Of all the women and entrepreneurs we meet, few are cooler that the super stylish duo behind the Kings Road and Wandsworth fashion boutiques Katie & Jo, so when Jo herself agreed to give us an insight into how she makes it all work, we jumped at the chance. With a focus on family life, and a grounded approach to all she does there is clearly so much more to Jo than great fashion sense!!!
Tells us about what you do?
7 years ago, Katie Diment and I launched Katie & Jo, a beautiful clothing and accessories boutique in Parsons Green, and online business, offering a carefully selected mix of interesting brands from around the world. Katie & Jo is aimed at modern women of all ages who need easy to wear things but who also want to look stylish and feel good. We have since opened a second store in Wandsworth with the help of Katie Gibbs who came on board after covering me on Maternity Leave in 2012.
Where is home and who will we find there?
Home is Southfields, close to some of London’s best parks where our three children, Theadora (4), Chloe (2) and William (8 months) can run around. My husband Chris and I also love the outdoors so this area suits us well, and both shops are walking distance for me which is amazing.
What’s the best way you’ve found to balance family and a career?
Finding a good work-life balance can be challenging. I am fortunate that I have a very hands-on and supportive husband. He makes sure he is back in time to help me put the kids to bed most evenings, and will happily look after all three children at the weekend or on the occasional evening if I need to work. For me, it’s also essential to have a great nanny on the days that I work, so I feel confident in the knowledge that my children are safe and happy when I leave the house in the morning. Before having kids, Katie and I always worked at weekends and enjoyed the buzz particularly on Saturdays, however nowadays we try not to as we feel that family time at weekends is very precious. I prefer to get up a couple of hours of work in before the children wake up during the week.
What three items help you juggle everything?
- My i-phone. I would be lost without the diary and its daily reminders.
- My notebook. I’m obsessed with to-do lists and like to off load all my thoughts before I go to sleep.
- My i-phone charger. The battery in my phone only lasts half a day. The second half of the day would be a disaster without this!
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face?
Losing a sibling.
What do you most enjoy about your role at work?
I love both the buying and the selling side of the business. It gives me a great sense of pride when I see customers leaving the store with a Katie & Jo bag and a smile on their face.
Is there anything you struggle with and how do you deal with it?
I sometimes find myself feeling completely overwhelmed by all the moving parts in my life. To cope with this I try to prioritise my time and deal with one task at time in bite size chunks. I have learnt that being in the moment and staying focused on the task at hand, whether that’s playing with the children or working, is far more productive and enjoyable than trying to multi task.
How do you spend any precious me time you get?
Reading a good novel, or pottering around the beautiful shops, cafes, art galleries and markets in London’s villagey areas such as Broadway market, Primrose Hill and Dulwich Village.
If your planning a family holiday where would it be?
My husband and I both grew up in Scotland so have a strong connection with it. We love the west coast for its beautiful deserted beaches, the light and the seafood. The kids don’t feel the cold so will play for hours on the beach come rain or shine.
How do you switch off?
Countryside walks and exercise help me to switch off, and painting if I can find the time.
What exercise do you do?
My walk to work is about 40 minutes and is a great way to start the day. I also run, either around Wimbledon Park or Wandsworth Common and do yoga twice a week.
What are you wardrobe fail-safes?
At the weekend I live in my AG Stilt’s, usually rolled up with a pair of Stan smith trainers and a cool sweater, and always a Woolrich coat in the winter!
For work, it’s either a great pair of jeans, such as the Paige Margot’s, with a Boho top (I love PK Berry for their easy, well priced tops and RIXO for their fabulous prints), or a casual dress. I have a few Maison Scotch dresses in my wardrobe, which work well for day time and look great paired with a pair of Ash ankle boots and a leather jacket.
And accessories you couldn’t be without?
My Le Specs Paramount sunglasses. A good pair of sunnies is a great way to add a touch of glamour to any outfit, and my Katie & Jo pom pom key ring so I can always find my keys in the bottom of my bag.
Your hosting a dinner party – what’s on the menu?
Something I can make in advance so I can enjoy the company of my guests and not get stuck in the kitchen all evening.
If you’re going out where is your favourite spot?
Is there a woman you really admire?
I think Victoria Beckham is amazing. She has risen above endless criticism to achieve her dream in the fashion industry, has never reacted badly to media gossip and is a doting mother and wife.
What’s the next big thing in your life?
Right now I feel very happy with the way things are and want to enjoy that for a while. There are always small, positive changes we can make in our working and personal lives and hopefully these will prepare us if we decide to take on any more challenges in the future.
For more from Jo, and Katie, as well as the perfect one stop shop for an achingly stylish wardrobe, check out the girls’ store at www.katieandjo.com