June 2017 | Sofia Simeonidou
I didn't know Charlotte Wooning but I knew her beautiful jewellery. I jumped at the opportunity to have her story featured @newstardom. She comes across as a rational, and straight to the point person. Previously a school teacher, I feel Charlotte's a bit like her designs, unpretentious, with a flexible flow. She's a rational creative. I like that.
What did you study?
I studied fashion at The Royal Academy of Art here in Rotterdam.
Why a jewellery designer?
It was hard to find a job after graduation. I had the urge to be creative though so I started with accessories. I was invited to a jewellery exhibition and I was, "Yes, that’s something I want to do." The materials fascinated me, I had so many ideas. I like the diversity, the different techniques, and the challenge to work with silver and gold and give them the shape I want. And it’s fashion related. That’s where I come from.
Did you always know?
As a child I was always making stuff with my hands, I was good with details. It was and is my passion. I really like to work with my hands.
I couldn’t find work right after graduation, so I started working as a schoolteacher. Then 5 years later, I decided it was time for my next step. During my teaching years, designing was always my side gig. So I decided I had to put more energy into it and move on to become a full-time owner. I have many people working for me now. Graduate designers. I like that, it's part of my designing process to talk with my co-workers. We co-create the new pieces.
A businesswoman or an artist?
The businesswoman part is growing. I have to be more of a manager nowadays. And to be honest, I don’t see a designer as an artist. I never see myself as an artist. An artist makes things based on own emotions. I create for a person. I create with a person in mind. I'm a designer, and a business owner, but business matters take more of my daily time now. It's inevitable.
How do you define (professional) success?
Money is not the goal but of course, I enjoy getting paid for doing what I love doing. Success is when people want to have something you make. It’s an honour. People come to me on their special occasions, for a wedding ring, a special birthday present. We create something together. I’m part of their moment, of their journey. It’s that special feeling. That's success to me.
Success is when people want something you make.
From designing till taking it to the market, what’s the most challenging bit?
Creating something new. That’s the challenging part. I have to come up with something that isn’t there yet. At the beginning, I never know where I’m going. I need to start so that I can get it going. I’m not a sketch artist. I want to do prototypes with my hands, work with it, decide the dimensions. Once this part is done, I need my colleagues to give me feedback and take it to the next level. It takes weeks, I need to put it away, pick it up later. It needs to grow. It's a demanding process.
How do you cope with it?
If it doesn’t work, I stop. And I ask for feedback. Always ask for feedback.
Everyday struggles when running your own business?
I’m a perfectionist. I take it personally. I want all my clients to be happy. My business is about people, it’s people oriented. If you buy jewellery from me, you buy a piece of me. So sometimes it’s difficult to draw the line between business and personal.
How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Delicate, feminine, contemporary.
Do you follow the trends?
I follow them, I know what’s trending. I feel no pressure though. I trust myself. I know my collection will be in style either way.
Is it about talent?
You do need talent. But you need perseverance more. And you can’t stay the same. You need to change, everything around us changes. You should be willing to evaluate your business, self-reflect, change directions if necessary.
Where do you get your inspiration?
From people. From what they’re wearing, from the way they’re wearing it. I always observe people. I also read magazines. But I’m mostly inspired by other jewellery. I’m not a conceptual designer. I don’t see a cloud and get inspired by it. In any case, every ear is different so it’s difficult to talk about abstract inspiration. That’s why I prefer to see my client, that’s very inspiring for me in order to create the right piece for the right person. We have a shop in Rotterdam and I like it when I can see my clients face-to-face.
How do you decompress?
I have a rule, no email app on my phone. I don’t check my phone when I’m at home or when it’s weekend. And that works for me. I also like to go to the gym whenever I have some time and I like to walk home. Moving is amazing. If I could, I’d exercise every day. Everything goes away, every worry.
Favourite holiday destination?
Switzerland or Italy. I love lake and mountain views!
Why in Rotterdam?
I come from Rotterdam. I studied here. I live here 20 years. It’s like a big village, and people are straightforward. It's my place now.
What are you working on at the moment?
I need to get started with my new collection (summer and winter). The new collection will be in the shops in September for retailers to buy. Really excited about it! It’s a bit different than the clothes collections that are out a season earlier. With us, you can order and it takes 6 weeks to deliver.