Colour, creativity and craftsmanship have long been held in high esteem by Kiki and her family. Kiki is a fifth generation jeweller and the only woman in that line, igniting in her an ambition to share the joy jewellery can bring, and how a little colour can elevate the every day. Worn by the British Royal Family, Kiki’s jewellery is known and loved on the global luxury stage.
Tell us about your childhood and growing up in London.
I was brought up in Chelsea in the 60s when it was evolving from a village to a place filled with hippy madness. I was lucky - I had an incredibly happy childhood. We weren’t spoilt at all. If you needed a new dressing gown you had to wait for Christmas. My father was a jeweller, so I used to go see him at his store off Bond Street often.
What moved you to start your eponymous jewellery brand?
I am a fifth-generation jeweller, but that is not what made me start my jewellery business. I was once asked to design some modern jewellery for a friend of mine who had an antique jewellery business. I had never designed anything before in my life, so it was a bit of a shock when the products I designed were so well received!
What were some of the early lessons you learnt about running a business?
Never worry about making a mistake because you always learn from them. Be disciplined and be available for your clients - nobody is interested in your answering machine! It’s important to be polite and respectful to your suppliers and your team. Relationships are important and they can be long-lasting and brilliantly beneficial. I have worked with four of my suppliers for 38 years.
Run us through a typical day at work.
I walk to work, which is 40 minutes and brisk, listening to music and the occasional podcast. (My current favourite is Fort’s On Food where Matthew interviews people like Tom Parker Bowles and Heston Blumenthal on food.) I turn on my computer to see the blizzard of emails. The day usually entails working on designs, meetings with the team and making decisions every 5 minutes. I am usually out most nights in the week doing a mixture of socialising and work, speaking on panels and at various business events.
What have been some career highlights so far?
Building a global luxury brand on my own has been the most challenging but enriching and extraordinary experience. I love seeing my pieces being worn by so many incredible, stylish women, from mothers and daughters to business leaders and even members of the royal family.
What piece of career advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?Start your business in your 20s when you have a lot of energy and time to focus on expanding it. Making mistakes in your 20s is forgivable! Be prepared to be patient.
What is your go to workwear style?
I love dresses and trousers - I never wear skirts. In deep winter I tend to wear black with a really colourful pair of earrings. Because I get very cold, I have always got plenty of cashmere jumpers to layer too.
Like us, you dress women for work and the weekend. How do you like to spend your weekends?
By Friday night I am exhausted, and I tend to have supper with friends or see my children who are in their late 20s. During the day I go for long walks and cook, because I don’t have time during the week.
How have you mastered a good work-life balance?
I think it’s really important when you get home to switch off for a at least 3-4 hours. If you then have to go back and work for half an hour or so to clear emails it’s OK because you have had a break. Your home is your home and how people can work from home and keep sane I don’t understand!
How did you juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship during the early years of running your business?It was definitely hard with small children and there was a lot of juggling. I was lucky because I had a wonderful, very supportive Mother. I never left the house before the children in the morning, and I always made sure I got back by 6pm, so they saw me at home every day.
Lastly, what is your key piece of advice for other women in business?
You need some talent, a good work ethic, a sense of humour and a bit of luck, and don’t be afraid of your mistakes! A good sense of humour will always lighten your day. If my team haven’t laughed out loud twice a day, I am not doing my job properly.
Kiki wears our Connaught Navy Boucle Jacket, £198
and our Beaulieu Ivory Silk Shirt, £148
Photographer: Olivia Bossert
Location: St James, London
Accessories: Kiki McDonough