StyleNest took a five-minute coffee break with founder of cult baby changing bag brand Pink Lining, Charlotte Pearl.
Back in 2001 the then mum of one, Charlotte Pearl set about making herself the perfect baby changing bag. Twelve years on and that first bag has taken Charlotte into a global-selling, successful brand, Pink Lining, a new children’s line, PL Child and plans for a travel wear line too.
With stockists such as John Lewis and Harrods here in the UK to Bloomingdale’s in the States, Pink Lining has become a cult label for new mums and mums-to-be.
We caught up with Charlotte to find out just how she runs a successful business with three children under 10 and another one on the way.
Charlotte lives in West London with her husband Rufus and her three children Amelia Rose, Lucas and Arthur.
You co-founded changing bag brand, Pink Lining. Tell us a little about how that came about?
It was a dare from my then boyfriend, now husband and business partner, to make a bag, which I did, and here we are.
Pink Lining is now stocked in huge stores such as John Lewis, Mamas & Papas and Harrods. Did you ever see the brand getting so big?
Actually I always aimed high and Harrods was my first stockist. My mother always said “aim for the moon and you’ll be happy if you hit the stars.”
You’re known for you cute and quirky designs, such as cupcakes and ‘yummy mummy’ motifs. Where do you get your creative inspiration?
My inspiration is derived from memories such as baking fairy cakes with my mother at home as a little girl, musings and everyday family life.
In the past 10 years you’ve become a wife, a mum to three, are pregnant with your fourth and have created a successful business. Do you ever get time to relax?
I managed to put on a face pack in the bath last night but was reading Sam the Dog with my five year old at the same time!
Pink Lining has also been snapped up in the States by stores like Bloomingdales and Henri Bendel. Do you get to travel there for work and if so, where are your favourite NYC haunts?
When we started out in fashion we travelled a lot more to NYC but this was pre-children. Now the focus is closer to home and building a profitable business in the States is tough when you can’t be there. Having said that, pizza at Serafina when we do get to New York is a must.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Do you have a favourite bag from Pink Lining that you’ve used time and time again?
I try out every new style as they are in development and I like the fact that I have access to different bags all the time – although sometimes I find it difficult to remember which one I left my wallet in. It was the Bramley Tote until the new laser cut leather Grace Tote arrived, which I’m loving.
You’ve recently launched Pink Lining’s children’s brand, PL Child, which we absolutely love here at StyleNest. Tell us a little about that.
Thanks so much. Pink Lining is very much a family business and my family are my inspiration. As my family and their needs have grown, the company has grown and expanded to cater for them in the form of PL Child. It’s a logical step for us given all the wonderful mothers who have bought our bags in the last few years, as both me and them all have little kids running around now who need bags of their own.
How different is it designing for mothers to children? Do you have a different process?
For sure, the products are different in themselves but the same attention to detail and practicality is needed, combined with a happy, stylish aesthetic. The fabrics are also intrinsic to making sure they are the right fit for the age group. All our fabrics are designed in house and are exclusive to us.
We love the adorable characters on the personalised bags like the little mouse and dinosaur. How do you dream these characters up?
Each one comes about in a different way. Robbie the Robot was from moving home for the umpteenth time and making a robot out of old boxes and tin foil on a rainy day with the kids. The new Knights & Dragons and Damsels & Unicorns was from seeing the children dressing up and playing together, their vivid imaginations coupled with my own. I also revisit old favourite childhood books, such as Bramley Hedge and the Faraway Tree at bedtime with the children, which provides me with ample inspiration.
Have you had the approval from your own children?
Of course, without that the bags don’t go into production.
You’re based in Notting Hill. Any top tips for dining out in the area with children?
There are quite a few excellent Italian restaurants on Kensington Park Road and they’re all so child friendly. Our favourite is Osteria Basilico or Grangers where they do the best coffee in London.
When you see someone in the street with one of your designs, how does it make you feel?
I feel very proud and it makes me smile, which is exactly what I mean for them to do – to bring a bit of colour and a sense of fun into the everyday.
There’s a lot of pressure on mums to look good and bounce back into shape after having a baby. What are your thoughts on this trend and celeb induced culture?
It’s hard enough dealing with a new baby let alone the pressure to look good. It also is a time to celebrate life and not concentrate on superfluous details like appearance as there is someone far more important to dedicate your time and efforts to. Sure, I take pride in my appearance when I’m not too tired to be bothered and I try to be healthy, but at this amazing time the focus has to be on the baby and should not be a time you are focusing on trying to lose weight. Plus, I like ice cream and chocolate too much.
Christmas is coming soon. Where will you be doing your Christmas shopping?
I think I will do a lot online, not at the service station on the M40 like my husband did one year. I also love browsing small independent shops for the unusual treasures hopefully no one else will have.
You’re soon to launch a range of Pink Lining rucksacks and overnight bags. Does the work ever stop?
No, but as a brand inspired by a growing family we have to keep up.