Charlotte Pearl co-founder and desginer of Pink Lining talks to us about juggling family life
Tuesday, 19 April 2016 | Mummy and Little Me
Hi, my name is Charlotte Pearl and I’m the designer behind and co-founder of Pink Lining, an award winning family lifestyle accessories business.
As a mother of 4, the youngest being only just two years old I know only too well the highs and the lows of juggling family life and my own business and yet my family is the inspiration for our products- I truly design for my own family and therefore hopefully others too.
Originally I designed and made fashion bags, showing at London Fashion Week and selling through stores such as Liberty, Harrods, Le Bon Marche, henri bendel, Bloomingdales and so on – I was overjoyed when I discovered that I was pregnant but my first experience of the rather precarious juggling act of balancing ensuing family life with running my business ocurred before she had even entered the world. 10 days overdue I found myself in st marys Paddington for my induction appointment. Being ever so slightly headstrong and rather inexperienced in giving birth I decided that I could walk from St marys Paddington to the local post office to post a bag to a customer …after having had my waters broken….Lets just say that I didn’t make it to the front of the queue before I realised that children come first and Amelia arrived 3 ¾ hours later thankfully back in the hospital. so the question how did motherhood impact my business – well, it actually BECAME my business…they say this is getting to plan B…in my case B was for Baby
Even though it would be a changing bag, I thought for the first time in ages, I’d be able to buy someone else’s bag – how wrong was I! It sounds like a cliché but genuinely 12 years ago before my first arrived, there weren’t the proliferation of bags we have for mothers today – so I made one, and it became our best seller and we morphed from a fashion accessories business, into a family brand. And thus the business has sprung up, evolved and grown alongside my family.
Family has and always will come first for me – even though that means working late into the night and early in the morning; but I wouldn’t have it any other way – together with my husband Rufus who runs the finance side of things (I spend, he says stop spending- it works well!) we run Pink Lining. A family business for us really means all six of us…in fact seven if you include the dog who appears in most of our brochures! It also means that although I often work crazy hours I can for the most part adapt my hours so I can be there for the important occasions such as school plays and netball or football matches. Also I think it’s exciting and educational for the children to witness the process of running one’s own business- allowing them to feel and actually be part of it- they obviously test out the childrens’ bags, give advice on their favourite themes, colours, but also love sitting alongside me coming up with their own fabric designs, some rather outlandish ideas for magic bags which I may pare down a little (a lot), but also come with us to trade shows (albeit this was much easier with just one baby girl in the beginning but I still take them to see how it works- just for shorter stints!) to meet the manufacturers, buyers, press. Even the company name Pink lining stems from childhood & family- but from when I was little- stories my mother would weave about a make believe land called Pink clod and the belief that every cloud has a silver lining, which she now recounts to her grandchildren- my children.
So a typical day for me really doesn’t happen- there are so many facets to running one’s own business- I am responsible for the creative side of the business but I also love overseeing the strategy for marketing and Rufus and I manage the business strategy in general. Our office is literally a 10 minute walk from our house which is extremely helpful in as much that I can pop back to pick up the children or go for a meeting very quickly, but more often than not I work at very anti-social hours in order to stay on top of things or just because that is when inspiration hits!
Everyone talks about juggling when referring to being a mother and running one’s own business, but the old adage is true! However, it is the reasons for the juggling that are the inspiration in the first place!! My children play such an important part in the company, not just as road testers for the product, but helpers in every way; from spotting the bags out and about- we all still get very excited, to charming buyers as new babies when they were too little to leave with someone else to watch them, to my 11 year old daughter filming and editing our latest video for a promotion we are running. Last easter we all went on a 5 ½ weeks trip to see our suppliers in China, distributors in Seoul and new partners in Australia…all four children in tow. Work for me really is a family adventure and along the way I often discover what extra bag features are needed- especially for long haul travel with 4 children in tow!