Getting to know Charlie Feist

When Emma, from Charlie Feist, got in touch with me back in June via Instagram the brand was yet to launch, but I was immediately drawn to their aesthetic. I waited patiently, following their Instagram like an excited child waiting for Father Christmas. I wasn’t disappointed when their first collection dropped in September. I am now the proud owner of one of their backpacks, and very much doubt it will be the last! I’ve been so impressed by the Charlie Feist and by Emma’s professionalism, passion for the brand plus her understanding of what blogging is all about, I am proud to say I am now a brand ambassador having signed up to their affiliate programme.  Keep an eye out on my YouTube channel for an unboxing video, coming later this week. But for now, let’s get to know Charlie Feist in my interview with Emma…

Click here to shop with Charlie Feist!*

Tell me a bit about yourself and the brand Charlie Feist.

We are team of two full-time staff and with 3 part-time members not counting the fulfilment team at the warehouse. I manage social media marketing for the brand while the founder of the brand; Subal looks after the design and production end of things.

How and why did you come up with the name Charlie Feist?

During our preppy wardrobe days of structured navy blazers and crisp blue oxford button-downs, we were obsessed with Hunter boots. And we thought that rubbery material would be perfect to make a backpack since it’s waterproof and hardy. We began researching around the lifestyle of a hunter. Looking at several images of hunters, we began noticing that almost always a dog would accompany them. What followed was a weeklong research of names of hunting dog breeds. After going through several of the usual suspects and variations of spaniels, beagles, etc. we stumbled upon the “Charlie Feist” which is named after a hunting dog. Immediately we fell love in with the name because it kind of has the sound of a human. Both Subal and I are WAY too self-conscious to have our own names plastered on the product!

As a start-up company I remember you getting in touch with me earlier in the year. What has been your progress? Can you talk me through the stages?

It’s become almost cliché to disregard the “build it and they will come” adage. But this is disregarded for a reason especially in 2016. To think that our product is SO good that it could bubble up from all the noise out there is ludicrous. From the get, we were amply clear that we couldn’t launch to crickets. We knew that when we opened our digital doors, we needed to have a warm audience who was excited about the launch. With this in mind, we began talking about the brand on Instagram.

What is the history behind the brand?

The idea of a well-designed backpack has been with us since 2014, but it was only in 2015 when after many failed production samples, we finally created the product that we could stand behind.

One of the first things I noticed when you got in touch is the minimalist yet luxury feel of the brand. From what sources have you drawn inspiration?

It’s funny you say luxury when the starting point of the brand is £59! We always wanted to keep our price accessible since we wanted more people to enjoy our products. When designers get asked the question about where did they get their inspiration from, you probably hear a long-winded answer mostly involving an era that you wouldn’t have heard of and it goes above the heads of most people. I won’t do that. Our inspiration is the works of great brands like Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and a bit of Zara and River Island! Having said that, these different elements have to be combined to form an aesthetic that appeals to you. I think a lot of designers work in this way, but are some a bit afraid to talk about it.

What has been the most difficult part of the Charlie Feist process?

For us, the part that we don’t control has been most difficult for us, i.e. manufacturing. Finding factories that can make a quality bag has been a big challenge. Since none of us comes from a design or fashion background, we literally had to rip open bags just to learn about different materials and fabrics. Certainly a test of persistence.

What has been the most rewarding moment?

Getting a quality bag made! (Playing off your previous question!). But that would be at micro level. At the macro level, I find myself doing the thing that I truly love. I have started to love Mondays. No more TGIF or ‘live for the weekend’ anymore. The level of confidence and zest for life that I find in myself is certainly the biggest reward.

What are your goals and plans with the brand? Where do you see the brand in 5 years time?

For the moment, we are focusing 100% on making beautiful utilitarian backpacks. Five years is such a long time to predict where we will be!

How important is the vegan element of Charlie Feist to you? How do you see the brand also appealing to non-vegans? (like me!)

