On one very blustery, early-spring Sunday morning, we had the pleasure of sitting down with #FriendsofCE Lucy and Sarah, Bloomsbury customers of ours, who are sisters from London.
We met in the stunning grounds of Greenwich Park. Chatting over a hot cup of tea together, it was so special to meet with supporters of my brand. Charlotte Elizabeth has been sold solely through our online site for the four years we've been trading, and so each time I meet with our customers, it makes what we're doing feel all the more real.
It was to chat to the girls and hear more about their stories, where they had adventured with their beloved pink and red Bloomsbury's, and see their shared love and appreciation for each other - something I'm familiar with having two strong sister bonds in my life.
Read our Q and A with Luch and Sarah below:
What is your occupation?
S: I’m a trained Occupational Therapist but currently working in a less physical role within the NHS as an Administrator/Patient Care Co-ordinator.
L: Marketing & Events Co-Ordinator in the hospitality sector.
How did you first find/hear about Charlotte Elizabeth?
S: It was either an article about the creator of the brand, Charlotte, or her feature on the blog What Olivia Did in her series on inspirational women where I first discovered the Charlotte Elizabeth brand. Charlotte’s journey with chronic illness resonated so much with me as a woman who has also battled with ill health. I loved the design of the bag, and I loved seeing a “real” person behind the brand!
L: I first heard about the brand from my sister, who purchased the pink Bloomsbury and I instantly knew I needed one of my own!
What made Charlotte Elizabeth different to other brands you have invested in?
S: The brand feels personal - not only because you feel like you know the people behind the brand, but because it’s not elitist. They share the pictures and stories of real people, rather than purely models, bloggers and celebrities.
I also love that the team behind the brand always portray kindness and care - whether it’s through their social media posts, or in replies to emails.
L: I feel like the brand has a much more personal feel to it than others I’ve invested in in the past. Knowing the back story to the creation of the brand is so inspiring, and also knowing how involved Charlotte and her family are personally with the production of the items gives me a lot of faith in the brand.
What Bloomsbury do you have?
S: I purchased the pink Bloomsbury not long after it’s release, and I’ve recently purchased the chestnut backpack in the sample sale!
L: I have the red Bloomsbury.
Why did you get The Bloomsbury? Was it a gift, a present to yourself or a marker of a milestone?
S: A present to myself after admiring the ‘old style’ bag for absolutely ages! I think at the time the pink was also a limited edition item so I didn’t want to miss out!
L: I’d had my eye on The Bloomsbury for a while after my sister purchased one in pink but had been holding off as I’m a bit of a bag addict and already have too many (can you ever have too many though, really?). I then saw that you had a monogrammed bag with my initials that had become available in the sample sale and knew it was a sign that I just had to have the bag!
How do you wear your Bloomsbury?
S: The Bloomsbury goes with absolutely everything - whether it’s comfy clothes on my way to the hospital for my next round of treatment when I’m wrapped up in my fave winter coat, or in the summer with a pretty dress!
L: One of the best things about The Bloomsbury is that it’s so versatile – I wear it everywhere! It’s such a classic and chic style that it’s perfect if you need to dress up a little, and it also adds a touch of elegance to help you dress up a more casual outfit.
What do you put inside your Bloomsbury?
S: It fits all the essentials - my Oyster card, purse, phone, keys and my multiple forms of migraine medication in case I need them. There’s usually a lip balm or gloss lurking in the bottom too! And depending on the weather, I’ve managed to fit a small umbrella in there!
L: It’s the perfect size for just the right amount of essentials. I have a really bad habit of bringing anything and everything in my bigger bags and end up carrying around heavy bags full of things I really don’t need, so The Bloomsbury has helped to get me out of that habit! Some essentials I’ll always have on me are my purse, keys, travel card, a powder compact and a lipstick.
What’s your best adventure with your Bloomsbury?
S: Meeting two of the amazing woman behind the brand - Charlotte and Amy. Seeing how kind and caring they both were, and how passionate they were about the brand, made me appreciate my purchase so much more!
L: The Bloomsbury has been a trusty companion on my arm to many a concert and event over the past year – Wembley Stadium, The O2 and The Royal Albert Hall have become pretty regular spots!
What are your little moments of happiness throughout the day?
S: I’m not much of a sleeper these days, and PoTS and migraine can often leave me feeling “overloaded” at times, so I love the early morning when I’m the only one awake. I can make a cup of tea, and sit and enjoy the peace and quiet for a while.
L: My daily commute to work – I walk through beautiful Greenwich Park every morning, and love doing a spot of people watching. It’s also prime time for the dog walkers to be out, so getting to see so many excited dogs on their walks every day is an added bonus! Also, getting to sit down as a family and have dinner together, catching up on what’s going on in the news and in our lives.
What’s your happy place?
S: Being around friends and family who “get it”. Knowing that I’m safe and won’t be judged if my heart starts racing or a migraine starts to worsen and I need to sit down, leave early, or cancel something completely at short notice.
L: Being in the midst of a concert at the O2 Arena!
When did you last feel brave? How do you define bravery?
