In the Spotlight this week is Kerri-Lyn McKernan, manager of Hillmount Bangor. A married mum of one with two black cats, she lives in Newtownards.
What was your first job?
My work placement at 16 was in the clothing franchise Benetton in Newtownards. They kept me on covering weekends and holidays. After finishing my studies I asked to manage the Newtownards branch for two years before I moved on for more experience with the Arcadia Group.
What qualifications do you have?
I left school with 5 GCSEs, I then went on to study at BIFHE completing a Higher National Diploma which took two years. I then completed my ACFI (Associateship in clothing & Footwear Institute) at BIFHE which was a four year degree course.
What do you attribute your success to?
I always do what I love. At Hillmount Bangor the store is always changing for each different season. Currently we are coming into my favourite season, Christmas, when the store turns into a magical wonderland.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
Friendly, approachable and with a genuine interest in other people.
Who do you look up to in business?
Hillmount is a family run business which has been operating for over 85 years. I have managed Hillmount Bangor since it opened 10 years ago. I admire the hard work and 100% commitment that the Mercer family put into their business, they are involved tirelessly 24/7. I had my own business, a boutique called Coral on Belfast’s Lisburn Road, so I understand what it’s like to operate a business and I can fully appreciate the dedication that the Mercer family has towards Hillmount.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
You are only as good as the team you work with. I like to think I am an encouraging and compassionate leader with a good work ethic. I never ask someone to do what I wouldn’t do myself.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
I would make it easier for businesses to do business with suppliers in GB. There have been so many difficulties since Brexit.
What website or app could you not do without?
I love Pinterest, it’s great for inspirational quotes and merchandising ideas!
What was the last book you read?
“Songbirds“ by Christy Lefteri. I also loved her previous book “The Beekeeper of Aleppo”.
What car do you drive?
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
Both my grandads loved gardening. My dad’s father was a foreman at Dickson’s nursery in Newtownards and my mother’s father worked there at age 17 before going off to serve in the War. I love the fact after working with clothes for so long that I am keeping with family tradition and managing a family owned garden lifestyle business.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
I love walks anywhere in nature, I do spend a lot of time at Killynether Country Park. I also train with a great group of ladies in Ards Boxing Club, mainly to keep fit. It’s hard work but great fun.