Fashion Friday: In conversation with Queen Camilla's handbag designer
Charlotte Jones reveals how indebted she is to the royals
Hello, Royal Clubbers! I am very excited to bring this week's Fashion Friday to you. I first spoke with Charlotte Jones, designer of Charlotte Elizabeth handbags, in 2019.
At that time, it had been a year since the then future Duchess of Sussex stepped off a plane in Northern Ireland, carrying the brand's signature Bloomsbury bag in the chestnut colourway.
Within minutes of Meghan being photographed with her Charlotte Elizabeth bag, sales were up over 45,000 per cent in 24 hours, and many other styles were put on pre-order for six months due to the demand.
"I will always appreciate what Meghan did for me and my company," Charlotte says. "For her to wear it on one of her final public engagements before she married Harry was incredible.
"It was the moment where I thought, 'Oh, my goodness, wow, I've got a proper business now'. And this is on a global stage now where people may know my bags that I've designed from my bedroom.
"It was a lot to take in. And suddenly you have to scale so quickly to meet the demand. That was a massive learning curve. But something I hugely appreciate."
I owe everything to them
Meghan isn’t the only royal who is a fan of the brand which had sold bags in more than 70 countries within two years of launching; both Zara Tindall, and Queen Camilla on last year’s state visit to France have been photographed with one in tow.
That the Queen wore one holds an even deeper significance for Charlotte than the attendant publicity boost. Why, I hear you ask? Well Charlotte’s career was made possible by the support of Camilla’s husband and his Prince’s Trust.
“I did a four-day workshop in 2014, learning how to do a business plan, how to create a brand, and how to provide customer service – and that whole opportunity enabled me to create Charlotte Elizabeth,” she says. “I received a £3000 loan from the trust that helped me buy my first 40 handbags which were made in Somerset. Without that, I couldn't have had a brand. So I owe everything to them."
Charlotte recalls the moment Queen Camilla carried the Mayflower-style bag during last year’s state visit to France.