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Karen Levi Borley

Female Founder Spotlight: Karen Levi Borley

8 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder

IWD Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Karen Levi Borley
IWD Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Karen Levi Borley

Karen Levi Borley studied Art History but has a special love of portrait paintings and what the clothes and jewellery tell us about how the sitter wants to be seen. Her career has led her to work in art, fashion and jewellery for names such as The Guggenheim, DeBeers, Mulberry, and the Design Council, finally going freelance when her husbands career tore the family away from London to the wilds of Scotland. She had fifteen years working as a freelance PR, marketeer and event organiser whilst raising children and then settled in Winchester – a prefect blend of urban living and countryside.

“I’ve always loved jewellery and its power for self expression, so in 2016 I packed up the kids and went to India to meet the small artisan workshop I now work with to realise Quince Jewellery Collection.” 

What would you love to share to encourage other women to start their own business?

Aim for the high levels of professionalism you have learnt in big business and challenge yourself to achieve equally high standards. Know that you will be ‘chief cook and bottle washer’. 

What are your top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success?

Be passionate about what you are doing. You can’t fake it. You must love what you do and believe in yourself, and your product.

Beware imposter syndrome. You can do it as well as anyone else!

Be really clear who your customer is. You can’t be everything to everyone, but integrity will shine through and the right people will love you for it.

Don’t get sidetracked! I so easily try to do what other people are doing or what I think people want and it can really easily fragment and dilute what you stand for.

Maybe because I’m a marketeer at heart, but I do think image and presentation are very important. People are buying a dream. Your product and presentation must feel lovely and special.

Who are the 5 women who inspire you the most?

Karen Anand

An old friend from university who has built her own businesses and seen great success through some hard times. She up-sticks and moved to India in her 20’s. It was her who introduced me to the artisans I now work with and I love my trips to India and travelling with her around the country.

Frida Khalo 

An amazingly strong woman in the face of adversity who also created great beauty.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

The first woman to qualify as a physician and surgeon – and of course a suffragist too.

Millie Borley

My mother died when I was very young and it is so wonderful to have a daughter. She will always tell it to me straight and gets me out of ‘muddle brain’ moments.

Glenda Bailey

Glenda is a down to earth Northern lass who was the first editor of British Marie Claire and has gone on to dizzy hight as a journalist, magazine editor and human rights activist. Her enthusiasm and commitment is infectious. 

Roger Saul

If I was allowed a man it would be Roger, the founder of Mulberry and my boss when I worked there. I learnt so much about striving for the best on a shoe string and never accepting second best.

What is your favourite saying/inspirational quote?

“Do as you would be done by” – Mary Wakefield, The Water Babies

I’m a strong believer that you should treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself.

“ 20% Inspiration and 80% Perspiration “ Thomas Edison 

There are debates about 1% or 20% but the point is however brilliant your idea, you have to work really hard to make a success. 

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