On 10th March 2016, I launched the brand I had been building from my bedroom with hopes that one person *may* just stumble across the site, and may just buy a bag.
I launched with 40 Bloomsbury's, in 4 colours; in chestnut, black, grey and chocolate. I remember so clearly playing with them as they arrived, lining them up along my bedroom cabinet, my childhood dream of playing shopkeeper finally arrived (sort of...).
The Bloomsbury's were examined with perfection, placed in their dust bags and stored under the bed. I had spent the £3,000 loan The Prince's Trust lent me, supporting my business plan and believing in me enough to allow me to spend the money on stock of my first ever product. Now the waiting game began... would anyone buy one?
That moment came very shortly afterwards, a customer pinged up from Germany, making the first purchase. The weeks went on with a steady rise in sales. Back in 2016, social media was only just beginning to rise through the work of influencers. It was a totally different game back then.
I remember the now Charlotte Elizabeth Instagram page was my personal one, filled with many photos of our family dog, recipes I'd experimented with and the occasional OOTD. I launched the brand on there, with a post of the logo stamp on the back of a chestnut Bloomsbury, with the words 'This is what I've been working on!'.
I may have received about 11 likes... I was overjoyed!
Fast forward 4 years and my sisters, my team and I were sat alongside the community we've built along the way.
Look at all those Bloomsbury's...
We ate beautiful food from Natural Kitchen in London, one of my most favourite restaurants. We met with our #FriendsofCE, the exclusive community club created to include our nearest and dearest customers, supporters and friends. I had met with a few of the ladies prior to the event, but to finally meet and put names to faces of women who have been cheering us from the start really felt like an incredible (and overwhelming) moment.
To see so many of our friends turn up to the evening with their CE bags just felt like a total dream... honestly, the most surreal experience ever to see your designs being worn by a real person!
The conversations of the evening were simply beautiful and deeply nourishing. Around the table sat women who had their own small businesses, one author, a hospital worker, a tv researcher and many dreamers. Some of us spoke about mental health, which felt like a really wonderful, open and 'normalised' conversation - something I am very grateful for and would certainly like to involve our community to shed light on more in the future.
It was a beautiful evening which I will never forget. My sisters sat alongside me and I could not believe we were all working together on this dream together and that we were seeing all of our hard work and efforts in front of us, quite literally, with our friends showcasing their bags and feeding back their very kind words on our brand.
Thank you to all of our friends who celebrated with us, and all of our friends who got us to our 4th Birthday, it would not be possible without you.