Hello! Today on the Inspiration series, we have Charlotte Lloyd, the creative mind behind Charles of Lloyd. She creates the most colourful and quirky designs on home ware- and these vibrant patterns and tropical vibes can definitely brighten up any room! When I saw her website, I had to contact her to get some insight on her colourful process! She’s persistent and a real go-getter.
I like her distinctive pieces and more than that, I was just impressed by her whole outlook on finding inspiration, her can do attitude and her methodical routine- to create such a varied range of colours and patterns. Read on to hear what she has to say!
Please tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Charlotte Lloyd; I am the founder and designer behind ‘Charles of Lloyd’, which is a London based homeware brand. I am a self-taught textiles designer. In 2012, I left a career in fashion and licensing to pursue my love for pattern. I create fun, vibrant textiles prints that aim to raise a smile and project a positive approach to design.
A little insight on your company name ‘Charles of Lloyd’?
It’s a bit of a spin on my actual name and a nickname that had been thrown around in the past. Having a very British surname really helped to play on the formal nature of the brand name and give it a sense of heritage. It gives the impression there is a rich history as it almost sounds a bit regal, but in essence its sums up the history of my family history, journey and making.
I love your colourful creations on cushions and bags! Do you have a particular theme for each batch of design you dream up? Is it planned or more spontaneous?
Thank you! Well I am on the cusp of launching my second range and while I’m still learning where my comfort zone is in the design process, I don’t think the learning ever stops. My initial range was very off the cuff and around images and subjects that at the time were of interest. There were various designs that were so well received I have put a twist on them to carry them forward into the new line. The second range was more around tropical summer feel, based on the time of year it was launching to hit spring/summer trade shows.
They all begin with doodles and lots of magazine clipping to make colour pallets from. While I have only just launched the second range, I already have a plan around a colour palette of primary colours for the next range. I’d say a lot of the early planning is around colour rather then print, but in the excitement it’s easy to deviate!
What was the hardest (and easiest) part while starting your business?
For me, I was starting a business whilst learning a trade at the same time. I had a very real gut feeling that this was something I had to explore, but had to juggle this learning along side paid work to get to a point where it felt like a real possibility – rather then an experiment. I think research is key and you should feel confident in asking as many experienced people for pointers, help and suggestions as that can save you months.
The hardest part is to keep going. It can be very testing running a business. I’d advise surrounding yourself with the positive people in your life. I also read a lot of designer interviews that inspire me to keep going on things like design files, design sponge etc. They are priceless.
What makes you the happiest in your creative process?
When I get samples and fabric back. It’s like Christmas when you see your design become a real tangible thing. It’s always so nerve racking as well, but that’s what makes you feel alive and kicking right? Hearing that someone likes something you have made is always a lovely feeling too. It’s those little memos that really do keep you chipping away at it. I see Charles of Lloyd as a bit of a left field brand. It’s a bit bonkers and playful, so to know there are people that relate means it’s resonating with strangers. What’s not to love about that!
Could you give us a glimpse in a typical day at work?
-Wake up at 8 with a fair idea of my jobs list for the day having thought about it before bed. Scan my emails on my phone so I know of anything vital.
-Make a nice juice as we just got an exciting juicer (nerdy i know) or my boyfriend and I walk to ‘Expresso Hut’ on Chatsworth road. Best coffee going FYI!
-Mornings -10 – 1 – The days can be really varied from shooting new products for the website (to get the best morning light), fulfilling and packing orders, answering emails, giving comments on samples. Only yesterday, I got asked to look at making some bags for a wedding in LA, so my inbox often has some really fun surprise projects in store. I also just started trading on Not on the High Street so I am waiting to see how this will effect the admin element of my day.
-Have lunch around 1-2. I live just off the vibrant Chatsworth road in Hackney, so there are always great places to grab a snack or get supplies to cook at home. My boyfriend is the chef in our home so he tends to whip something fab up to keep us going as we both work from home.
-Afternoons can entail the more admin based stuff like – revising pricing, working on the website, researching or visiting new suppliers, trade shows, shops, or visiting workshops etc.
-Generally we finish up about 6/7 and try and consciously close the door on the studio. But it’s never that simple and can often be a late one. Some days I will try and fit in a swim or a coffee with a friend to break it up.
What qualities are needed to keep up and also enjoy running a creative business?
Perseverance definitely, you need a really strong mind to keep going. There will be lots of exciting little things that lift you up but they fade. You need focus to keep pushing through to the next big milestone. Passion is essential; as without that unconditional need to do what you are doing – it will be harder to keep going. Organisation is also key. Working with people requires the ability to make your interaction with them as easy and effortless as possible. Make peoples’ lives easy by being organised.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
I’ve been in London for 12 years now so I think a move to the seaside is in the works. I am also about to train as an upholsterer as an additional leg to my business. So in 2 years, I would hope to be running this arm of my practice – offering my fabrics across an array of beautiful vintage chairs and items.
What inspires you the most?
My inspiration in terms of designing fabrics really comes from all over the place: from exhibitions, photographs, magazine tear outs for colour palletes, charity shops for vintage fabrics and car boot finds. Its just about being open-minded every time you leave your front door and being equipped to document it whether it’s in notes, photographs or rubbings. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram but find this can be detrimental – as it can overwhelm as well.
I also absolutely dig all the amazing African church goers in East London. Every weekend, I see the most insanely beautiful fabrics and colour combinations. Head to toe pattern in every colour under the sun! It makes me feel the way I hope Charles of Lloyd makes people feel. I’d love to do a shoot one day with a selection of these women using COL fabrics. A lot of the fabric they wear is Vlisco – which is a Dutch printer with a rich history in producing these wax fabrics.
What tools do you work with to create your illustrations?
Various types of black ink pens, charcoal, paints and a good sketch book. I either import various marks, doodles and scans into photoshop to construct my prints in layers on screen or do some designing in Illustrator. I also do a bit of hand printing and this is mainly drawing directly onto tracing paper in individual layers, they are then exposed and built up directly onto fabrics using screen printing.
What present would you like to receive? (any occasion!)
Hmm, that’s a tough one! I don’t generally have items or things that I get hooked on and I’m pretty practical so if it’s got a use, thats always nice. The only thing I have wanted for years is a French Bulldog but that’s one pricey present. Once thing I always always love are scented candles. I burn them daily in our home and am a big fan of wood scented smells.
Thanks, Charlotte, for a little glimpse into your colourful world at Charles of Lloyd! Wishing you all the best ahead! -Aaria