The first thing that attracted me to textiles and homeware brand Charles of Lloyd (COL) was the riotous use of colour. I’m a sucker for a bright pattern, and COL has these in spades whether as recognisable imagery (think blue kiwi fruit on a spotty orange background) or as abstract pattern.
Company founder-designer Charlotte Lloyd started her creative career in fashion - working with independent brands and licensing. However, she says the choice to focus on homeware rather than fashion when starting her own independent business was an active choice. As she puts it, she ‘needed to feel curious about something again’. She says, 'I had always loved textiles and print. The overall choice I actually made was to choose pattern as a focus rather than homeware alone. I had a good hard look around and knew I wanted more creativity in my world and something that did not limit me to just one product category. Pattern design and implementation was a medium that seemed to allow much more freedom - whether for homeware, lifestyle accessories or potentially fashion in the future, the themes and trends created have the potential to be applied to any medium.'
Charlotte launched her latest collection - The Factor 30 Range - at Pulse in 2014, which is where I first met her. The collection is bold and bright with a definite tropical undertone, repeating paint-brushed pineapple prints and an abundance of oranges and yellows. What intrigues me every time I meet someone with a creative independent business is how they manage to maintain firstly a sense of brand identity without saturating their stock with the same ideas, and how they keep up their creative inspiration, the momentum to create.
I ask Charlotte where she finds her inspiration. ‘If you asked me this question yearly it would change each time. I discover fabulous people daily that inspire me and influence my choices and path. This year I discovered the work of Sonia Delaunay through the Tate Modern expo and found it so awesome. I think the main motivator was seeing how a lady (especially of that era) really trusted her gut and explored so many different mediums. I would also say icons like Iris Apfel who is a NY style legend in her 90s. Again its more her attitude and approach to design and style that I found so captivating. Both of them really enforce how special staying curious is and to be comfortable with your own journey.
‘I think I am really drawn to inspiring attitudes at the moment rather than people's direct work. It's people’s stories and journeys that are really keeping me engaged in the early stages of my journey and business.’
And it is a journey. Well into her second year as an independent maker and business owner, Charlotte says it hasn’t always been easy - the leap of faith it takes to invest both financially and emotionally in something so personal can be daunting. But the rewards, however simple seeming, can be so great.
‘Money comes and goes in life but the joy of making things and creating is true sole food […] The most rewarding element has been when people simply buy things or leave nice comments. I don’t think there is anything more flattering than someone endorsing something you have made. It’s the interaction with customers at markets, in stores and through social media that really makes it so fulfilling!’
Last year saw COL trying out some of the growing number of designer—maker markets in and around London, a great way to meet fellow makers and discover new trends and techniques. But there’s plenty to keep Charlotte busy in 2016 - COL is continuing to thrive with new bricks and mortar stockists, as well as a potential women’s workwear capsule collection with a fellow designer. COL also has a collaboration with Swoon Editions being released any moment, with the company using one of the bright Factor 30 designs on a chair. And Charlotte herself is also trying her hand at upholstery, something that will only increase her creative potential. Her aim is to have Charles of Lloyd act as ‘an umbrella for lots of new avenues and to be producing things that get people pumped!’ We can't wait to see where her journey takes her.