Soooo… If you’ve caught my Instagram stories, videos for Cherry Creek Fashion and/or just have seen me basically at any point this past year, you will recognize the striped turtleneck sweatshirt I wear constantly. This genius article of clothing is designed and made by local designer, Anna Ferry of Charlie and Me Designs. I am such a huge fan of hers, both professionally and personally, I have my friend Alexa Allen to thank for introducing us! Quick side story before we start the interview… The day that I rolled up to her house to get my beloved striped sweatshirt, I realized that I recognized her house! Turns out my family had Air BnB’ed her place the second Christmas we lived in Boulder since we didn’t have much space in our rental! Small world, right? We bonded over our shared interest in fashion and sustainability, being working moms not wanting to burn ourselves out and our love for obscure reality TV shows!
Anna, as you know, I adore your work. It really stands out in a marketplace full of local designers and makers. How did you come to designing clothes?
When I was little my room had one wall which was only a ¾ wall and on the other side was my mum’s sewing nook. At night my mum would sew us clothes, and it was the sound of her sewing machine that would lull me to sleep. Soon she began teaching me how to sew, firstly dolls clothes, which turned into clothes for myself, and then when my 1st daughter was born, turned into clothes for her. After a few years of designing and sewing girls clothing it was through the encouragement of friends that I decided to venture into designing a few pieces for women, other than myself, somewhat of a daunting venture to say the least. Then last year in 2018 I decided to focus my attention solely on women’s clothing and designing pieces that I loved and hopefully others would too. So far it’s worked out.
Do you think designing in Colorado affects and/or informs your design process? I’m going to ask the question I ALWAYS hated getting…. but here we go…. Where do you find your inspiration?
I definitely think living in Boulder has an affect on my design process. I love the outdoors and a lot of my wardrobe consists of versatile pieces that I can wear everyday, to pick up the kids, go on a hike, or dress up for a semi-fancy dinner. That being said I want my designs to be pieces that women can feel great in but not protective of, pieces that they actually wear everyday, not just once in a blue moon. I am all about comfort and ease of care and designing clean lined pieces that can be easily paired with a woman’s existing wardrobe. Quality and versatility not quantity is certainly a focus.
As for inspiration that’s a tough one. I’d have to say my Australian upbringing for sure. It’s stunning wildlife, the bush, beautiful beaches and my family. I am also very drawn to the beautiful work and style of the Japanese and Swedish cultures. Their clean lines and attention to detail always inspires and motivates me to work and rework each design it until I love it.
We’ve spoken about your approach to fashion in regard to sustainability. How does that affect the way you source your materials and build your brand?
In the past I loved buying beautiful fabrics and was once told that “the woman who dies with the most fabric wins”, over the years however I’ve learned more and more about the actual process of where most of our fabrics come from, how they are produced, and how this affects this amazing earth which we’ve been given. When I decided to focus solely on women’s clothing I came to the conclusion that if I was going to contribute to the fashion industry I wanted to do it in a conscientious way that would help support organic and environmentally sustainable practices, a slower fashion movement, and maybe in some small way encourage the consumer to actually question where their clothing is coming from, and who is making it.
One of the things that I think is really important to note is that you do literally everything from beginning to end for each piece. Of course the actual time to do all this on your own brings up the concept of balance. I’ve been privy to some conversations recently where its been pointed out that “balance” is a concept that has been pushed on to women, particularly working mothers. Do you have any thoughts on this?
I’m a bit of a control freak so finding balance, which sometimes means giving up control, is a bit tricky for me. I’m trying to get better about not worrying about tomorrow, no-one will die if their dress arrives one day later, it’s ok to say no, having realistic expectations of myself based on my own abilities, and trying to maintain focus on what really matters in my life and not get sidetracked. That being said I now have someone else grade all my patterns and it’s been the most amazing thing EVER!!!
You’ve mentioned pulling back on all the pop-ups and markets that you participated in last year to focus on selling your line with independent retailers or through your online shop. What is your insight into the differences in these different platforms?
I have loved participating in the local markets but it does take a lot of time away from family, often requires a high financial and time commitment and doesn’t necessarily always pay off. I am trying to be more deliberate with my time and focus more attention on reaching the right audience for my clothing, sometimes with an intimate one day pop-up or through reaching out to stores that promote a sustainable lifestyle. I LOVE the one-on-one time I get with customers at the pop-up’s but having pieces in brick and mortar stores allows me to reach a larger audience.
I have found getting into stores is not always that easy, but I’m of the thought pattern that the right stores will come around at the right time and not to rush things. As for online, I do have a website and would love for sales through this avenue to increase but I also understand that online shopping for clothing is hard and there is so much out there it’s hard not to get lost in the sea of online fashion boutiques.
We both share a personality trait that doesn’t serve our businesses well….. shyness in certain situations. When you listen to founder or business podcasts, they make it all sound so easy. Have you found ways to approach retailers to sell your line, or are you working on getting out of your own way like I am?
It’s certainly a humbling experience approaching retailers. I love the work I do but that doesn’t mean everyone will. I’ve sent emails with no response, followed up with phone calls, still no response. When I do get a response it’s very exciting, and motivating. I try to not let the silence bother me and remember I’m doing this because I love it and not necessarily because I want Charlie + Me in every store across the country, although that would be kinda cool!
Anna thank you so much for giving me your precious time to talk and do this interview! I’m so excited to get a few of your pieces for the warmer months ahead. I’m going to close out with my favorite rapid fire questions..
Favorite Food/ Dish to order: Chocolate Mousse
Favorite Apps: Google Translate
Favorite Podcast: Tim Keller
Favorite Swear Word: Mother F$#^**
What advice would you give your 20 year old self? Don’t put too much thought into what other people think about you.
To check Charlie and Me Designs out, click through to the below links!