Smart ideas: Kerry Katona has set up her own clothing boutique
Kerry Katona, former member of pop group Atomic Kitten, says the biggest money mistake she ever made was wasting thousands of pounds on drugs.
The 41- year-old, who has gone bankrupt twice, initially struggled to make ends meet when her work dried up during lockdown. But she has managed to turn her fortunes around and launched a collection of clothes online via website Kerry Boutique.
She spoke to Donna Ferguson from her home in Cheshire.
What did your parents teach you about money?
That I should never rely on anyone else for money. My mother was on benefits her whole life while I never knew my biological father. I was in and out of foster homes and refuges at a young age. So I would say my parents didn’t teach me a lot. But in spite of them, I learnt to be a grafter and from age 14 I’ve always worked and earned my own money.
Money was really tight when I was growing up. I remember one Christmas when I was nine and my mum and I had just been rehomed from a refuge. It was Christmas Day and we had no decorations or furniture. The people from the refuge knocked on the door with a bin bag of second-hand stuff. I still remember what was in it.
There was a can of beans, a can of tuna, some bread and milk – but also a soft, heart-shaped lavender pillow that you put in your clothes drawer, a brand new Batman game, a Connect 4 game with some of the coins missing and coloured paper.
I remember using the paper to make Christmas decorations and feeling so grateful for the items we received. That’s one of the reasons why I give a lot to charity now.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Of course I have. I’ve been bankrupt twice. But even during my bankruptcy days, my kids still enjoyed a good lifestyle in a nice house. The time I struggled most to make ends meet came during the first lockdown. Photo-shoots were cancelled. My TV work, everything, all stopped.
I’m aware that I’m blessed and privileged to do the job I do – and lockdown was a hard time for everybody. The majority of people were struggling. But like everybody else, I was living from day to day and had no money coming in. I couldn’t afford to pay the rent. Some days, I would worry about how I was going to feed my five kids. I had this 1960s jukebox which was a wedding present from my first husband Brian McFadden, worth around £16,000. I had to sell it for £1,900 to pay my rent which was £2,100 a month.
How did you turn your fortunes around?
I joined OnlyFans, a website where fans pay to subscribe to your page. I started off as a Page Three model when I was 16, so I created an OnlyFans page that is like an over-18s Instagram page. It has a lot of sexy pictures similar to stuff I’ve done before for magazines, but all new. It’s made me a millionaire again. My youngest daughters are back in private education, we live in an amazing home, and I’ve just bought a Lamborghini.
Have you ever been paid silly money?
Yes. I have been paid ridiculous amounts of money for photo-shoots. The highest fee I ever earned was for one with OK! Magazine in 2005. It lasted one day. They shot me in eight outfits and paid £100,000.
What was the best year of your financial life?
It was 2007. I was getting paid £365,000 a year doing adverts for food company Iceland. Plus I was earning money from photo-shoots, brand deals, my reality TV show and autobiography. I earned more than £1million that year.
What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?
The Lamborghini Urus that I have just bought. It’s neon green and it cost £250,000. Lamborghinis are so lovely to drive. It’s like driving on air, but with a massive roar.
What is your biggest money mistake?
Buying drugs. I stopped taking them 13 years ago, but I wasted thousands of pounds on them between the ages of 14 and 28. Maybe £20,000. I was buying for everybody else as well.
The best money decision you have made?
To use the money I have made from OnlyFans and invest it in myself and my companies. I set up a dating website called Marnii. I also invested in a company called Thrillz which allows you to buy personalised celebrity video messages. Plus, I set up my own clothing line, Kerry Boutique, and a fitness website called M-FIT. I’m an entrepreneur.
Green machine: Kerry’s £250,000 Lamborghini Urus
Do you save into a pension?
No. We are renting at the moment in Cheshire while we look for a home to buy nearby. That is my priority.
Do you invest directly in the stock market?
No. With what’s going on in the world right now, why would you want to invest in the stock market? Besides, I don’t want to take a risk on anybody else’s business. I prefer to invest in myself.
Do you own any property?
Not any more. I had several properties, but they all got taken off me when I was declared bankrupt. I am planning to buy a house that has a minimum of five bedrooms, but I haven’t found the right one yet.
What is the one little luxury you treat yourself to?
Getting my nails done. It costs £30 every three weeks. I also spend around £200 a month on massages because I get back pain.
If you were Chancellor what is the first thing you would do?
I would put a lot of money into helping children in the foster care system stay on track and get a better education. I would also provide more funding for refuges and organisations that help children who suffer from domestic violence and homelessness, and more support to one-parent families. I’d be giving money out left, right and centre.
Do you donate money to charity?
Yes. I donate to mental health charities, local refuges and charity shops.
What is your number one financial priority?
To keep a roof over my children’s head, to put food in their bellies and to create memories. It’s all well and good having money, but I have lived life on both sides of the coin. The one thing I’ve learnt is that your true riches are your memories. So that’s what I want to do with my money: have more opportunities to create more wonderful memories with my children.
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