 This is a great question and we get asked this all the time. As animal lovers (especially puppies), we could not allow ourselves to use animal products such as leather or fur in our product. However, we don’t resort to in-your-face marketing or shaming those who don’t share our belief. We don’t judge anyone’s dietary choices.

Name a person or a company who inspires you.

COS is an inspirational brand as their art direction is always on point and they have a very clear understanding of who their customer is.


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Bubba Gump Shrimp London

I love food! I also love films, and Forrest Gump is definitely in my ‘top 10 movies of all time list’ (but that’s a post for another time!) So, when I heard the Forrest Gump themed ‘Bubba Gump Shrimp’ restaurant was opening it’s first UK branch in London I knew I had to visit. I finally got around to going last month and wasn’t disappointed…


Convenient for tourists and locals alike

Being within easy walking distance from several stations (including Leicester Square tube and Charing Cross main line) the restaurant has obviously been located to lure in the tourists. Especially when you consider the M&M shop, Nickelodeon store and The Prince of Wales Theatre are all literally on the doorstep. If you are familiar with London, it occupies the building in which you used to be able to find Planet Hollywood.






Themed Perfection

You feel totally emerged in the film as soon as you enter the front door. The small ground floor houses a gift shop and the waiting area has plenty of nods to the film. We arrived at what I’d consider to be an off-peak time (5 pm on a weekday) so the waiting area was almost empty, but being very small I imagine it gets quite cramped during busy periods. The restaurant is up the stairs and I loved the decor. It’s as you would expect for a themed restaurant including props and memorabilia plus quotes and stills from the film but in my opinion executed to perfection. I loved that the drinks menu was printed between a table tennis bat and that the many televisions throughout the restaurant were either playing the full film, or American sports games.



Not quite something for everyone, but plenty for seafood lovers!

Clearly, the menu is very ‘fish heavy’ and this is definitely not a restaurant I would recommend for vegetarians! As a seafood lover I was spoilt for choice. Many of the dishes are either fried or contain a lot of cheese, but there are some grilled dishes served without chips (or fries) for those watching their cholesterol levels! I loved that many of the dishes were those mentioned by the Bubba character in the film when he lists all the ways to serve shrimp (love that scene!) and there are also dishes named after other characters (including my favourite Lieutenant Dan). Drinks wise, in addition to the standard selection of soft drinks the cocktails selection is decent. They have the usual themed restaurant trick of getting you to spend more on drinks by offering standard cocktails at around £10 or the option of the drink plus a souveneer glass to take home for a couple of pounds extra. Main meals cost anything between £10 to £25 so as you’d expect for a central London tourist hotspot, but I thought the quality of food matched the price, as discussed later! A gluten free menu is available and to be honest I didn’t pay it much attention, but noticed there were only a few dishes. Their menu is available online here.



All-American Service

Right from arrival it was obvious the restaurant brought their American service with them to the UK. And I mean that as a compliment! A host greeted us enthusiastically. He (and as we later found out most of the staff) wore a headset to communicate with each other and it meant the service was both personal and extremely efficient; when it was our turn to be seated the host let the greeter at the top of the stairs know we were on our way and also told him our names so we were greeted with a personal touch. Our waiter was great; explaining the menu, chatting film trivia and making personal recommendations. All theme restaurants have their gimmicks but the Bubba Gump one is actually pretty useful. Every table has two signs and as the customer you chose which one to display ‘Run Forrest Run’ or ‘Stop Forrest Stop’. If you display the first you will be left alone to enjoy your food, drink and conversation. Display the second and a waiter or waitress stops at your table the next time one walks past. In theory, this means no waiting around for your order to be taken or to ask for the bill, but you are also not disturbed half way through a mouthful of food to be asked “is everything OK?”. I appreciated this! And it worked in practice when we dined, but I’d be interested to see if it is as effective at busier periods. All wait staff also wore t-shirts (merchandise from the shop obvs!) printed with the best Forrest quotes such as ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’.



