Say hi to the handbag business that’s fully produced in the UK

The talented Karan Rai, founder of Karan Rai London, explains how a love of being creative combined with a passion for ecommerce, drove her to make a dream, reality.

It’s important to celebrate the little wins along the way.


Tell us what your business is/what your business offers?

We’re a handbag business which designs, purchases and produces all the elements of the handbag in London, UK.  

What was it that inspired you to set-up your own business?

I have always loved being creative. Having spent ten years in the fashion industry I knew I wanted to combine my passion for beautiful things with e-commerce. I felt I had enough experience to become my own boss and started looking for the perfect accessory to sell a quality handbag. When I couldn’t find one that ticked all the boxes, I set about creating my own, made in London, leather handbag. 

Do you think an Entrepreneur ISA and a Small Business Savings Allowance would have helped aid your company’s growth in the early stages?

Absolutely! You need support and funding at all stages but most importantly the early stages when you’re testing the market. My dad loaned me the money for a large manufacturing bill when I started making my first few samples. I didn’t have the financial mindset to plan, save and then spend. I’m in the minority that had financial support from my family but not everyone has that. Everyone should have the opportunity to make their dreams come true regardless of their circumstances. An Entrepreneur is more than financial support; it’s giving someone the faith to try.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced so far?

As a new fashion business building the brand has been the biggest challenge. Finding the capital to market, promote and gain press around the brand has been a struggle. Ordinarily, you need a marketing budget for this but producing a bespoke handbag in London is costly and tends to cut into the marketing budget! This challenge has forced us to think outside the box. It’s been one of the best journeys for me and the business, seeing our handbags in magazines and with social media influencers through sheer hard work. Building the brand is going to be a slow, gradual conversation between us and new customers and a challenge we’re winning one step at a time.

 What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Just start! Once you’ve got an idea create the minimum viable product or service you can to start testing it. Listen to the reaction you get and see if anyone will pay you for your product or service. Once you’re off the starting block, the real work begins. Oh, and building a successful business is going to take a lot longer then you imagine, so keep your head down and just grind.

What is your proudest achievement to date as a company?

It’s important to celebrate the little wins along the way. My proudest moment would have to be when I paid my Dad back for that initial loan he gave me to pay the handbag manufacturers. It made me happy to know he trusted me and saw the business eventually finding its feet, plus he was happy to get his money back. I would have been in a pickle without him and the experience taught me to get my finances in order.

Karan Rai is the founder of Karan Rai London.

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