Whilst exploring social media I “met” Charlie, & I have never looked back. Her creations immediately drew me in, & I found myself placing her pages at the top of my “to view” list for the day so I could keep up to date with what she was making & ensure I didn’t miss out on anything. When I finally got the courage to actually reach out & make contact with this lovely lady, my heart simply exploded with love. You see, Charlie is not only an amazingly talented South African woman, but she is also someone who truly cares about everyone & wants to empower others.
This feature has been a long time coming & I am so thrilled to finally be able to introduce you to the one & only CHARLIE LOVES STUDIO.
Your name: Charlene Stothers
Your business name: Charlie Loves
Social media handles: Facebook and Instagram
What do you do: A stay at home mama to Little Red (4 years) and Little Snow (2 years) and I design and handcraft artisinal dolls for Charlie Loves. Its all about loving what I do and sharing the love. I’m a doll making mama with a cause 🙂 Aristotle said that “At the intersection where your gifts, talents and abilities meet a human need, there-in you will discover your purpose”. I love this quote. Part of my cause is using my gifts to empower women in townships and use a portion of the sales to raise funds to feed children in need.
How did you get into this: I suppose the dream began in a little girl (a.k.a. Charlie), during a time when imaginative adventures were lived through Enid Blyton books, dreams could be had and anything was possible. Off-course as time passed, the dream was shadowed by grown up ambition and responsibilities. But be that as it may, the magic still lingered . . .The glow of the embers of Charlie Loves was “accidentally” fanned during a difficult time when I experienced the pain of losing one I love so dearly. It was during this time that sweet and unassuming Little Red asked for a Unicorn Doll. A world of creativity became a comforting distraction, and the small sweet arms of my 3 year old “Little Red” and 1 year “Little Snow” brought inspiration, hope and purpose. Life was precious, relationships mattered and I knew it…purpose drove me, to be true to myself and make a difference to others. The more I created, the more I found myself lost in a familiar and wonderful world of playful delight, imagination and creativity . . . It brings such delight to me and my own children, I knew I had something that I had to share …
How long have you been doing this for: I tested the market in December 2017 just before Christmas and after the astounding success and acceptance of Primrose the Unicorn, I made a decision to pursue Charlie Loves at the end of January 2018. It was only until recently that I decided that I am going to pursue this with intent as a social entrepreneur. It was and still is a scary thing to commit to – now I cannot fail, I have a couple of women and a bigger cause that is depending on our success. No pressure 🙂
What did you do before this: I’m a Risk Manager by profession, but have taken a sabbatical for the last 4 years to be a stay at home mom and part time photographer. The nudge was however circumstantial and one that I am grateful for. When I was 9 months pregnant, the company I was working for was restructuring. It was a bit bitter sweet as uncertainty and change is always scary. But fortune favors the bold. I took my voluntary severance package and my priority remained on our young family. My husband and I made the necessary sacrifices and I am so so grateful for his support. I must admit that the biggest struggle at this time was one of significance and the words unemployed made it worse. However in life there are many seasons and we should always see opportunities and continue to make choices that drive us forward towards our goals. I dont know if Primrose would ever have been born if it wasn’t for my role as mama and my break from the corporate scene. With my youngest baby reaching the 2 year old milestone, I am now more open to consulting opportunities and pursuing my creative dreams and purpose.
Why do you think handmade is better: Oh I love this question. Because so much of heart and love goes into handcrafted items. Handcrafted items are special and unique – they are not mass produced and they take many hours – the consumer knows that so it lends to a bespoke feel. One of the comments I will never forget is someone looking at what I do, and saying, “its a work of art!” – Blow me away why don’t you 🙂 No two pieces are ever identical and I can vouch for that myself – I tried.
Now when I see a maker at a market – I value their creation their effort and their time cos I know that what they put out is actually a piece of them, its their design, their handiwork and their time…all very personal. If you looking for a unique treasures that are organically designed and are handcrafted quality – then handmade is the way to go.
What is your favourite toy: Currently my favourite toy is a beautiful handmade doll from Canada. I made friends with the little dollies maker on instagram and was so blessed to have won her in a giveaway. My dollies maker has a huge global following but her humility and openness is also what makes my dolly so special. Like me she was a stay at home mom and her journey inspires and encourages me. Every initiative had a start and because she didn’t give up, her dolls are sought world wide and pinned over and over and over. So much heart, love and personality is in that heirloom piece. How can she not be my favorite. Little Red named her Sunshine and she is a constant inspiration to me.
Where are you based: Jozi, Mnzansi 🙂
What quote do you live by: Soli Deo Gloria – its a Latin term that I had with me since my young days in corporate and it gives me purpose and perspective. And apparently I’m not the only one, renowned composer, Johann Sebastian Bach used it to sign off his work.
For me it answers that question so many people ask. Why am I here? It sees the bigger picture, that its not all about me, its about my God design and using this to help others and ultimately glorify God. I see myself and everyone else on this planet created beautifully and with intent, full of purpose and possibility.
Anything else you want to add: Yes, that Megan is an absolute inspiration to me. When I “met” Megan online, she was so incredibly sweet and bubbly and I didn’t know her story, but I liked her already 🙂 – When I sell a doll (or even when I don’t), I love to connect with the people who follow my journey. I want them to know that there is a person behind their doll, with lots of heart and soul. But be that as it may, my blessing came from meeting SO many beautiful people who have touched me and shared my journey with me -people who I otherwise would never have known. They are the fuel that keeps me going – I am so grateful. I could never have done it without their support. Megan has been this to me. Always commenting and encouraging me. As she shared her story with me, her courage and beauty shone through so brightly and she made such an impression on me. How can I ever put in words how my heart feels to know that Primrose is part of her journey and she is a beautiful part of my story. I am so honored.
Don’t these beautiful creations make you want to be a child again? Don’t you want to lie in bed & create a whole imaginary life for them before closing your eyes & cuddling them closer for a night of good dreams & happiness?
I know I do!