Seafood Heaven

I had a tough time making a decision and almost went for the coconut shrimp seeing as it was a fusion of two of my favourite flavours. In the end I decided bigger was better and ordered ‘Forrest’s Seafood Feast’ – 3 types of breaded fish served with chips and dips. All of the fish was melt in the mouth more-ish, my favourite being the shrimp (of course!). At £15.50 it is one of their mid-priced dishes but actually great value; I had no trouble finishing off the fish but barely ate half of the chips so in reality you could split this dish between two, and then still have room for dessert (which we didn’t!) My husband had the surf and turf; a great option for those who want a taster of the fish but are red-meat lovers at heart. Of course I had to try some for research purposes! The shrimp was perfectly seasoned and the ribs exactly as they should be – drenched in barbecue sauce and tender enough to be pulled apart with your fingers!

So in summary? Clearly if you are a fan of neither seafood or Forrest Gump this won’t be the place for you. But if you are a fan of both, it shouldn’t be missed! You can follow Bubba Gump Shrimp London on twitter @bubbagumpuk1

Henry’s Covent Garden – classy cocktails that don’t break the bank


Henry’s Cafe Bar in Covent Garden is a place I have been visiting for years, ever since I moved to London many moons ago as an 18 year old student. For me, it’s an ‘old faithful’ – a place I know I can return to for a good time whether it be for a lunch date, coffee and a chat, a quick drink or a full on cocktail session! Having said that until recently it had been some time since my last visit, but when I ended up there with a group of friends celebrating a very special engagement, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to see if their cocktails remain as good as I remember. I wasn’t disappointed! The bar tenders clearly know their stuff taking time and care over each cocktail. This may mean you wait a bit longer than average for your drink to be made, but for me that’s the sign of a proper cocktail, and part of the experience is watching the bar tender and their flair in making the drinks. And with cocktails ranging from £5.95 (during happy hour) and £9.95 (champagne based) in a central London bar just a hop, skip and jump from Covent Garden, what more can you ask for?! You can find the full bar menu here, but below are some I sampled with friends during our recent visit.


Blackberry Spice – £8.50

This cocktail is from Henry’s ‘favourites’ menu and I believe it to be one of their own creations. Designed to taste like a berry crumble this is one for dessert lovers! Rum, blackcurrant liqueur and fresh limes all over crushed ice and topped with cinnamon, for me, make this cocktail both refreshing and comforting at the same time. It’s a shorter drink, so definitely on the stronger side but makes for a very classy looking cocktail if nothing else!


Key West Cooler – £7.95

From their ‘Classics’ menu this may not be the most interesting looking of cocktails but it’s all about the taste with the Key West Cooler! I have a big sweet tooth and this cocktail definitely satisfies that. If you are a fan of sweet spirits this is right up your street. Melon liqueur, peach schnapps, Malibu with orange and cranberry juices make this an even better version of one of my all time favourites, sex on the beach.

Raspberry Mojito – £8.50

Another from the ‘favourites’ menu is this twist on the Mojito. It contains all the classic ingredients (fresh mint, homemade Demerara syrup, fresh lime and rum) but with a dose of fresh raspberries and the rum is vanilla infused for a bit of extra sweetness. I am not a fan of a Mojito, which is just my personal preference, but two of our party ordered and loved these. Refreshing with a berry twist – perfect for a Spring afternoon.

DSC00270eForbidden Fruit – price not listed

What about the teetotallers/designated drivers/expectant mums?! Henry’s have a decent selection of non-alcoholic cocktails made with equal flair and served with as much care as their alcoholic counter-parts! The forbidden fruit is a selection of fresh juices blended with pureed fruit so tastes just as good as the other cocktails – just without the kick! Other options include a virgin mojito, homemade iced tea (sadly not available the day we visited) and a virgin Mary so I’d say there’s something for all tastes!

After returning to Henry’s for the first time in a long time, I can definitely say this won’t be my last visit! Let me know in the comments if you are a fan of Henry’s, of if you visit after reading this post.