Image courtesy of Katherine Karambelas
The Katherine Karambelas brand is a family affair. The namesake jewelry brand was brought to life by Katherine in the midst of raising her three daughters.What once was a one woman show, has grown to be staffed entirely by family. Katherine's pieces are both beautiful and bold at the same time. Customers who sport the line have been deemed KK It Girls and are unafraid to stand out from the crowd.
I met Katherine at an industry trade show a few years back (Social Sunday was also a vendor!) and was instantly struck by a unique necklace that I had to have. Spoiler Alert: I bought it. Not only is Katherine Karambelas jewelry gorgeous—think lots of stand out crystals and a whole lot of sparkle—but the woman behind the brand is a true gem as well. We chatted with Katherine to talk how she balances work and family, what it means to be an entrepreneur and her advice for other women in business.
Q. Can you give us a bit of background on the brand? How did you get your start?
K. I started the company quite organically, actually. My daughters were all in school and I realized that although being a stay at home was something I wanted to do, it was not going to be my calling. I had studied fashion design and merchandising in college and always felt that, that was the world I belonged to. So when the youngest of my three daughters went off to school, I began designing jewelry with Swarovski crystals and semi precious stones. I started selling the pieces I was wearing, and thus a new business was born!
Q. We know firsthand that the life of a entrepreneur means an ever changing schedule, but if you had to describe a typical day in your life, how would you?
K. I don’t know that any of my days are typical, but I’ll give it a try! Mornings start with a 6:30am wake up call, then off to our new office in Montreal which I love! A full day of meetings, emails, production and trying to keep my dog Charlie from biting the DHL delivery man, while he’s adjusting to life in our office. Most days find us running around downtown Montreal to prepare for the amazing events in our city or meeting with boutiques. There are also days that we travel for work and those days are another beast entirely.
Q. Katherine Karambelas is an entirely family-run company. How do you manage the balance between family and business?
K. This one is easy since it's is also the reason I love what I do! I am blessed enough to have my entire family work fo KK! They believe in my vision and passion as much as I do, and that is truly a priceless gift. I still have the typical mom duties—as my youngest Maria-Anna just finished high school, there are still school projects and activities to tend to and so this is where it gets challenging! However having my family to lean on has been essential to the success of both the company and our private lives.
Q. Can you share an aspect of your job that might be surprising to others?
K. Most people are so surprised when they find out that we actually do everything that is involved in our company. I have always been guilty of micromanaging and I think I have passed this down to my girls as well. There is no department or aspect of our business that we do not have complete control over.
Q. What is the most challenging aspect of owning your business? Alternatively, what is the most rewarding?
K. The biggest challenge is surprisingly also the most rewarding: we work all the time. Even when we rest, we work, so putting in some time for actual R&R is definitely challenging. On the flip side of that, the fact that we work so hard is what has made us successful and is the most rewarding!
Q. What is your current favorite piece of jewelry and why?
K. That is like asking me to choose a favorite child! I am currently loving the Birdie earrings, and I am having a love affair with the Delphine! But my favorite has not been created yet.
Q. You are a recipient of the 2018 Business Woman of the Year award by the Deka awards of Hellenic board of trade in Montreal and a true inspiration to our team at Social Sunday. What advice would you give to women who already own their own companies or have this same dream?
K. I wish someone told me when I started that it’s okay to build a business and a family at the same time. That sometimes your family will need you more and sometimes your business will be a priority and that it’s okay!! I started my company at a time when it wasn’t really acceptable for a woman to start a business, there was no #girlboss movement, and so every time I would travel or leave my children with a sitter it was criticized and frowned upon. I would tell any girl staring it’s okay. You can make your own rules! What is important is to give priority to the things that matter to you at any one time.