Alumna Kerry Smith, who graduated from Kent in 2010 with a BA (Hons) in Classical & Archaeological Studies, has recently launched a plus-sized fashion boutique in the Kent seaside town of Broadstairs.
Kerry studied Classical Civilisation for a number of years, but was unsure of what career path she wanted to pursue. After graduating from Kent, she obtained a PGCE in 2012 from Canterbury Christ Church University, but soon realised that teaching was not for her, and decided to set up her own clothing business, Kerry’s Boutique.
‘While I was a student, I worked part-time in plus-size retail’ says Kerry. ‘As a young plus-sized girl, I realised that most of the clothes my size were frumpy, old fashioned and shapeless. I decided to open a boutique store which welcomed the curvier figure and gave women a choice of style, which the big name brands seemed to have neglected. I had always loved working in retail, but I never had the chance to make any creative decisions or have any input in merchandising and buying.’
Kerry’s parents have always been self-employed, and have owned a variety of different businesses over the years. ‘They have always encouraged me to do something I am passionate about, so I have always known that starting my own business was a viable option and something to consider’.
It took just under a year to locate and renovate her new business premises in Broadstairs. During this time, Kerry researched the latest fashion trends, and made contact with overseas suppliers. ‘I had always been a keen “fashionista”, and grew up with my own sense of style while still adopting an appreciation for the major fashion trends, so I had a clear vision in mind’ says Kerry.
Her ultimate goal is for the business to eventually expand, and to open up additional stores. Her advice to anyone who would like to start their own business is to make sure that you do something that you are passionate about. ‘If you really love what you’re doing, and have a clear idea of how your business will work, then the sky is the limit. If you put everything you have into your business, it doesn’t feel like work because you’re doing what you love.’
‘The best piece of advice I’ve been given is to just go for it’ says Kerry. ‘Starting your own business can be extremely daunting, because you don’t have the security that comes with employment, but if you have a solid business plan and a clear vision of what you want your business to be, then it’s worth the risk. Otherwise, you’ll never know what could have been.’