This week we’re getting to know West London illustrator Charlotte Berridge and her beautiful images of her local area. You might recognise some of them from our Instagram feed! Read on to find out more about her work and her thoughts on the Just A Card campaign.
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I launched my business last November creating limited edition, open edition and personalised prints of Ealing, my local area.
I studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Bath Spa University before embarking on a successful career in magazines. My publishing career saw me launch and redesign many influential UK magazines. My last full time roll included four years as the Creative Director of Marie Clare UK. After taking some time out, I fell in love with my new pace of life and decided to see if I could build my own business.
What does a typical day involve?
In the morning I sort out any website or Etsy orders, quotes and email enquires. I offer free local delivery so always try to co-ordinate these on the same days to maximise my work time. Its nice meeting your customers face to face as you understand what it is about your products that they like best. I always like to get peoples orders to them asap.
Afternoons are for designing, my favourite part, I’m either working on private commissions or new projects to build my business. I try to launch a new print every month.
In the evenings I’ll package my cards or stock in front of the TV or back up in my studio with the music blasting!
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
We’ve recently turned our spare bedroom into a studio, its great to be able to leave everything out and shut the door in the evening. I love working from home, especially this time of the year when I get to eat my lunch in the garden!
Once a month, on the first Saturday of every month, I have a stall at CraftedW5 in Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre. It’s a lovely atmosphere with lots of great local independent traders and tasty food trucks. It’s the perfect place for me to reach new customers.
On days off my boyfriend and I love an urban ramble! Most Sundays we’ll leave the house, decide whether to turn left or right and just wander off to discover London. We still find new parts to explore, and we always manage to drop into a few traditional London pubs on the way!
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer/makers at the moment?
Many high street stores can quickly turn around cheap mass produced products at a fraction of designers’ and makers’ costs. They seem to have no qualms in copying people’s designs. The easy availability of gifts and lookalike products undermines the talent and skills of many designer/makers.
Finding the right place to show your wares is also a challenge. Social media and the internet are awesome, but showing people your actual products is invaluable. When people see my prints, (the quality, the colours and the detail) up close they are instantly captivated. I’m so lucky to have a monthly stall in Ealing.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I’d like to expand my areas across West London. I only launched last November and have a long hit list that I add to and carry with me where ever I go. Finding time to expand my brand while I take on so many personal commissions is proving difficult, but I’m learning to be more selective about what projects I take on. When I launched my business I didn’t really have a business plan as I wanted to see how it evolved, 9 months in I’m delighted that its taken off and I now need to refocus on how I want to develop the areas I feel most passionate about.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/ small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
* Concentrate on one thing. As creatives we are able to come up with endless ideas but it’s best to be known for one thing, otherwise people find it hard to categorise and therefore remember you.
*Set yourself deadlines. In August last year, I booked a stall at a local Christmas market, this was my deadline, I’d committed to it so there was no backing out and I needed to produce my products rather than just think about them. It really helped to focus my mind on what needed doing, and how all my ideas fitted together to create an exciting stall with a cohesive theme.
*Networking meetings - I’ve been to quite a few local networking meetings and met lots of customers and clients through it. It was through a networking meeting that I met Kate who organises food markets and now the monthly Ealing Craft Market too! I’ve learnt so much from other local small businesses, and even those that aren’t art/craft based. Everybody has a story and gems to share. I’m naturally shy, so it took a lot of courage to go and I still feel nervous, but when you remember everyone else is too it’s a lot easier. The more I push myself to go to these things the easier it becomes.
*Make sure you have a reliable card reader. I use iZettle (the handset was free!) on my stall and it has been essential, it means people don’t have an excuse not to buy something there and then.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
A brand new independent gift shop recently opened round the corner from me in Northfield Avenue, Ealing W13, Mooch. I was lucky enough to meet Sandra and Ev at local Artisan markets where they showed me the ropes. They have now opened their own shop together selling their wares and lots of great gift ideas, plus they are the first shop to stock my Ealing Prints. I also designed their logo for them so maybe I’m a little bit biased but honestly it is full of fabulous stuff!
There is a fabulous pop up shop in Chiswick, Indie W4. They secured a space on the High Road for 2 weeks at in April and are still going! A great addition to a street that is slowly becoming homogenized
I always love a trip down to Exmouth Market and Marby & Elm in Clerkenwell is a letterpress dream.
We Built This City in Carnaby Street has a great collection of designer/makers gifts and it’s slogan ‘revolutionising London souvenirs’ is spot on!
Also a big shout out for my friend Gabs at The Green Gables, without whom I wouldn’t have had the courage to set up my own business, and is also the reason I originally heard about the Just A Card Campaign.
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Yes, any purchase, however small is beneficial to businesses. My Ealing tea towels are a very popular.
I am passionate about shopping local. It may take me a little longer going to the green grocers, the bakers and the butchers, but the quality is fabulous and the sense of community essential. I use local trades wherever possible. Supporting small businesses rather than large corporations is essential to our economy and most importantly to our community.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
Even when someone buys a card (or tea towel!) from me I get excited that they like my work. Even at the quietest craft fairs if I sell a few cards and tea towels it makes it worth my while. I have to cover my pitch fees and these vary greatly from event to event so I find I can’t relax until this has been covered.
Having cards on my stall also helps to sell my prints. People often start off thinking they need to buy a card then they see the prints and get drawn in.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I met Sarah Hamilton through a friend, and have followed her on social media ever since. Its a fabulous campaign and as someone who is passionate about her local community it really resonates with me.
I’m addicted to Instagram, beautiful and inspiring pictures streamed to me all day! I love it! Most of my friends are creatives so it’s always fabulous seeing what they are up to, and I’ve met a whole new group of virtual friends on there too.
Everyone should get behind the “Just A Card” campaign, it’s such a simple message but really makes a difference to the livelihood of all us designers/makers. If Tesco can coin the phrase “every penny counts” they we certainly can too!