S: Bravery can come in many forms - it can be finding the courage to stand up to something that’s been building for a while, or it can be running into danger to help others. It’s having the capacity to carry on regardless of fear.
I last felt brave at my latest hospital appointment. I used to be absolutely terrified of needles, but now have 31 injections in my head and neck every 12 weeks for chronic migraine. I’m still scared of the pain - and the pain hasn’t lessened- but I’m brave enough to face it.
L: I suffer from crippling anxiety so it’s not very often that I feel brave – often leaving the house is a struggle if it’s for something that’s not part of my usual routine (e.g. work). I was even anxious about coming to meet you for the photoshoot as I’m always anxious around new people, but you were so lovely and put me at ease instantly which I am so grateful for. I think bravery is probably
feeling the fear and doing it anyway! The last time I felt brave though was probably a few weeks ago when I had to have a biopsy done – I’m not great with medical procedures and hate the sight of blood, but I managed to go in for the procedure alone.
What do you wish to see more of in the world?
S: I’d love to see more kindness, more empathy and more community in the world. There is so much hate, and I don’t know if it's just a London thing, but people don’t seem to look out for each other like they used to.
The world can be a horrible and scary place, but it’s nice to be nice, and we should all look out for each other a little better.
L: Kindness. A lot of people don’t seem to realise it’s free!
What makes you feel fulfilled?
S: Seeing others around me happy and thriving. There’s a lot of bad in the world, but it’s important to look for the good too!
L: Seeing my friends and family happy, and doing well in their lives.
What inspires you?
S: There is an amazing chronic illness community I’ve found through Instagram. It took me many years, and a lot is dismissals by healthcare professionals for me to finally be diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS), and it’s the amazing women I’ve met online who supported me through the process - and continue to support me, through good days and bad.
It was humbling to know that I wasn’t going mad, and most importantly that I wasn’t alone.
L: People! Seeing other people overcoming adversity and finding success and happiness. Hearing people’s stories about how they’ve overcome obstacles in their lives, and keep fighting against the odds, is always so inspiring.
Favourite adventure you’ve ever had?
S: Visiting Brighton during Pride, travelling to Sydney and the Grand Canyon (and Vegas!) with my sister. Brighton in the sunshine is beautiful - add glitter and rainbows and it’s even more so.
I love Australia and the “no worries” mentality Australians have. I only wish it wasn’t such a long journey or I’d go back in a heartbeat.
The Grand Canyon was such a beautiful and peaceful place. I loved the helicopter trip there (although my sister would tell you that it’s probably one of the worst things she’s ever done…).
L: Travelling to Sydney, Australia with my sister, which had been a lifelong dream. It was my first time on a plane and I was terrified, but it was all so worth it and I’m desperate to go back!
What was the shoot day like?
S: Windy! Haha. But Charlotte and Amy were both so lovely and welcoming to me and my sister, and it was so nice to be able to shoot in a place so local to home. Getting to see the new bags in person, getting the hear to story behind the brand, and a little about future plans made me really appreciate my past purchase that bit more. Knowing how much the people behind the brand truly care about their products and about their customers was amazing to see.
L: It was honestly so lovely! It was so great getting to meet Charlotte and Amy and to learn more about the brand, it’s the creation and what they stand for. They were so kind and friendly and really helped to put me at ease from the moment we met.
How was it seeing and using the new products on the shoot?
S: I loved the new designs! Simple, practical, but luxurious at the same time - and the suede pink lining matched my pink coat perfectly! The only difficult thing is deciding which one I like more!
L: I’ve been coveting another CE bag for a while now but have been torn between the Emma and the Alicia, so it was great to get to see them in person to get a better feel for them. All of the products really are so stunning and elegant – I’m in love with them all!
What do you like about CE products/brand?
S: The CE products are simple and smart at the same time. You can pair them with anything, and they’re so practical!
L: In terms of the brand I love the personal feel and also the family element to it. Charlotte truly is such an inspiration, and a really lovely person too, which just makes me an even bigger fan of the brand. The products themselves are so beautiful and classy, and the fact they are so versatile and can be styled with pretty much anything makes them a great investment - but knowing the people behind the brand are so lovely too really helps.
What do you wish you’d known when you were young?
S: When I was younger I was constantly worried about the “what ifs” and shied away from a lot. I wish I’d had the courage to say yes more, and to advocate for myself a bit better - but then again I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having faced those struggles.
L: Not to care so much about everyone else’s opinion of the things that I like. I spent far too long being embarrassed about the things I enjoy, whether it’s the type of music I listen to, hobbies, the career path I wanted...It definitely held me back a lot in life, especially when it comes to my career. I worried too much about what people would say or think about everything that I convinced myself I shouldn’t do it and ended up putting off doing things I wanted to, and thus never pursued certain avenues I would’ve liked to.
S: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop
L: ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind,’
What’s your dream?
S: My dreams have changed a lot over the years, but my current dream is to be well, and to be happy.
L: Just happiness for myself and my family. I’d love to get over my anxiety and explore a bit more, travel and see new places (and of course take my Bloomsbury along for the adventure too!).
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