Day in the life of indie handbag brand, Gweniss

Based in Glasgow and manufactured in Liverpool, Gweniss handbags are the hottest new indie handbag brand we cannot get enough of. With quality leather craftmanship and cost per wear at the heart of the brand, Gweniss want your bag to evolve with you. Once you choose your arm candy, each style can be switched up with one of their interchangable straps. But as a new brand, where did they start? How are their bags being featured on top blogs around the country and most importantly, how did two women make it all happen?! We asked the brains behind the business, Caitlin and Kat McBride to give us a glimpse of what it’s like to wear all the hats, or handbags as the case may be! This is a day in the life of Gweniss.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

Kat: Well, I’m Kat MacBride and I am half of a duo that run handbag brand Gweniss – we do everything from the design, to the marketing, PR, events, stock management – apart from distribution and manufacturing really! I’m Glasgow born and raised so pretty pleased to be able to work on a project such as this in my home city.
Caitlin: Hello, I’m Caitlin - the other half of team Gweniss. I work closely with Kat on all things marketing, design and PR. I’m originally from Aberdeen but made the move to Glasgow last summer.

How did you get into this business?

Kat: I studied both Fashion Design & Manufacturing and Marketing at college and then Strathclyde University, knowing that I always wanted to work in the fashion industry but wanted a general Marketing degree to fall back on just in case. I worked in retail as a Visual Merchandiser for many years and then worked some Marketing & Events Coordinator roles, finally starting project Gweniss last year.
Caitlin: I studied PR and Marketing at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, which I loved! After university, I started working in PR and had the opportunity to work with lots of exciting, creative brands and find my flair for creative marketing.

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What's been your general career path?

Kat: All the jobs I’ve ever had have been in fashion or another creative industry, as that’s always been my main goal. The trend of the last couple of years has been that I tend to not have a defined role in a business but am more of a general all rounder, helping with marketing, PR, business development, design etc – this has its perks as you get loads of experience and learn to handle a lot of responsibility but can at times be pretty demanding. I like being really busy so it suits my character well.
Caitlin: While at university, I was keen to get as much work experience as possible as although a university degree is beneficial you definitely learn the tricks of the trade through hands-on experience. This helped me land roles in PR and marketing agencies and eventually find my way to Glasgow

If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?

Kat: I’ve always said that if I were to go back to Uni/College to study anything it would be web development. I already know some basic coding but would love to know more. I also love that there’s always a solution in web development – I’m a total geek at heart so stuff like this just excites me.
Caitlin: I would open a café. Coffee and cake are two of my favourite things, so it just makes sense.

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Do you have a life motto / mantra?

Kat: Not really but I try not to dwell on the negative and turn negatives into positives whenever possible. I’m naturally quite a pessimist so at first this was hard for me, I’m sure my colleagues will tell you I still struggle with it! – but it really does greatly improve your quality of life by thinking in this way.
Caitlin: Stay sassy.

Take us through a typical day. What time do you get up at?

Kat: I usually get up about 6.45am, get ready and drive to work for 8.30am. The first part of my day always starts the same – checking reports on sales from last night, checking our Adwords/Merchant Centre accounts, Instagram and emails. Each day varies depending on the workload but I’m usually glued to a computer or my phone all day. We leave about 5 and I hit the gym for an hour/hour and a half most days. My routine is pretty strict but I really like it and I think it keeps me sane.
Caitlin: I set my alarm for 6.40am and usually drag myself out of bed at 7.15am (definitely not a morning person). I get the subway to work and start my day off with getting up to speed with emails and any activity on our social media accounts. I’m always on the lookout for bloggers and influencers who suit the Gweniss brand and Instagram is a big player for this. After work, I’ll head to the gym or binge on Netflix.

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How do you keep yourself organised?

Kat: Trello!! The free project management app – I love it. I’m sure most people already use it/have heard of it but it really is a god-send. I’ve always been more inclined to physically writing stuff down in diaries, notepads etc but this has changed my opinion and encouraged me to go paperless as much as possible.
Caitlin: I am the Queen of to-do lists.

Do you have an idol?

Kat: Not an idol as such but I really love the fashion blogger/entrepreneur Danielle Bernstein from We Wore What. Her style is amazing, my go-to inspiration for when I don’t know what to wear. She also is a total boss having started two of her own fashion brands and still works with a fairly small team of totally dedicated, hardworking people. That’s the kind of work environment I want to have for Gweniss.
Caitlin: I have a serious ‘business-crush’ on Karren Brady.

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How do you keep yourself going through a hump day?

Kat: Caitlin’s in charge of the office playlist and is pretty good at keeping motivation up with good tunes. We also both really like true crime podcasts so listening to or discussing one of them helps perk us up during a hump day. Just going about the office and chatting to your colleagues helps perk up my mood a lot – we work with a really great bunch of people.
Caitlin: Coffee. Always coffee. Also, yes, I’m currently perfecting my Spotify playlist which keeps us going through the day.

Biggest misconception about the job you do?

Kat: The glamour!! I don’t know how many people I have spoken to that think working in marketing/brand development especially in the fashion industry is all networking at swanky parties and ordering fancy lunches into meetings – it’s usually pretty boring, especially when you’re stuck on Adwords for hours on end setting up correct tracking for PPC ads or something!
Caitlin: People think we just sit and scroll through Facebook all day. Social media plays a big role in building our brand but you need to understand how to utilise it.

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How do you wind down?

Kat: During the week: the gym. It’s the best cure for a bad day at work. At the weekend, I love going out for dinner or drinks with my friends or boyfriend.
Caitlin: Wine helps. Also, anything involving food and I’m there.

What's your favourite thing about what you do?

Kat: My favourite thing about what I do is that you get out of it what you put in. We’re pretty much self-managed so it’s nice to see and feel the benefits of your hard work and know that you created this. I also have wanted to be a designer since I was a little kid so to have two bags I designed on the market and being the two best sellers of the brand is pretty special.
Caitlin: Getting such awesome feedback from our customers and the people we work with has been amazing! We work so hard on what we do so, it makes it all totally worthwhile.

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Any advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Kat: Don’t be disheartened at paying your dues down at the bottom of the career ladder at the beginning, it is a hard slog but well worth it. Also interviews and rejection – they suck but keep pushing through and don’t give up.
Caitlin: Definitely look at getting as much experience as you can, there is so much to learn so always try and stay ahead of the curb.

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Sheri Scott, also known as the orange hair and glasses behind leading Scottish based fashion and lifestyle blog, Forever Yours Betty.
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