I’m pleased to finally come back with the next instalment of my Create & Inspire feature! This interview and shoot is with none other than Charlotte from Charlotte Elizabeth. Every once in a while you can come across someone who has defied all odds to get past set-backs in life and become an inspiration to all and Charlotte is a prime example of this. I can’t believe that Charlotte and I only met for the first time to shoot this feature. We’ve been following each other online for quite a few years now. I first came across Charlotte’s brand via my friends Olivia and Megs.
When I first read Charlotte’s story, I was completely amazed by what she’d gone through at such a young age. But Charlotte being the incredibly driven young woman she is had the vision for the perfect handbag, which she describes as her light-bulb moment. A handbag for all generations that she, her sister, Mum and Grandmother could wear. At that point she knew nothing was going to stop her from making that vision become a reality. It was her sister who spotted a magazine article from the Princes Trust saying that they could help small business owners get established which gave her the push to put her vision into action. As Charlotte’s health began to improve she applied for the Princes Trust enterprise program which solidified her vision for her brand.
She’s now 23, and it’s been amazing to follow her journey online and all the more amazing to meet her in person, hear her stories and see how passionate she is about what she’s creating and doing. You may have seen that none other than the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle carried ‘The Bloomsbury’ bag back in March in the lead up to her wedding. Since that day Charlotte knew things were going to change. It’s such an exciting and pivotal point for her brand to grow and adapt to the out-pour of love for her bags. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for ‘Charlotte Elizabeth‘ and I couldn’t be more inspired and in awe of Charlotte’s story and making her dream and vision into a reality. Lets dive into the questions.
What was your dream job when you were a kid?
I had many dreams when I was a child. I believe I’ve never been set on just one job, which is why I flitted from dreams of becoming a vet, then a pop star (S Club 7 and The Spice Girls definitely inspired this), and at one point a chef (specific to Italian food only…)!
When did you decide to run your own business?
Starting my own business all happened rather naturally. I was very unwell after a heart operation aged sixteen and found it challenging to secure a job, which would fit around my mental and physical health requirements. After a brief bout of running an online fashion business – selling Topshop outlet stock – I got a buzz of the online retail world. Charlotte Elizabeth was first and foremost created to provide me with a sense of purpose, but to also give others a sense of inspiration, secure jobs, and ultimately – make customers days that much better.
What’s your favourite thing about running Charlotte Elizabeth?
The community which we’re building, the people that we’re helping, those we are inspiring and those we are supporting.
What do you wish you could tell your former self when your business was starting out?
Always go with your gut – every single time!
What was your first business highlight where you felt proud of what you’d achieved?
Ms. Meghan Markle wearing my Chestnut Bloomsbury will always be the standout moment, where I finally took a step back to feel proud of what I’d achieved, and how I’d never given up against all odds to get there.
Who inspires you creatively?
I get my inspiration from nature, classic cars and quintessentially British objects. Humans who inspire me are those who go against the grain and create something remarkable, often through a challenging time.
What was the process from having the idea of starting a handbag brand to creating it?
I first had the image of The Bloomsbury pop into my head at the end of 2013, I then went along to The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Course in the Spring of 2014, where I learnt valuable business skills and later gained a £3000 loan and two years of free business mentoring. The loan allowed me to purchase my first batch of Bloomsbury’s and the mentoring encouraged me with support of both personal and professional growth. A couple of weeks after the course I became paralysed, until this moment I hadn’t drawn The Bloomsbury, but it was a dream I wouldn’t give up on, and so through re-teaching myself how to draw, I created the first sketch of The Bloomsbury.
What lessons did you learn from having the idea to then holding the first bag made in your hands?
It can be hard for people to take you seriously in your dream when you don’t have a physical example of it. I learnt that persistence, commitment and belief in your idea are essential in order to keep going. If you believe in your dream enough then others will too, and that creates growth in many ways.
Your top tip for anyone who’s starting their own fashion/accessories brand?
Don’t get sidetracked to what others are doing. Stick to your own intentions and you will shine from this.
What’s on the horizon for Charlotte Elizabeth?
The sky’s the limit! Charlotte Elizabeth is expanding her leather goods line, all while becoming a lifestyle brand. I am VERY excited!
A massive thank you to Charlotte for taking part in my ‘Create & Inspire’ series. We had such a wonderful afternoon when we met up to shoot, it really felt like we’d known each other for years. Here’s to inspiring others and being courageous to achieve your dreams, no matter what might be in front of you.