Kerry-Ann, whose husband is serving in the Queen’s Royal Hussars, set up her own business after struggling to find culturally diverse toys for her daughter Gabby.
Gabby’s World Dolls sells a range of dolls specifically catered to ethnic minority girls from a number of household brands including Barbie, Disney and Baby Alive.
The company’s founding principle is encouraging diversity and equality through play; where values, social norms are learnt and reinforced.
The lack of ethnic toys in the UK inspired Kerry as she believes this is detrimental to children from ethnic minorities, something which must be addressed.
Gabby’s World has also given Kerry-Ann a fulfilling and exciting career that revolves around her daughter, and fits in around her life as an army wife.
She said: “I found it really difficult to source culturally relevant toys for my daughter that would reinforce what is taught at home, such as beauty does look like her, having a positive self-image, which is easily reinforced by playing with dolls that share her ethnicity.
“The lack of representation of her racial profile where toys are concerned spurned my desire to start a business that would not only help her but other children to accept and embrace their differences from childhood.”
Launching any business isn’t an easy task, and like most other budding entrepreneurs, Kerry knew she would need to seek the advice of professionals to help make the dream a reality.
This led to Kerry approaching X-Forces, a business support programme supporting ex-forces and their families to start up businesses by providing them with advice, loans and mentoring.
“X-Forces helped provide assistance with the business plan, which was the first stage in securing the start-up loan,” said Kerry.
“The assigned mentorship is also wonderful to have. I am able to bounce ideas of an experienced business person and that does give me the confidence to act once a decision has been reached.
“I am also appreciative that I can reach out to the X-Forces team for any other issue I might have – I never got the impression of ‘we got you the loan and that’s where it ends.’ They are an amazing supportive group of individuals.”
Since working alongside her business advisor, Sharda, Kerry has found the ongoing support that X-Forces can provide is a helping hand when needed. She is now planning to expand her business by manufacturing her own line of dolls to include toys for boys and babies.
Asked what advice she would give to an aspiring entrepreneur looking to get into business, she added: “Whatever you are pursuing, one must have an innate passion and strongly believe in the concept of the business.
“This is so to ensure that when obstacles do come your way, you will hold steadfast and approach those obstacles with the resolution that failure isn’t an option and just see challenges and closed doors as obstacles that will be overcome. Get up, brush off the disappointment and learn from the experience and move forward.”
Kerry-Ann presented at an X-Forces networking event in September 2016. Watch her video here: https://vimeo.com/190201381