#GIRLBOSS Interview: Charlotte Elizabeth

Charlotte Elizabeth

Charlotte Elizabeth owns her own handbag business, which she set up with the help and support of The Prince's Trust.

Handcrafted in Britain, the bags and accessories are high-quality and classic. Recently, Meghan Markle was spotted with one!

Charlotte Elizabeth's is living proof that in spite of a disability, you can create the career you want and establish a business to call your own. Find out more about her and her handbag business.

Describe yourself in three words.
Creative, humble and caring.

What - or who - inspired you to start your handbag collection?
I vividly recall one evening when my sisters were trying on clothes along with their handbags. I had a lightening-bulb moment where I saw a beautifully classic designed handbag in my head, one that was distinctive upon other handbags, which I felt lacked true craftsmanship, exquisite material and simplistic yet unique design.

How has your disability inspired you?
Becoming disabled has been a challenge which admittedly has seemed too heartbreaking for me at points, and yet the learning about myself along with the more understanding and empathetic side of living that it has taught me has been totally invaluable. It has given me an opportunity to gain an understanding for those who I could never relate to before, all while surprisingly building my confidence to the best it’s ever been. If there’s one overall thing that being disabled has taught me it is that you are no less of a person than those who are deemed healthy.

How did you manage to get support from The Prince's Trust and how has The Prince's Trust helped you through your disability, and to launch your handbag collection?
I had a year before I became severely disabled where I was living with intense flu-like symptoms after a heart operation. All of my symptoms were frustratingly ‘unexplained’ to doctors which left me feeling hopeless about what my future anticipated. After hearing about The Trust from my sister, I took the opportunity of feeling small improvements in my health to enrol myself onto The Enterprise Course. Here, I spent four days learning the basics of running a business and exploring my ideas (I had a few, but my handbags were always the strongest!) I left the course feeling totally inspired to start my business, but a few weeks later I became paralysed. A year or so after The Trust let me start my business mentoring from home, and on from that point, I managed to secure financial backing from them. They have been so kind and accommodating to my health issues and I can’t thank them enough for giving catering so well to my needs.

What are the perks of running your own handbag collection?
The best thing about being my own boss is that I don't have to conclude decisions from anyone else, which of course has its advantages and disadvantages, but I have found this to be great creatively, as I feel if you believe enough that something is perfect then it probably is. Despite my health issues, for the first time since childhood, I now wake up happy, which I put down to the freeing amount of creativity which I live in each day, as well as making others happy and inspired.

Charlotte Elizabeth

What are the challenges of running your own handbag collection?
Not knowing or being able to control everything (which no one ever can!) Along the way I have had many obstacles thrown at me, for instance selling out of stock when a well-known lady requested one of my handbags and having the long-awaited order made incorrectly. Sometimes I do struggle with running this business alone, as I am admittedly no expert in any of it - yet every challenge I have faced has always taught me more than an easy day at work, so for that, I have come to love challenges more and more!

What's the one thing you've learned since running your handbag collection that you did not know before?
One of many things that I’ve learnt is how hard it is to source the correct suppliers and manufacturers - particularly in the handbag industry, it’s like finding a needle in the haystack!

For young ladies who want to start their own business, what advice would you give to them?
If you can’t stop dreaming about your idea and truly believe in it, then just do it! One thought that I wish more people would know is that the only thing standing between you and your dreams is fear.

Did you ever think you would be a #GIRLBOSS?
No, not at all!

You seem like such an empowered woman who has managed to overcome adversity in order to be the best woman you can be. What advice would you give to a #GIRLBOSS with a disability?
How lovely of you to say! One thing which changed my mindset on how I saw myself at my weakest state was to let your disability enable you rather than disable you. You can truly turn a negative into a positive, change your mindset on how you see your illness and learn to love everything about your body, including the worst parts.

*Thank you to Charlotte for taking part in this interview. Check out Charlotte Elizabeth here.

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