High50 Entrepreneur Mary Jardine on starting her own handbag business in her fifties

Mary Jardine talks about starting her own business in her fifties, her inspiration, celebrity clients, and tips for start-ups.

What inspired you to start a business in your fifties?

“It came from my family.  I felt I had supported them over the years (my husband is a serial entrepreneur) and it was now time for my own life challenge.  I no longer wished to be a spectator but wanted to actually take part.  

Jardine of London small Red
The small “Queen’ bag in red, made from the softest calf leather
There are so many handbags out there what makes yours special?

“With the rise of fast fashion and its cheap materials and unethical labour, upholding individuality is a growing challenge.  I need to offer a very strong USP if I wish to gain any kind of market share at all.  Obvious branding has long appeared on virtually all big designer handbags but along with many other women, this overt branding repeatedly turns me away.  Jardine of London is offering a luxury handbag brand that does not put overt branding on the outside of the bag.  

Did you have to raise money to get the business started, if so how?

“I thought about seeking funding at the start and did look into various loans/grants/competitions on offer, but eventually decided to self-fund the business myself – as I did not want the pressure of being answerable to an outsider during the delicate development stages of starting a new brand.

Who is your market?  

“Mainly our market is the discerning woman aged between 40 and 60, though some new products in the pipeline will also appeal to a younger demographic.   We’re also developing some entry point smaller luxury items – such as Jardine of London key rings and a make-up bag.

Mary Jardine New large navy 2
New large navy bag made from sumptuous goat-skin from a British tannery
Which celebrities buy your bags?

“We have supplied Emma Watson, Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike, Naomie Harris and Naomi Watts with our bags.  We would be delighted to see any celebrity wearing one of our bags.

What top 3 tips have you for starting a business in your 50s?

Clear your diary – you won’t be doing much socialising for a year or two! 

Make sure the friends you do see are supportive and not negative about your venture.  Constructive criticism is welcomed but not negativity around you which can kill your enthusiasm. 

 You will be working 7 days a week and will need plenty of sleep.   Try to keep a healthy lifestyle balance with your exercise and eating habits – you will need to have a sharp mind to stay focused. 

Are you enjoying working this hard in your 50s?

“Yes. 50 is definitely the new 40!  I have another 20 years in me yet – I have only just started.  It might be the biggest career challenge I have ever had but it certainly keeps the grey matter from fogging up.

Jardine of London is offering a 20% discount if you email Mary on  [email protected] quoting High50.