Spotlight on Charles Tottenham
Today's Spotlight is Charles Tottenham, Joe and Paul's interior collection based on access to Paul's great grandfather, adventurer Charles Tottenham, collection at the Natural History museum. Beautifully designed scarfs, cushions, gifts and prints, go hear the journey about how this brand got started.
You can shop their collection here.
About Charles Tottenham
The illustrative interiors brand is an exploration of the natural world; drawing inspiration from botanical field note illustrations and studies of the Tottenham Entomology Collection, alongside Joe & Paul’s own expeditions of iconic travel & exotic hotel architecture.
The pair enjoy unprecedented access to expedition collections of Paul’s Great Grandfather; the celebrated Entomologist & Adventurer, Charles Tottenham (1895 - 1977), including the revered Tottenham Entomology Collection, housed at the Natural History Museum in London, England
With this inspiration, co-founders and designers Joseph Stefanko & Paul Charles have imagined an interior world steeped in style, creativity, family history & provenance; presenting an illustrated lifestyle range of fine giclee prints, printed silks, greetings cards & gift items
Hand illustrated in the Charles Tottenham atelier, printed & made in England.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
It was important for us to utilize our creativity in a way that truly meant something to us. We want what we work on and create to have substance.
We look at family heritage and interior design, two things that we hold important and close to our heart – the pieces we create from this are unique and compelling.
2. How did you start up?
Our initial range evolved naturally; we were spending nights in our studio making illustrations and creating pieces – it felt very organic and right. From there we threw ourselves into developing our vision, which was clear & unified.
3. How did you fund your business?
We made it work – we believe that if there’s something you truly want to do, you’ll find the ways to make it happen. We started Charles Tottenham to create what we believed in, that was our constraint. The rest fell into place.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business?
We haven’t come across too many hurdles. We’re experienced in our fields, and don’t feel we’re fighting against something that’s not natural to us.
We have so many ideas we want to develop and projects we want to work on that we find we’re always wishing there were more hours in the day. All the hard work has come from love, and when working hard is creating beautiful things it’s all good.
5. What help was missing for you?
Help from Charles Tottenham himself! It’s been inspiring delving into his world and meeting others who deal with his specimens daily. The common thread is how we’d have loved to have met him and would have asked him so many questions.
6. What went wrong in your first year?
We’ve learnt and developed. We’ve become more focused. We realized we were wasting a lot of output on stuff that wasn’t truly important. Stopping them reduced stress and bought more space to focus, develop and produce better work.
7. What have you learnt?
A brand can have a check list placed on it, but checking the boxes won’t bring you success or happiness. We’ve learnt to believe in ourselves more, to trust in our vision and goals.
8 . What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others?
The single most important thing is to trust your instincts. Be true to yourself, be what you want to be and the rest will fall into place.
9. What do you enjoy the most?
Seeing the final creations out and about – be it in magazines, people sharing images on social media or stores with product in – it’s just great to run into your own work in the real world. It makes it all worth while.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
We’d suggest a 5. It’s about the balance really – it’s as hard or as easy as you want it to be. We believe if you’re doing something you are genuinely good at, then it shouldn’t be hard. The creative side we find natural, the business side is more learned.
Nicola says; "Here Joe and Paul have experience of running the type of business they have just launched so perhaps don't have the challenges I see with other creative business owners. However, they highlight an important message and that is one of focus; you can have a million ideas but there are not enough hours in the day to fulfil them all. Take your time, build your products, don't try to do it all at once, you may fail on quality, design or branding if you rush things"
The Girl with The Green Sofa