JLO wears her t-shirts and her range is stocked in Topshop. So, who is the woman behind Irish brand Charlotte's Love? Well we're here to chat with her!

Charlotte’s Love owner Charlotte Francis takes us through the highs and lows of owning her own fashion business and how not fitting into a structure is a good thing.

She’s in LOVE again And It Looks Beautifull On (LOVE)🌙

Posted by Charlottes Love on Monday, March 26, 2018

What is Charlotte’s Love, and can you tell us a little bit about it?

It’s a clothing brand that is Dublin based, Dublin owned, Dublin created. It’s a really positive way of living through the clothes. The items have a positive feel to them. I started Charlotte’s Love about two and a half years ago without a plan; it was literally a little project. There’s something personal in all this and I want to keep that personal touch.

Can you take us through the steps involved in making Charlotte’s Love what it is today?

I bought the 10 vintage dresses in Australia, photographed them, then put them on Facebook and sold from there. After they sold, I got more dresses, they sold and so on. I went to London to shop for pieces, but I decided that people wanted more than vintage, so I started making stuff with fabric; I got a white t-shirt, some tartan material and cut out a cross because it was the easiest thing I could do, and I made the headscarf to match. Then I made a different collection which had the same concept and it went so crazy that people were copying my designs. From there I rented a spare room in a salon, then I got a place in town, because it was more central and then I got the studio and started then making bigger collections.

Do you have any previous experience working in fashion and where do you get inspiration for our designs?

Zero! I’ve never had any experience in it. I’ve always wanted to better myself and gone with what I’ve felt. I love fabric and just did everything as it came to me. My own style is quite natural and basic, but life inspires me, that is my inspiration. My designs are fresh. I never see a product and go oh I want to make that; whatever I make, I make from my head.

What did you study in college?

Well I’m a tennis coach by profession, that’s what I went to college for. I was teaching tennis for years and then one day when I was talking about dance, someone suggested to me that I teach a class and then that started to kind of take over. The time was just right to leave tennis and start dancing so that’s what happened. It kind of highlights my whole purpose; you don’t have to stay in a box.

Is dance something you have always been involved in?

I’ve always danced, even when I was younger, but then I got into hip hop dancing when I was about 15 or 16 and I started to teach it then. I just danced with freedom and I teach it with a lot of freedom and I give my dancers the same.

How did the idea to blend the dancing and the clothing come about?

It just happened, at the start I didn’t want it to blend but then it just made sense, I suppose because for me it’s lifestyle and it’s everything that I do. In my dance studio, half of it is where we dance and the other half of it is where I make clothes. 

Could you give yourself a job title or is it impossible to put a label on it?

I basically just do everything, from creating to designing and then doing the business and promotional side of it too.

Does the fact that Charlotte’s Love is not a traditional 9-5 job, appeal to you?

The security of a 9-5 is nice but I just couldn’t do it. I love being out and active and being in one place for a day is something I’ve never done. I’ve always been self-employed. Everything I know is self-learned and I’m completely self-taught. Of course, it has its downsides, but its ups are just way better. I couldn’t have imagined it any other way.

Do you think social media played a big role in the success of Charlotte’s Love?

Yes, hugely. I started selling it online through Facebook and Instagram and it was amazing. Everything I put up the people of Dublin shared twice as much, social media has been a huge thing for us. The range will stay online but I want the studio to be a place where people can come just and feel what it’s all about and get involved.

What was the most challenge part of setting up the business?

The biggest challenge was cash flow; it’s definitely money. I had savings and basically, I just put every penny into Charlotte’s Love, that’s how it was. People make the mistake of thinking the bigger you get the more money you make, but it’s not like that. The bigger you get the more over heads you have and the more stock you need, so that can definitely be challenging.

What is the worst part of your job?

My least favorite part is the organization and the business side of it. I find that hard. It’s boring; it’s something that I’m not strong at. You’ve got to be organized and that can be quite hard because I’m doing everything for the business on top of my personal life. There’s no set days or hours, it’s just me!

What is the best part of your job?

When I’m walking down the street and I see people wearing Charlotte’s Love, it’s really special. I love meeting people, I love seeing the lift that Charlotte’s Love gives to people or when people tell me that I’ve inspired them to do something or set up a business.

What would you say has been your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement is probably just doing it, because I’ve faced a lot of fears and I’ve taken a lot of risks, so to just say ‘yeah I’m here and I’ve made a difference’ is great. And obviously just inspiring so many people is just magical.

If you were to do it all again, are there any changes you would make?

I can get carried away, so I used to make too many products and then I’d be left with bits and pieces. So now I pick a story, I create whatever items that I need to create and then go with that. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.

Fashion is obviously a difficult business to get into; do you have any advice for someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

Just go for it! My advice is you don’t have to follow any structure, any plan, just do it with love - that is so important. Face your fears, I think if I had followed or tried to copy someone else it just wouldn’t have worked. I was happy dancing, but there was something missing in my life, I know there was. This, I could never have dreamed of, I couldn’t have planned it.

What have you learned along the way?

The biggest thing I learned is to know my self-worth. A lot of people can take of advantage, so I had to learn that saying no is not a bad thing. And always stay humble. I’m the same Charlotte, obviously I’ve grown but I love the quote “stay humble but be aware of your value” and that’s what I abide by.

What are your goals and plans for Charlotte’s Love?

In the beginning there wasn’t one. Going forwards it is clearer, and I have goals for the business. The website is a huge one and then also I just want Charlotte’s Love to grow; I want it to go global, that’s a definite thing because there is so much positivity behind it and I want to showcase it.

* Originally published on U Magazine, follow them on Facebook, Instagram or sign up for their newsletter here.

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