A mother-of-two who launched her own bag range despite having no previous design experience has generated a turnover of £4 million since launching her business in 2011.
Charlotte Jamme, 47, from Milton Keynes, who lives with her children Amelia, 13, Mia, 12, and her husband Philippe, 54, was living in Vietnam when she came up with the idea of designing a handbag.
After struggling to find one that suited her needs, the mumtrepreneur set about creating a product which would work for her while regularly on the go with her daughters – and Mia Tui was born.
Growing the brand with no investment, Charlotte has since gone on to sell her award-winning bag range, which start at £5, on QVC shopping and her own website – and it has also been stocked in the likes of John Lewis and Jo-Jo Maman Bebe.
It was her husband Philippe’s job in the wine and spirits industry that took the couple to the Far East back in 2004.
‘I was living in Vietnam when I came up with the idea of making a travel bag – my two girls were three and four,’ said Charlotte. ‘I would travel alone with the two girls and could never find anything in my bag. Everything would sink to the bottom, and as the lining was generally black you could never find or see anything.’
She continued: ‘On a girl’s weekend away with all the kids we got talking on what would make the perfect travel bag – it had to have pockets and be large enough to find things. This then got my imagination running and I started to draw up some ideas.’
It was around April of 2010, that Charlotte designed her very first bag, which she named after her eldest daughter.
‘The Amelie is a large travel bag that actually allows you to find things inside,’ explained Charlotte. ‘I had a rough sketch on how I wanted the bag to look, and more importantly how the inside should look, and found a company that said they could make a prototype.’
‘But when the bag came back it was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. So I went to the local markets in Vietnam, looked at fabric, and bought a small quantity to make my sample.’
She continued: ‘My husband was making some promotional items for his company and put me in contact with a lady who could help me make my design. She took away my drawings and actually came back with a bag that looked like it could work.’
The family travelled back to the UK in the June 2010 and Charlotte found her bag made traveling easier. But the next challenge the mother-of-two faced was finding someone who could actually take the bag and make more than one.
‘I met someone called Van,’ said Charlotte. ‘She spoke English and understood what I wanted to achieve and said she would help me. So together we made our first 200 bags in a small room above a house, which I sold at expat fairs.’
But it wasn’t all plain sailing as Charlotte had the task of juggling her new business with looking after her children.