Featured image: Charlotte Curranзайм 18 лет на карту без справок
Fashion is saturated with fledgling designers trying to make a name for themselves. It has become notoriously difficult for Gen Z creatives to find success in the industry. One designer who has managed to break this trend is Charlotte Curran, 23, CEO of accessories brand ARTEMIS and philosophy masters student.
The Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2021 has named Charlotte as a finalist for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She now shares her experience by offering advice and coaching to new potential entrepreneurs and business owners.
The talented brand owner talks to aAh! about her experience starting up her business and finding a niche in fashion jewellery. She shares what it’s been like to build a team of like-minded people to help fuel her journey to financial independence, while staying true to her creativity.
Tell us how you got started with ARTEMIS?
“I first started ARTEMIS when I was 16. I had just come out of high school and I was working a minimum wage job that I felt was going nowhere. After being fired from that job, I was inspired by a package of jewellery from a small business and thought it would be so cool to do it myself. I started getting it set up that evening. During college and university I had to put everything on the back-burner and ARTEMIS became a hobby. I revisited it around last September during lockdown. It hasn’t been very long, but it’s been an absolute whirlwind putting myself full-time into ARTEMIS.”
What has been the main inspiration for ARTEMIS and your products?
“Artemis is a Greek goddess. In my undergrad, I had studied philosophy and Greek language and I developed a passion for Greek mythology. Our products are very much based on my love of experimenting with different styles, from gothic to bohemian and wanting to cater to all genders. I wanted it to be all-inclusive.”
What has it been like building your business, can you share some of the trials and tribulations you’ve encountered in the creation of your brand?
“Building from the ground up has been great as I got to learn everything about business. I learnt everything I could about marketing and product development from textbooks. I’m an academic, so I love learning and starting a business gave me that fulfilment of knowledge. Money was holding me back a bit in the beginning. I was anxious to invest because there was no indicator whether it would’ve been worth it. Even looking at my profit now, obviously some months are more lucrative than others like last month, I didn’t even take home a minimum wage. Yet, money wasn’t the main reason I started and money isn’t the thing that will keep me in it – it’s the love for it and the pride of knowing what I’ve built.”
Has the pandemic affected business in any way?
“The worst part of lockdown was when I needed help packaging orders. I was starting to build a team, hiring people, but there was no easy way of doing that because you couldn’t have other people you didn’t live with, in your house. I didn’t have an office space at that time and was hand- packaging the products for orders on my kitchen table for about nine hours a day. I decided to look into getting an office for my team to come and help out once restrictions eased. This was such a transformative decision! Since then it has been amazing, I still help out but it’s not the nine-hour days for me or the girls and there is an automatic system in place now.”
Financial independence is a popular topic and goal for our generation, did you think about this when starting your business?
“I’m good at saving so I didn’t care so much about getting money because I felt stable in my financial situation. Just getting £25 in revenue a day, I’d be happy. But within two months, we were at over £100 a day. I never really intended for it to be a big money-thing, I just wanted to be my own boss and be creative. That was my intention but now, it sounds kind of cliché. I’m in a position where I do have financial freedom and realised that wasn’t the motivator, but the lifestyle it gives me. That is the best part, the perks of having that freedom, the ability to say, ‘I’m not going into the office today’ or setting my own time to go in, just a flexible lifestyle.”
What has it been like to become your own boss?
Honestly, it’s the best thing ever! I always get asked: ‘Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?’’ The short answer is no. The longer answer is, I should’ve known. When I was a kid, I was very defiant. I hated being told what to do. [In] any job I had, I clashed with management. I feel like I should’ve known [my products] would lead to this job and that’s why I’m so happy this happened.
How has promoting your business come about?
I had quite a big personal Instagram in 2014. I think I had around 13,000 followers so I used that following as leverage to start a jewellery brand. I didn’t think anyone was going to buy anything though, so I was very pleasantly surprised when they did. Promotion has mainly been on Instagram, where our key audience is. We’ve started branching out into other social media sites such as Pinterest, TikTok, and Facebook. Promoting on these platforms has been quite straightforward, especially during lockdown. I think it was the right time to relaunch, [the timing] was key to success.
What has the creative process been like when it comes to making each item?
I design most of the pieces and then I teach the [team] how to make them, who then make them for orders. We used to hand-make every piece of jewellery [to order] and when you have at least 50 orders to make in one day, it’s quite a lot. But I can’t imagine completely automating the fulfilment process because I think being a small business and being able to personalise the packing process is so lovely. I love packages that are done with care, that are not just in a box with a bit of bubble wrap, it’s always so much nicer to add that personal touch.
How did you come about getting into the charity aspect, was it always something you wanted to do?
It was always in the back of my mind, how important it is to contribute. I remember reading somewhere, it said something like, as soon as you make the tiniest bit of money, give it away, because it gets you out of the greedy mindset. So as soon as I reached a living wage, we would give 10% to different charities of our choice based in Manchester. I was brought up in a working-class town, so I think there’s still a bit of me when I see the money at the end of the month [and] I’m thinking, ‘This is too much, I need to give it away.’ I have something innate telling me that other people would benefit from this way more than me. Giving to charity was important to me from the get-go.
What are your aspirations for your business’ future, can we get a sneak peek of any ideas?
I’m grateful for ARTEMIS as it’s not only a jewellery brand but a platform that I can use in different ways and we’re looking at starting to stock other businesses’ products. It might be clothing, home décor [or] accessories. It would be lovely to provide a platform for smaller businesses. It also means in terms of designing and trying to find good quality garments and materials, that labour is cut out so I could commission limited pieces instead and we can stock it. We’re also thinking of hosting some events in Manchester where it’s half meet up and half trade fair, and allows people to showcase their products. We’re very geared towards using our platform to [help] small businesses and collaborating with them.