Local entrepreneur Petar Savic talks to some of the start-ups and small businesses running from Primrose Hill. This month he meets Charlotte Simone.
What did you do before your accessories label?
I dabbled in fashion internships at university, I worked at Vogue magazine and Topshop, but once I graduated from college I went straight into working for myself.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I didn’t decide to be an entrepreneur, and I certainly didn’t see myself as a business-minded individual. I just had an idea and I wanted to give it a go! I am now five years in and learning and growing my business day to day; I can’t wait to see where we take it.
Why do you like being an entrepreneur?
I like being in charge of my time, my schedule and the opportunities that lie ahead. It’s great to be able to follow my gut and make up my own rules.
Why did you decide to launch a start-up?
Before starting Charlotte Simone, I studied at New York University, but I spent my freshman year of college in Paris. I studied Literature and Art, but fell in love with fashion and the pastries instead! The women in Paris are beautiful and I was inspired by the effortless style of Parisian women and their ability to build an outfit around a single accessory.
One day, my head turned on the streets of Paris when I saw a beautifully dressed lady all in black wearing a huge statement scarf. It was in that moment that I realised I wanted to reinvent the everyday scarf, an accessory I felt was still left untapped. Seeing a gap in the market I designed the ‘Popsicle’, which has become our signature scarf; the rest is history.
What are your biggest challenges?
As the brand continues to grow, we are constantly challenged by the ever-changing marketplace and consumer wants and needs. A growing brand means evolving production needs, categories and the need for constant product. This past season when we launched knitwear, we had to source new factories for a new category we had never produced before. While this is an exciting time, I want to make sure that the Charlotte Simone client always has the best, so it’s a self-inflicted pressure. On the flipside, the biggest reward is seeing Charlotte Simone in the wild. It still feels like a shock when I see someone strutting down a high street in London wearing one of our scarves.
How did you get funded?
I got an initial loan of £10,000 from my father so that I could start making my accessories in the NYC Garment District. When I got my first big order from Bloomingdales, I used the money to fund myself moving forward ‒ in addition to paying my dad back, of course! No one saw me for the first eighteen months of my start-up. I worked extremely hard. I went door-to-door to every buyer in town to get my brand off the ground running. It’s taken a lot of late nights and rough roads to get where I am, but I’m so happy to be here.
Do you have any advice for other people looking to try a start-up?
My advice would be to surround yourself with people who you love and trust. Building your own brand, you really have to eat, sleep and breathe it; and it’s key to find people who share and support your vision.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on sales for my AW19 collection. We launch our next season in September and it’s my biggest yet, so I’m working on securing department stores and boutiques to hold my new line.
What do you love about Primrose Hill?
I have a sausage dog called Harold, so I spend a lot of time in the park. I love to walk; it really clears my head and I find it therapeutic.
Where can we find out more about your brand?
My website is where you can shop my whole collection: www.charlottesimone.com
I’m also stocked in London retailers including Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Liberty, and of course our local Primrose Hill treasure Anna in Regent’s Park Road.