools, it was taking far too long to make each product.  This led me to source the perfect manufacturer in China.  I even travelled there to meet the supplier – it was an incredible experience.

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“I am excited about the future and, with continued support from Nwes through the Start & Grow programme, I hope to expand my team to one employee and an apprentice or intern to support the growth of my business.”

How did Nwes support you with your business start-up?

I’m the first to admit that I didn’t know where to begin when it came to a business start-up and writing a business plan.  After getting in contact with Nwes, I was put in touch with local Business Advisor, Harry Harris who guided me through the process of business plans and understanding the financials.

The prospect of the business plan was really overwhelming for me – I didn’t have a clue where to start.  Without the help and templates from Nwes, I would have really struggled.

I also attended several Nwes free workshops to help me to understand financial forecasting, bookkeeping and marketing.

I could never have done it without the help of Nwes.  They have helped me to take the business from idea to action.

What has the highlight been?

My hard work has paid off, and the highlight has been seeing my designs and samples evolve.

I am so glad I decided to set up my business when I did, and I am extremely grateful for all the support I have received from Nwes along the way. The events are always really helpful and informal too.

What does the future hold for Katherena?

I am excited about the future and, with continued support from Nwes through the Start & Grow programme, I hope to expand my team to one employee and an apprentice or intern to support the growth of my business.

Do you have any advice for others considering starting up their own business?

If you have nothing to lose, what are you waiting for?

Starting a business is hard work and very time consuming, but if it is something you enjoy and believe in, it won’t feel like work. Speak to people about your idea – it’s amazing what feedback you can get.

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