How I Made It: ‘I turned my hobby into a thriving business’


HIMI: handbag restorer

There’s a large amount of dollars in restoring items (Photograph: Handbag Clinic/ isles)

Welcome back to How I Produced It,’s collection wanting at intriguing task journeys.

With the sustainable pre-beloved marketplace developing, this week we’re talking to Charlotte Staerck, CEO and co-founder of Handbag Clinic, who restores tattered, worn and stained baggage to their previous glory, and sells pre-owned designer finds.

For the 32-year-old, it definitely is a labour of appreciate, as she’s been obsessively discovering all there is to know about baggage due to the fact the age of 16.

By means of prospect, she achieved her now husband who worked in the restoring business enterprise – but he knew very little about passion at the time.

Together they took a leap of religion and Charlotte occupation switched from getting in prescribed drugs to primary a start-up.

She credits him with helping her get some first start out up revenue – which is an critical truth to accept, as the street isn’t effortless when placing up a business and sourcing cash.

Talking to, she claims: ‘I knew in my heart that my correct passion was for luxurious handbags and it felt instinctively right to quit my work and commence in excess of.’

Charlotte managed anything a lot of of us only aspiration of: turning your passion into a career.

Here’s how she made it transpire:

Hey Charlotte. Why did you get into the handbag industry?

I have been obsessed with handbags eternally.

I’m not absolutely sure why, I grew up in a tiny village exterior of Newcastle, and my mum wasn’t intrigued at all.

But, I don’t forget, when I acquired a Saturday work, I’d stare at them by way of the home windows – and, as quickly I could, I bought my 1st manufacturer-named bag: a product Luella tote, at 18, which I imagined was the finest point ever.

How did the fascination in restoring merchandise appear about?

That bag quickly received lined in dye transfer from my denims and a colleague explained to me there was a area enterprise, The Home furnishings Clinic, that did repairs.

She gave me their range, but I dropped the piece of paper.

If I experienced long gone, it turns out I’d have achieved my potential spouse, Ben, two many years before than I did.

He’d designed up that business enterprise with his father restoring household furniture and leather residence products.

Sooner or later I fulfilled him at a bar in Newcastle and quickly we began operating collectively to restore baggage.

charlotte at work

Charlotte now has a workforce of restorers (Photograph: Purse Clinic)

So, what were being you undertaking before this stage – you will have to have career switched?

At the time, I was on a fast-keep track of occupation path acquiring risen through local governing administration ranks to be appointed as a Senior Purchaser of pharmaceutical and clinical products for the NHS.

I was fiercely unbiased and my career was heading from strength to toughness but my enthusiasm was often luxurious purses – I would commit ages searching the preowned current market and buying and promoting at the ideal time so I could covet the most current ‘it’ bag.

Was it scary to make the profession swap?

I was often tremendous unbiased and I’d labored hard to get wherever I was in my job so it wasn’t a snap final decision I made overnight.

The changeover began when I labored with Ben to pivot the household furniture restoration business enterprise into an offshoot for luxury purses.

As demand from customers for that grew and I observed how this right impacted the resale value, I realized there was a apparent hole in the market.

When I was set on this conclusion, I started out researching non-quit, for about a year, right until I knew all the things there was to probably know about baggage.

Ben served raise financial investment funds for Handbag Clinic while supporting on technique.

We started financial investment raising originally through crowdfunding again in 2018 and lifted over £300,000. In the summertime last 12 months, we secured an £800k financial commitment.

And at initial, I could not consider how financially rewarding it was. For case in point, I created £200 on a weakened velvet Gucci cross-human body bag.

What is it that you appreciate about bags and restoring them?

Restoration do the job is genuinely a labour of really like and we get to see items being brought again to everyday living that may well have normally been discarded – seeing the amazement and pleasure this provides our purchasers seriously is priceless.

Typically clients do not assume it is attainable to restore their item to its former glory and however, to us, it’s an everyday event.

Just one shopper I will hardly ever forget is a lady who unintentionally ruined her Jimmy Choo marriage sneakers just times ahead of the wedding day.

A earlier bag her workforce have been tasked with restoring (Image: Handbag Clinic)

We set these for her in time for her big day and she was overjoyed.

Another client, very last calendar year, brought in her Chanel GST bag – she definitely believed it was beyond mend.

The bag was gifted to her from her spouse so it had massive sentimental value.

What do you know now about constructing a company you desire you knew in advance of?

I would almost certainly have said to myself – be geared up to perform tougher than you at any time dreamed possible and for it to consider more than your full lifetime.

Results doesn’t arrive right away – the ascent to your eyesight is lengthy and steep but only you can see it so really don’t be far too tricky on by yourself.

I would also say to have a path but keep on being open minded and versatile.

As a founder functioning in the sustainability enterprise, I’ve also learnt that it is really vital to lead by case in point.

You can discuss the speak but you also have to wander the wander.

I am generally striving to ensure sustainability is ingrained in every approach inside our small business – from the products we use, to the packaging we ship items out – we preserve squander to an absolute minimum amount.

I even go to the extremes of fishing out recycling that has been set in the mistaken bin and locating the culprit!

An common working day in the working everyday living of Charlotte Staerck

7am: The day starts with checking e-mail and a yoga session in the yard.

9am: Charlotte picks up a espresso en route to the place of work.

10am: Meetings with management to go over day to working day functions and operating closely with the getting crew to critique incoming baggage.

1pm: Lunchtime.

Charlotte Staerck

Hard at get the job done (Image: Charlotte Staerck)

2pm: Much more meetings and staying on hand for the workforce through the afternoon.

6pm: Doggy strolling to unwind from the day.

What do you enjoy most about the position?

I like establishing our workforce of passionate young people and looking at them grow on their profession paths inside the Clinic.

I actually consider your staff is your most vital asset.

We all perform tirelessly and we’re all aligned with the exact same eyesight and you cannot even begin to set a price tag on that.

And what do you dislike?

We see so many shoppers convey in luggage that in all probability only at first desired a smaller £50 deal with – but due to the fact they have employed the wrong products or strain when cleansing, they require drastically far more perform.

There are some terrifying cleaning hacks out there on-line – from utilizing infant wipes, to washing up liquid and vinegar to carry stains.

These are all myths and trigger a lot more damage.

Do you have an exciting career journey?

E mail [email protected] isles to share your story.

Extra : How I Made It: ‘I was informed I’d quantity to nothing at all – now I’m a well known sculptor’

Much more : How I Built It: ‘I’m a costume maker for Television and London’s West Close shows’

A lot more : How I Designed It: ‘I’m 1 of the UK’s handful of courtroom artists, sketching out the major stars and stories’


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