Charlotte Pearl is the designer behind, and co-founder of Pink Lining, a multi award winning, international label specialising in the Mother & Baby market – Just recently they were over the moon to win brand of the year in the Little London Magazine awards as voted for by the public.
As a mother of 4, the youngest being only just one year old, I know only too well the highs and lows of juggling family life and my own business. And yet my family is the inspiration for our Pink Lining products – I design for my own family and therefore hopefully for yours too.
Originally, I designed and made fashion bags, spurred on by a challenge from my then boyfriend, now husband, and co-founder of Pink Lining, Rufus. Upon spotting a bag that I liked but couldn’t afford at the time, I declared that I could make it myself… and thus Rufus challenged me to do so! Subsequently I received commissions from friends and colleagues, which encouraged me to take photos with a disposable camera of my hand-made creations, hung from my front door handle, which I then posted off, along with my press release – to Vogue, Tatler, Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty!…Aim for the stars!… Within a couple of weeks I had an order from Harrods, swiftly followed by confirmation that the product would be featured in Vogue and Tatler! After finding a manufacturer and fulfilling the order (a rather challenging task!) the bags sold out from Harrods within 3 weeks and Liberty and Selfridges also subsequently placed orders….
A few years and numerous fashion weeks later, I was overjoyed to find myself pregnant with our first child. My first experience of the rather precarious juggling act of balancing ensuing family life with running my business occurred before she had even entered the world. I was 10 days overdue, and Rufus and I were in Saint Mary’s Paddington for my induction appointment. Being ever so slightly headstrong and rather inexperienced in giving birth I insisted that I could walk from St Mary’s Paddington to the local post office to post a bag to a customer… after having had my waters broken…. Let’s 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 as for the question I’m often asked; how did motherhood impact my business – well, it actually BECAME my business…I’ve heard it said that this is getting to plan B…in my case B was for Baby.
The first Pink Lining changing bag – the Yummy Mummy bag was born and instantly captured the imaginations of an exciting and rapidly growing mother and baby market. This bag didn’t mean you had to be a certain dress size or look a certain way in order to wear it – for, as we believe at Pink Lining, even down to the internal components of our products; it is what is on the inside that truly counts. Our customers have a shared outlook, not a shared look, and here was a product that was both practical, and fulfilled a very justifiable purpose, moreover it brought a smile to the face of the wearer. Our Pink Lining changing bags seemed to strike a chord.
It sounds like a cliché but 12 years ago before my first (of four) arrived, there wasn’t the proliferation of bags that 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 our family.
Family has and always will come first for me – even though that means working late into the night and early in the morning. Rufus and I run and co-own the company together which can help when it comes to juggling work and family commitments between us, and although I often work crazy hours I can mostly arrange to be there for the important occasions such as school plays and netball or football matches. However, it also means that sometimes there is no off button in terms of taking work home with us! So for us, a family business really means all six of us…in fact seven if you include the dog who appears in most of our marketing photos!
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 play such an important part in the company, testing out the Pink Lining Child products, and giving advice on their favourite themes and colours; they 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).
They get very excited about spotting the bags out and about, (we all do!), and as tiny babies they accompanied us to important meetings and charmed buyers, (running your own business doesn’t give you much in the way of maternity leave!!). Even the company name, Pink Lining, stems from an amalgamation of childhood sentiments & family nostalgia – derived from stories my mother would weave about a make believe land called Pink cloud and the belief that every cloud has a silver lining, which she now recounts to her grandchildren – our children.
Last Easter really summed up what a family business Pink Lining is as we undertook a 5 ½ weeks trip to see our suppliers in China, distributors in Seoul and new partners in Australia… Rufus and I, Amelia-Rose (11), Lucas (8), Arthur (6) and Henrietta (1)! Pink lining really is a family adventure!