Your Stories: From the beginning
In this mini series, we’re heading back in time to the original stories published. The first story, featuring Charlotte Clark, was published in November 2017.
On a sunny Friday morning I arrived at Charlotte's workshop in Wellington, and stepping inside I was impressed with the size of it. I firstly entered a considerably large showroom where all of Charlotte's products are displayed, ranging from cushions, mugs, prints, brooches and much more. From here I was lead through to the workshop which was an even larger space storing her stock on shelves, a workspace in the centre of the room and also a desk on one side for the non-creative but necessary admin related work that can't be neglected. If you carry on past this area, theres's another little room where the kiln's are stored, which are usually full of new products waiting to be finished and put on to display in the showroom or sold in Shop in the Square.
During my time spent with Charlotte I was able to get a glimpse into her making technique. While watching her apply humorous quotes on to the mugs, I was able to see how the use of transfers and kilns allowed Charlotte to work quickly, and as a result maximising her time while creating stock, freeing up even more time for her to concentrate on the variety of other products on offer.
Charlotte is aware of the importance of a strong and consistent brand, which is the reason why the ranges of products tie together so well. She knows her customer loves her homeware products, and this is the area that she has expanded a lot more recently. The products on offer include cups and saucers, tea and dinner sets, animals, ornaments, one-off pieces, as well as cushions and prints.
During and after studying Design and Applied Arts at university Charlotte has been proactive in getting her work out in the world and as a result creating the brand that she has today. She's taken part in many exhibitions, one of the most exciting ones being a travel exhibition which took her work on tour for 18 months. Alongside this, Charlotte gained experience of putting on her own exhibitions with her friend after starting her first business, Pretty Vacant with the help of the SPEED programme at the University of Wolverhampton.
"We used vacant shop units to put on exhibitions, and that was the first of that kind of pop-up shop in the Midlands"
Being unhappy in a part-time job gave Charlotte the push she needed to start her solo business selling designs for jewellery pieces, pendants and brooches. As a small business with lots of room to grow, Charlotte found that taking part in events allowed her to learn even more about running her business. Her past experiences of putting on pop-up shops then resulted in an opportunity to become the manager of Shop in the Square after being approached by the council.
"I thought that I could run something creative alongside my own business and that could be a better balance for me... that was three and a half years ago now."
Now that Charlotte's business has expanded out of her home and into a workshop she's able to think about ways she can grow her brand even more. One of the main but positive challenges she's facing is to figure out what her next step is. Charlotte says that she's going to continue to put herself out there, try new things and learn from any mistakes made along the way, and as everything she has done so far has enabled her to go from strength to strength I have no doubt that the Charlotte Clark brand has got an exciting future ahead.
Photographer: Yasmin Qureshi