Phone: 0844 499 3133
0

You have no items in your shopping cart.

section

Press Releases

The Guardian Media Network - 29th September 2014

Tech levels the playing field with multinationals for small businesses

With two people, the internet and a coffee machine, Charlotte Semler achieves what her first business did with twenty.
 
 

The deep and prolonged economic contraction has obscured the powerful positive effects of recent technology for small and start-up businesses.

I have set up two fashion retail businesses – Myla in 2001 and Charlotte & Co in 2007 – and we are now doing with two people, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), WeChat, WeTransfer and the cloud, in a single room what used to need 20 people over two floors.

New technologies have made my second business, Charlotte & Co, a relative nirvana to grow.

We are an e-commerce business but we have no tech know-how in house. Our website runs on an open-source Magento platform and it never occurs to me to worry whether the site is up or down. It is utterly stable, always has been. When e-commerce works, you are not spending on the increasingly expensive, increasingly rare high street locations that are still economically viable. Instead, we are free to invest in the parts of the business that the customer cares about: beautifully designed, high quality lingerie and lounge wear, and outstanding personal customer service.

We do not invest in expensive office space either because very few of our team actually come into the office to work. Instead we are enthusiastic users of remote working technologies: VoIP is an integral part of our daily processes. In fact, it has killed off the curse of big businesses: the hour-long meeting.

We recruit new team members in a location-blind manner via online forums and platforms such as People per Hour. Our financial director is still known as Charles S because that was how LinkedIn had shortened his name when we first went looking for someone to take the financial reins.

We can test new markets quickly and cheaply too; thank you Amazon for allowing us to discover that our designer pyjamas are a hit with the Germans.

With Dropbox and WeTransfer, we can use a supplier base that is as global as that of any multinational. We are manufacturing in Asia and Portugal, re-touching photography in India, using reprographic services in Leeds and printing our catalogues in Germany, all without ever getting on a plane. And it feels seamless. I am the CEO yet I also find time to create a hundred designs for each new collection. When I brief out a creative project I am as likely to hire a textile print designer in Amsterdam as in London.

The team's productivity is enhanced massively by our cultural emphasis on asynchronous communication – also known as email. Email is particularly valuable because we work with partners across time zones and with colleagues who work remotely and do not work the same hours as each other. This way of working has allowed us to tap the vast reservoir of highly skilled women who, for whatever reason, are no longer prepared to commit to a traditional corporate lifestyle.

We do all this without having an IT department and with a fraction of the number of people we would have needed a decade ago. The most complex machine in our office has a Nespresso logo on it. I cannot help but believe that many corporates must look at how much we achieve with so little resource and want to weep into their plastic cups of insipid vending machine coffee.

Charlotte Semler is Creative Director and CEO of Charlotte & Co. and Founder of Myla

 

 Charlotte has been selected as a mentor for 2011 Marie Claire Inspire & Mentor campaign! The campaign is covered in the June issue.

Charlotte Semler After co-founding lingerie company Myla, Charlotte Semler now runs her own company Charlotte and Co, which sells loungewear, nightwear and lingerie.

We caught up with her to talk inspiration and her experiences of mentoring ahead of our 2011 campaign.

What fired your ambition to start your own business?
I wanted to create a different brand with a new proposition to anything that was out there. There had never been a brand like Myla before, looking at sex in a classy way. Raising money was a major obstacle for us. Dealing with sex-related merchandise made it difficult to convince potential investors to come on board. It was much easier second time around!

What’s the best careers advice that you’ve been given?
Try and try again. There’s no substitute for hard work, but you also need a little bit of luck. When things start to go wrong, pick yourself up and start again.

What makes a good mentor?
Someone who makes you believe you can do it. A mentor needs to be able to give practical and constructive advice, as an entrepreneur.

More information can be found on their website:

http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/inspireandmentor/524167/charlotte-semler-2011-mentor.html

 

Essentials Magazine - March 

 

Among the products featured in their "Glamorous Nightwear" section were our best selling Cotton Flannel Pyjamas and our gorgeous Long Lace Chemise.

 

The Hill - Dec issue

 

Our Fabulous Metallic Leather Slippers were featured in "All I want for Christmas" - p.45

 

Read Article here

 

Easy Living Magazine - Dec issue

 

Our Fabulous Metallic Leather Slippers and Cotton Flannel Kimono Robe were featured in the "Present buying made easy" article.

 

 

Fashion's Night In: Are you ready?

We are taking part in VOGUE.COM's Fashion's Night on Monday 1st Nov, from 5pm.

 

 

Cotswold Style Magazine

October issue pages 74 & 75

See coverage here

 

Daily Mail - You Magazine

9th August 2010

 

Charlotte Semler

 

Five years ago, Charlotte Semler faced one of the toughest decisions of her career. She could juggle being a new mother of twins with the 24/7 culture that went with her role as co-founder of Myla, the lingerie company she created with business partner Nina Hampson in 2000, or she could step off and start again. She is now based in Gloucestershire with her husband Chris West, a writer, and twins Caspar and Clementine, five.

Walking away from Myla was both the hardest and easiest decision I have ever made. By 2005, we had a successful business but we had simply run out of cash to keep going. I had also just been through a very difficult time with the conception and birth of our twins, so when the investors took over, I thought to myself, ‘You get one life and you’re no longer enjoying it.’ Chris and I also realised that the only thing keeping us in London had been Myla, so we relocated to the countryside.

I loved the creative (rather than management) side of running Myla, so in 2008 I launched Charlotte & Co, a small mail-order business offering lounge- and nightwear at competitive prices. Working from home meant I had no need for posh shops with expensive overheads, and keeping it small gave me the time to design things properly. Now, I have an amazing group of women working with me, and we balance the demands of caring for children with working from our own front rooms. There are no set hours but lots of communication via e-mail — it’s about having trust in people being able to do their job in a grown-up, flexible way.


Charlotte & Co, tel: 0844 499 3133, charlotteandco.com


Read more from my home boardroom article

 

FT How to Spend It

9th August 2010

Good looks and a good night's sleep

 

Visit us at this year's Spirit of Christmas Fair

Spirit

Daily Mail Wish List

26th June 2010

Wishlist

 

 

 

 

 

Flair on a G-string - Times Online

25th April 2010

Charlotte's interview with Sunday Times Property

 

 How does Charlotte make it work?

14th March 2010

Charlotte's interview with Style Magazine

Style
 
Easy Living
Easy
Fashion Solutions
OK
 
The Telegraph
Times Style
Click on the images to view more