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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This content is not sponsored. Links marked with * are affiliate links.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Capsule Wardrobe – 1 year on

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Exactly a year ago I wrote about my venture into the capsule wardrobe concept, and I’ve been posting updates along the way (all previous posts are linked below). Now, after having given myself a pat on the back for sticking to it for all this time, I’m sharing the lessons I have learnt after 12 months and how I plan to apply the principals to my wardrobe moving forward…

Be flexible

This has to be my biggest and most important lesson and it is relevant in more ways than one. My original plan was to create a 37 piece wardrobe to be switched up each season. The weird and wonderful British weather threw a spanner in the works here, meaning I had to do the change-over at times I hadn’t expected to or planned to. I also originally planned to incorporate my “going out out” clothes into my capsule wardrobe. On reflection, I do this so infrequently that very dressy items took up valuable space in the limited collection and they were only worn once or twice over the course of a few months (if that). Moving forward, I have a few pieces separate from my main wardrobe for special occasions and plan to operate a ‘one in, one out’ policy to my main collection. I will still rotate items out of storage as the weather changes but when I am tempted by a new purchase at other times, providing I have thought it through, I will allow myself to buy it on the condition that an existing piece is rotated out and either put back into storage, sold or donated.

Layering is your friend

Talking of unpredictable weather, I have definitely realised that it is important to buy pieces that can be layered. Not only does this mean the wardrobe can outlast changeable temperatures, it also provides a bigger variety of looks meaning you are less likely to get bored of your collection.

You do develop a style

The interesting thing about having a capsule wardrobe is that when you do shop, you get very picky. Whereas a previous changing room thought process may have involved little actual thought and resulted in a lot of emotional purchases, nowadays each item is scrutinised heavily! Does it fit perfectly? Is it flattering? Will I wear it regularly? Does the shade fit my current colour palette? Is it well made and does it feel good quality? This level of scrutiny has definitely resulted both consciously and sub-consciously developing a style,  or the ‘every day uniform’ I had read so much about but never really fully understood until now!

It is still a work in progress

If I was feeling in a corny mood I would say something like “it’s a journey not a destination” and it would be true! My Summer capsule wardrobe was my least enjoyed so far (for various reasons including poor planning) but this only enabled me to make a better job of it next time around, meaning my love for the capsule wardrobe has been rekindled and that my current Autumn wardrobe is my favourite yet! I’m bound to make further errors of judgement and need to make more changes to the way I approach it (like I said – it is important to be flexible!) but to me that is part of the beauty of the whole concept – you can choose to apply the parts that work for you and adapt it to suit your lifestyle.

Previous capsule wardrobe posts…

Trying out the capsule wardrobe – the ‘Un-fancy’ way

My Capsule Wardrobe – lessons and Winter updates

3 Spring Trends – for a capsule wardrobe

My Capsule Wardrobe – the Winter to Spring transition

My Capsule Wardrobe – most worn this Summer

 

Kurt Geiger Leather Zip Around Purse

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If you had said Kurt Geiger to me six months ago I would have thought of shoes, and shoes only. I had no idea they sold beautiful accessories, including purses. However, I was lucky enough to receive the ‘Leather Zip Around Purse’ in brown for my birthday and I have fallen so in love that I decided it needed it’s own dedicated blog post.

There are a few reasons this purse is perfect for me. Firstly, it’s leather. I can be unintentionally heavy handed so as much as I try and take care of all my possessions, they can get a bit ‘bashed about’, especially bags and purses. In the couple of months I’ve had the purse it has worn really well and I find the advantage of leather is even when it gets marked this can simply add to the character of it rather than make it appear ruined (like faux leather can). I also love the zip (there’s a sentence I thought I’d never write!) The reason being that as the name suggests it wraps all the way around the purse keeping everything really secure, but the ‘chunky-ness” of it adds to the overall look. I personally don’t like the look of a designer name plastered in huge letters across a product, and prefer a more subtle nod to the designer. I find the Kurt Geiger lettering to smart and understated. Finally, I am a receipt and loyalty card hoarder and there is plenty of room for these plus enough space for coins, notes and debit/credit cards too without having to cram everything in.

You can find the purse sold in various places including, of course, Kurt Geiger and department stores such as House of Fraser. Different stores seem to stock different colours but in addition to brown I’ve seen the purse in black, grey, pink, white and deep red. It retails for £85. For me, a great investment piece and a great alternative to the very popular Michael Kors purse which will set you back around £125.