I first met Charlotte (unknowingly) at The Good Life Experience in 2017. I had a stall there alongside other great artisans such as Mabli, Nellie & Eve and Monty & Co. It is a wonderful festival organised by Cerys Matthews and Charlie Gladstone.
But it wasn’t until September 2018 when I stumbled across a comment left on The Hendersons Instagram post about our Makers’ Balm, that I discovered she was such a fan of Old Faithful skincare. A glowing testimonial which went..
“Makers balm is my absolute favourite, it smells incredible and has been a lifesaver whilst I've been renovating my new house. Had my jar over a year now, it lasts forever!”
Charlotte, a PR Manager for a London department store, lives with her husband Rik and Margot the dachshund. Rik is a Property Manager for a Sussex heritage site. They are renovating and living in a Victorian property in Brighton, a stone’s throw away from the beach and independent shops and restaurants.
We get to know Charlotte a little, learn how the Victorian renovation is taking shape and talk about her preference for natural skincare..
PR Manager for a department store sounds like an interesting role. What you enjoy most about your job?
The people I work with are amazing and inspiring. It makes such a difference to work with a great team! I love the variety in projects from month to month and get to do unusual things like being able to get inside the Christmas windows!
What you enjoy doing most in your spare time?
For me there's nothing I enjoy more than a long dog walk either on Brighton seafront or out at a national trust property, ending with a coffee and a slice of cake, of course.
What are your main interests/hobbies?
I love photography and moving image. I did a videography course with Xanthe Berkeley a few years ago and have tried to keep up making short films of friends, family and places I visit. I film every day, even if it's just for a few seconds, and it's a great way of looking back on different events and day to day life in more detail than you would remember.
What is taking up most of your time at the moment?
Probably a combination of commuting to work from Brighton - London (feel like I'm always either on a train or a platform) and renovating the house!
What are you favourite types of cuisine?
Dim sum and proper American smokehouse BBQ.
Both me and Rik were born and grew up in Brighton, so our families and lots of friends were there already. The majority of our London friends have moved away over the past few years and we wanted more space and a garden, so it seemed like the right time to move back. There’s no way we could’ve afforded to buy in London, so as many people do, it was time to move further afield.
Where did you move from?
We lived in London for about 13 years, most recently in Notting Hill for 10 years, where my grandad was born.
What type of house is it?
It's an 1840s Victorian terrace.
What is important to you in the renovation process?
That we do as much as we can ourselves. Anything I’m able to do myself without paying someone to come in and do the better. It’s so much more satisfying, especially when you see the difference from start to finish, and you’d be surprised at how easy lots of things are to DIY.
What style are you doing this in?
Currently, we’re doing room by room, stripping it back to basics, fixing any snags (some bigger than others!) and painting most of it white. Just to give you an idea, when we moved in every single room was painted various shades green, lots were covered in textured wallpaper, the whole hallway and staircase was covered in artex. I don’t think the house had been touched for decades, so it’s needed a lot of elbow grease and hard work to make it liveable again, so lots of filling, sanding, stripping paint and basic repairs. Painting each room white isn’t so much of a style choice but it’s all we can really afford currently, and we wanted to live in each room, look at the natural light etc, before deciding to paint them a specific colour.
Any tips or recommendations for renovating a house?
If you have the luxury of taking time off to decorate then definitely do so. Likewise if you don’t need to move in straight away, and can tackle refurbishments over a period of time before moving your belongings in, that’s even better. We know a few people who have been able to do this and it’s a lot easier rather than working around furniture and ‘stuff’. We took a week off work to try and plough through as much as we could before moving in. With the help of our parents, we managed to get the living room and bedroom up to a liveable state within a week, as well as tackling the jungle that was the garden and dog-proofing it. Decorating is much more fun when you have two of you working at the same time. A large room can seem never ending if you tackle it alone! Prep takes the longest, but is really key, as is the right equipment and materials. Taking short cuts will only add time in the long run!
When should it all be complete?
The million dollar question! Who knows, I’m hoping we’ll have most rooms looking half decent by the end of this year, bearing in mind we’re working with a 70s time-warp currently! But we do have longer term plans to knock through walls and make the living / dining space larger, but that will involve us moving radiators and replastering, so it wasn’t practical to tackle when we first moved in. I think when you buy a ‘do-er upper’ that you intend to live in for a decent length of time (we’re hoping to be here for at least 10 years) then you never really stop making changes and improvements.
What has been your favourite part of renovating the house?
Ripping up the horrible green carpet in the master bedroom to find original floorboards was great. It was the first room that we tackled and was actually really useful knowing we were getting rid of the carpet so we didn’t need to put down dust sheets whilst sanding and painting. It also made for a really satisfying before and after to go from a dingy wallpapered room with green carpet, to white washed walls and wooden floors within a matter of days so it felt like a real transformation. Things often take weeks or sometimes months before there’s a noticeable difference, so when something happens quickly it’s a happy feeling!
Have you had to make any compromises due to difference in style/opinion with you and your partner?
Not yet as we haven’t really got down to the nitty gritty of décor choices and we lived together for 10 years previously so furniture wise we’ve just moved it all down. The only minor debate we had was over the hallway wall colour.
The Good Life Experience was a great opportunity to discover new independent brands and makers. I was drawn to the simple, monochromatic logo of Old Faithful as I’m a sucker for a good logo! I also really love more typically masculine scents which Old Faithful use so well.
Which Old Faithful Products Do you use?
I bought the Maker’s Balm at the Good Life which I’ve been using ever since. A little goes such a long way so I’m only just coming to the end of my first jar even though I’ve had it for over a year. I also really want to try the Hammam moisturising serum.
Do you have any favourites?
Obviously the Maker’s Balm!
What is it you like most about Old Faithful products?
The combination of the quality and function of the product with the scent. The moisturising butters combined with the vetiver and bergamot oils make for such a luxurious product that is truly a pleasure to use.
What are the main benefits you get from our Makers’ Balm?
I mainly use the balm on my hands at night before going to sleep, but it’s been a real lifesaver after a day painting, especially when using oil based paints as you generally have to use harsh chemicals to get the paint off! It’s the only thing that lasts, that my hands don’t just soak up immediately after application.
Is using natural as opposed to conventional skincare important to you and why?
Over the past year I’ve been making a conscious effort to switch out products for natural alternatives, like using natural oils in place of moisturisers and night creams. I’ve also been actively looking for products with less packaging, such as shampoo bars. I’ve found that natural products generally last a lot longer than mass produced, chemical filled alternatives.
What brands do you normally use?
In terms of skincare and I use a lot of products from Lush, I also have a few products I use from Aesop. I like the scents they use, the glass packaging and the fact they last a long time.
How does your skincare purchase decisions relate to your overall World view/values?
Having worked in retail in one capacity or another since the age of 15, consumerism and purchasing attitudes have always been an interest of mine. Over the past 10 years there’s definitely been a shift in consumer interest towards finding out where products come from, the ethics behind them, and a greater interest in taking responsibility for where our money goes. Supporting independent businesses is really important to me, where possible, for everything I purchase. I would much rather buy something either that someone has made themselves, put passion and research into, or in real life at an independent shop or fair, talk to the shopkeeper / owner, learn about the product, hear the story of the brand or product and carry it away with me, rather than a one click purchase on Amazon to save a few £££. Most of the gifts me and my husband bought for friends and family this Christmas were from independents around Brighton. There’s no good complaining when the sweet little boutiques that give our towns personality close down, if you don’t support them.