30th Oct 2015
We got the young designer on the phone to talk about her still in its infancy business, interning and Instragram.
You grew up in London and graduated from NYU in 2011 after studying literature and fine art there. How did you make the step from that to fashion designer?
I don’t really know. It started with an idea and it was my last year of college. I suddenly thought I don’t know if I necessarily want to be a writer, but I have this idea and I think it could be great. So I went for it, and the rest ii history. I didn’t actually have any technical or design background; my journey has been quite trial and error really.
Before you set your own label, you interned.
I interned at Topshop, at Vogue and at Charlotte Ronson. Charlotte Ronson was actually the last internship I had done before I graduated. Her label was much smaller back then, so it was great to be a part of a small business and see the runnings of that and I guess that’s what made me go for it.
And when you launched your label you were still in college. Who was your biggest supporter at that time?
My dad, and he still is. He’s a fellow entrepreneur. He also had his own business so I lean on him quite heavily for support.
You offer your products in real and faux fur. The fact you’re dealing with fur, does that attract controversy?
No. I think the fact we do offer everything in faux or real it does cater to both parties. We leave the choice up to the consumer.
When you made your first line, you sourced the hoods in the garment district in New York. Between designing, manufacturing and seeing people wear your brand – what’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I love seeing random people on the street wearing a piece. I’ll also lurk behind and take a photo if I can, in the least creepy way possible. And I guess the journey. I started it three years ago in my bedroom and now I have a small office with a team around me. That’s a really exciting thing to see – the growth.
You lived in Paris and New York. You’re based in London and travel the world selling your brand – what’s your favourite city and why?
My favourite city today is definitely Tokyo. I went there at the beginning of the year and that’s what inspired the current collection. It was such an amazing city and hard not to be inspired there. To date, that was my best travel experience and I can’t wait to go back.
With the financial side of fashion and running your own business, what’s the toughest part of that?
Realising I can’t sit at my desk and draw every day. There’s a lot of managing people, managing finance, managing a team, managing the stores, managing the stock, managing the website. It’s a whole 360-degree approach, but the good thing is that because I did start it myself and it was just me for so long, I’ve dipped into every jar, so I know all the aspects of the business really well.
If you could give another young designer, someone setting up their own company, any advice about dealing with all those aspects, what would it be?
Persevere and be patient. At the beginning, it’s really difficult to stay strong in the belief of your idea. Personally, I found it really difficult when I was starting out. I felt really isolated because I was in my apartment trying to think,”Oh maybe one day I can do this, maybe I should do that…”
Everyone around me was getting jobs and meeting work friends and it all just seemed really exciting and I felt left out. It’s important to stay strong in that sense and persevere if you believe in your idea.
You did bags last year for a capsule range and you also do hats – are there any other accessories you think Charlotte Simone will branch out into? Or are you going to keep the main focus on scarves?
I think the main focus will always be scarves, but I definitely think there is room to expand into other fluffy accessories. Our next capsule collection will be featuring a new accessory, which we haven’t done yet. I’m pretty excited about that.
I have no intention of becoming a womenswear brand. I think Charlotte Simone is to its core an accessories brand, and that’s what I love doing.
In one interview, you said that a lot of your sales come from Instagram. Do you have a strategy with what you post? What kind of images tend to get the best response?
I don’t really have a strategy as such. I think my approach to the Charlotte Simone Instagram is that it’s quite real, it is the day-to-day life of myself and our team and the office experience. The ups and the downs of having your own business in still snapshots. I think that’s what works well. Each image isn’t intensely glamourised. It’s is quite real. 40% of my sales have been driven through Instagram.
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