Charlotte Staerck is the retail director of leading luxury handbag restoration and preowned resale retailer, Handbag Clinic.
In just four years, Handbag Clinic retail stores have been rolled out across the UK as well as Europe and the Middle East, handling over £40 million worth of handbags. The business has become a leading light in the group, lovingly rejuvenating around 700 bags per month and turning over £1m last year.
We caught up with Charlotte for the latest in our ‘My London’ interview series.
For me, it’s got to be Chelsea. It’s chic and cosmopolitan yet still retains a village feel with its vibrant street café culture. It’s a mecca for style and I love to observe what people are wearing and how they are put together. I particularly love the lower end of Kings Road near to our store where you have smaller boutiques and independent and emerging designers where you can find on-of-a-kind pieces.
Favourite place for brunch:
One of my favourite local spots is The Ivy in Chelsea where I tend to go during the week. You can’t beat their vegetarian breakfast.
Otherwise, on a Sunday, I’m a huge fan of Circolo Popolare in Fitzrovia. it’s an incredible space opulently decorated with thousands of bottles – an Instagram dream. But, more importantly, the food is to die for – Sicilian dishes that leave you utterly stuffed. Their brunch menu has lots of English classics with an Italian twist – I can highly recommend the pizzas or Truffle pasta.
Best coffee in London:
Without a doubt, Beaufort House in Chelsea. I spend a lot of time in there, hosting meetings or catching up on work. It’s nailed that home from home atmosphere and I love settling in with my laptop with one of its delicious coffees.
Favourite gallery or museum:
I love the V&A Museum and try to go at least once a year. I recently went to their sold-out Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition and it took my breath away. I bought quite a few commemorative pieces for our stores, some coffee table books, as well as gifts for some of our staff.
Tell us a secret:
Anyone that knows me, knows I’m obsessed with handbags. But what people don’t know and may find somewhat strange – is that I’ve always had this set criteria and circular system when it comes to updating my collection. To give you an example, I had a purple Gucci velvet Marmont Shoulder Bag and, when I recently bought a purple Chanel lambskin Classic, the Gucci had to go and I sold it through our preowned resale operation. It’s as though I can’t justify having two handbags that are too similar. I think this is partly what inspired us to take Handbag Clinic into the resale market, which is now the fastest growing sector in fashion retail.
Favourite place to shop:
I actually love shopping at airport terminals – my favourite has to be Terminal 5 at Heathrow followed closely by Terminal 3, where they have Hermes. Both terminals have all my favourite handbag brand boutiques in one shoppable space. Buying something special when you’re going on holiday really helps start the trip off in an exciting way.
Favourite place to find inspiration:
I think for me New York will always have my heart – it’s my favourite city in the world. The place is just so vibrant and diverse has this crazy energy about it and you feel as though anything is possible when you’re there. I love the grit combined with the endless adventure and exploring – there’s so much to see and find. It’s dizzying but so inspiring. Every time I visit I come back buzzing with creative ideas.
Best London destination for a date:
I recently went to Folie in Soho with my husband Ben – it’s just off Golden Square. It’s a super opulent French restaurant and its interiors, designed by Studio KO who also did Chiltern Firehouse, channel French Riviera vibes with 60’s and 70’s feeling interiors – it oozes glamour and sensuality and its perfect for a date.
Battersea park – I used to live in Nine Elms and I’d cycle through it most mornings to get to work, which geared me up for the day ahead and cleared my head on the way back home. We still go as often as possible and I walk my dog, Luigi, there.
Favourite food market:
I love Borough Market in Southwark – it’s one of the oldest in London and it’s an absolute must. I always head straight to V Burger, where they make the most incredible vegan burgers but it has hundreds of gourmet food stalls with delicious cheeses and patisseries.
Your sanctuary in the city:
It may sound strange, but I’d say KOBOX in Chelsea is my sanctuary. It’s an intense a 50-minute workout session which combines boxing and rounds of strength training. I try and go at least 2 – 3 times per week.
What inspires you?
Lots of things inspire me – I love successful and determined women who’ve built something and created a legacy. Every successful woman has her own secrets and, as a female entrepreneur myself, I’m always looking to connect with and learn from incredible women who have cultivated their own amazing brand and business.
This season I’m loving:
The Dior Book Tote – which I’ll probably try and buy when I’m next at the airport just before Christmas. It’s not a long-term investment bag given it’s made from fabric so I’ll probably enjoy it for one year and then sell it before it starts to really lose its value.