Understand and study your market and category carefully. Think through as many options as possible before jumping into a new business.
Charlotte founded Plum Pretty Sugar a decade ago taking inspiration from a West Coast backdrop of easy living chic. From Southern California (by way of the UK), Charlotte is the originator and pioneer of the now global multi-million dollar bridal ‘getting ready’ category and her brand, Plum Pretty Sugar holds steadfast as its leader. Now much more than ‘getting ready,’ her innovative and against the grain thinking has created a product mix and visual identity well-known for it’s effortless, fresh and feminine lifestyle.
Charlotte holds several advanced degrees in Business, Communication and separately, a degree in Fashion. She is an experienced entrepreneur in both luxury beauty and consumer product industries having both founded and developed several companies and brands prior to Plum Pretty Sugar. In addition, Charlotte has held several positions in Marketing for consumer product companies including Kraft Foods and Balance Bar prior to becoming an entrepreneur. She is committed to two causes; anti-domestic violence and environmental sustainability. These purposes purpose align closely with her personal story.
She enjoys spending time with her husband and two children (Richard, age 5 and Delphine, age 2) and is more than likely wearing PJ pants and a white tee cuddled up on the master bed.
Where did the idea for Plum Pretty Sugar come from?
Plum Pretty Sugar was actually borne from a previous business I owned. The earlier business was in the beauty category which often meant interacting with other related categories. One of the most successful was the robe and loungewear category. When I sought ideas for my next business, robes and loungewear immediately came forward. From there, the idea lived in my heart for a period of time before I really began executing. I spent time really looking at the existing category and thinking through new and unexpected marketing platforms to go forward. It was that time and that thinking that created the bridesmaid robe category (as well as a few other things we’re actually working on now!)
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
These days I’m up early… 5:30-6 to get to key emails, issues and more. I try to spend a portion of breakfast with my kids, packing their lunches and getting them dressed and ready for the day. I’m fortunate to have a team that lets me get out the door to the office from there. I tend to spend mornings focused on business and the afternoons on the creative side. In the evenings, I try to focus on my husband and kids and then get back to emails and unresolved business after they are asleep. It’s not always as easy as it sounds but focus and drive keeps me on task.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am surrounded by an amazing team who understands my idea language. I work hard to delegate but to also be a part of the process.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love sustainability and everything it stands for. I also obsess over color trends and accessory trends in the industry. They’re constantly changing and on a personal level, make me happy.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m innately driven and thoughtful. There’s never a moment I’m not thinking about some of part of the business. Sometimes, the thinking is very forward and top of mind, others it’s in my gut and the back of my mind. And other times completely innate… I’m taking in everything at all times. I also have a photographic memory for many aesthetic things. And my husband will laugh, but I can tell if a photo hanging on a wall is ¼” off and not straight. I see and remember details.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry! Don’t let the mean people get to you! This is still extremely hard for me as I’m always looking and trying to understand the “why.” But as I get older I realize truth, hard work and good intention is real and pays off. That the universe has a plan and karma is real.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’m really 5’ 4.’ People either think I’m shorter, my 6’ 5” husband, or taller because I’m always in heels.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Listen to your gut. There are numerous times when I’ve gone against it… and it was always the wrong decision. Learn what really is your gut decision and how to find it and then to trust it. Sometimes I have a weird feeling about something and I can’t figure out the what or why. Time and time again, it is my gut and the build up to it telling me something. It’s amazing!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Not being afraid to adjust, move and turn a strategy when it needs it. And recognizing when and what that point is. I spend a ton of time working my business and it keeps me close. I feel its rhythms, its sounds, and its needs. And I get excited about new strategies. They motivate me.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Trusting the wrong people. Difficult to overcome but I go back to the universe and its grand plan for us all.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Yes! Uber pool for errands. Unlike an assistant or a concierge service, a pool that you can use virtually to execute errands to the drugstore, dry cleaners etc. It would require some logistics but please… someone! Errands are not my thing.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Starbucks. I load up in $100s.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We recently started using Wrike to manage creative development with one of our partners. Still learning… but it’s an easy way to streamline projects.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
This is Marketing by Seth Godin. All Seth’s books are insightful, this one however changed my long-term thinking on a few things. It puts a new spin on old marketing strategies.
What is your favorite quote?
I love quotes. One of the shorter ones: “We are not in control of what lessons others are here to learn.” By Danielle Doby
To me it’s about going forward regardless of others. It’s confidence and the bravery to choose yourself, your family, your business regardless of what others do, how they feel and whether they are operating in truth or fiction. Go forward anyway.
- Understand and study your market and category carefully. Think through as many options as possible before jumping into a new business.
- Listen to your gut.
- Business evolves, don’t be afraid to create new strategies.
- There will be naysayers, mean people, untruthful people. Feel it but go on. The universe has your back.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.