Since day one we’ve always tried to follow our gut and do things a little differently from everyone else. We recently met Charlotte Jacklin and Charlotte Melling, Editor & Creative Director of Betty Magazine and we realised we’d stumbled upon two women who share the same attitude in everything they do. Something sparked and we immediately knew we wanted to work with them.
Betty began as a small project when Charlotte J was at university and since then it has blossomed into a beautifully curated independent magazine. With a focus on celebrating the individual, Betty is the perfect hybrid of fresh and nostalgic, exploring everything from fashion, food, travel and great women through Charlotte and Charlotte’s kaleidoscope-tinted glasses. We met them on Columbia Road for our photo shoot, one of their favourite places to go and get inspired in London – it’s easy to see why: the street is lined with quirky independent shops with beautiful trinkets you never even knew you needed until you saw them and dreamy coffee shops to hide away in and get things done.
Here Charlotte and Charlotte discuss the importance of printed media, striving to be inspirational rather than aspirational, why Instagram is both great and terrible and why they champion style over fashion any day.
Charlotte J: Betty was started as a twenty page zine a long time ago at university. The journey to where we are today has been surreal, in the best way possible. We want to inspire people and make them happy, there’s so many depressing things out there that make people feel insecure and blue. That’s not what we want to do, we want to be a bit of sunshine in people’s lives.
Charlotte M: Around the time we started Betty there weren’t really any women’s magazines that were doing anything different. We wanted to create the kind of magazine that we wanted to read. Along the way we have met and worked with some really talented people and one of the best things about Betty is that everyone is not just talented but really lovely with it. The spirit of Betty is to be inspirational not aspirational and we aim to be a friendly magazine and blog. We want to encourage people to express who they are and not to conform to the mainstream.
ON PRINTED MEDIA
Charlotte J: I began to buy fewer and fewer magazines, maybe because I knew all the secrets behind them. But they didn’t feel very genuine and I didn’t connect with them. Thankfully indie magazines went from strength to strength and until mainstream magazines fundamentally change this is only going to continue. Which I think is a wonderful thing!
Charlotte M: I think over the last five years, independent magazines have gone from strength to strength. People are buying more vinyl than downloads and looking to shop from independent businesses rather than big supermarkets. People appreciate having something that has been lovingly created and I think there is something satisfying about collecting all the back issues and displaying them. Modern magazines are more like coffee table books.
ON WORK/LIFE BALANCE
Charlotte J: It’s taken me YEARS. And I am still learning but you have got to be strict with your time, if you can’t get it done in the time you’ve allocated try again tomorrow. Killing yourself and staying up til 3am (which I used to do all the time) just isn’t sustainable. Leave your phone in the other room, for both life and work, it means you can get so much more work done and then be present when it’s time for living life.
Charlotte M: I’d love to say I’m a real go-getter and career hungry but once I had my kids, my priorities changed. I’ve been lucky enough to fit Betty around family life and that has been brilliant. The other thing that being a mum has taught me is kids are not little forever and as they are getting bigger I am able to focus on my career and new challenges more and more.
ON STAYING CREATIVE
Charlotte J: Oh I really go through peaks and troughs with this. However, if I am really stuck in a rut or feeling uninspired, I remind myself to: LEAVE THE HOUSE. Go for a walk, drive to somewhere new, or plan a day out. Normally after this I am buzzing with ideas, I need to be feasting on new things all the time. It’s definitely a muscle that needs exercising, travel is the number one source of inspiration for me.
Charlotte M: Travel is an important part of inspiration. Also time away from the boring day to day can spark all kinds of new ideas.
ON NOT COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET
Charlotte J: This came with age for me. I used to panic all the time that ‘I’m not doing this and not doing that’, and ‘so and so is doing that better than me’. You’ve got to remember that everyone is fighting their own battle and life online is not the real day to day. SWITCH OFF YOUR PHONE AND YOU’LL IMMEDIATELY FEEL BETTER!
Charlotte M: I think the best thing is to look but not too deeply. I recently found that someone had totally copied from Betty and I was initially cross. After half an hour I’d managed to turn that negative into a positive. Those things aren’t a threat; lets face it you are already one step ahead – why else would anyone want to copy? It’s good to stay on your toes.
ON FINDING THE PRETTIEST PLACES IN LONDON TO GO BEFORE ANYONE ELSE
Charlotte J: People tell me I have a knack for this, and I don’t know how I do, or if I do. But I am always looking for something new and exciting, to stay inspired. As much as I say switch that phone off, I do spend a lot of time online looking for new places to visit, and people are kind enough to send me things and say ‘you gotta go here, or I saw this and thought of you’ – it’s good to share with people things you’ll know they’ll like and make them happy. I always try and repay the favour.
Charlotte M: Charlotte J loves anywhere that has “insta-potential” and has a great nose for the newest places. I guess as a stylist I get invited to quite a few things and whilst I’m out prepping for shoots I tend to walk rather than get public transport. You also see a lot more of London if you travel by bus.
ON THE WEIRD & WONDERFUL WORLD OF INSTAGRAM
Charlotte J: Oh Instagram, it’s making me a bit sad at the moment in terms of how curated everything has to be. I was talking to a friend about this yesterday, the original idea was to see behind the scenes of things, whereas now things have to fit into a certain aesthetic to gain traction and break that dreaded algorithm. However, saying that, I know so many wonderful people that I have met through the app, that I can’t be too down about it for long. You can find your little corner of the internet, and connect with people from around the world and THAT is a wonderful thing!
Charlotte M: I’m in two minds as I have a ten year old daughter who has friends who are on Instagram and I have to say I’m worried about the effects on young people. It so easy to find yourself in a rabbit hole of other people’s social media feeds and before you know it you’re feeling very inadequate. On the other hand, I’m very nosy and can’t help wondering what people are up to.
ON WORKING WITH CHARLOTTE
Charlotte J: Charlotte? What can I say. Working with Charlotte is so much fun, we often think similar things, which is spooky and have lots in common and we really make each other laugh. We are also a perfect match in our talents and skills, hers compliment mine and vice versa. She’s definitely the big sister I never had, and always there if I need some help or advice. Everyone needs a Charlotte.
Charlotte M: I absolutely love working with Charlotte, we both share the same sense of humour and taste in so many things. We are similar in what we like but we are not afraid to disagree. We have been working together for nearly 6 years and over that time we have become more like sisters. I’m 10 years older that Charlotte so I sometimes feel like her big sister. I can’t imagine working without her.
ON BEING A MUM TO BE
Charlotte J: That was the biggest surprise of 2016, becoming a mum wasn’t on any of my to do lists! And I love a list. I’m nearly six months pregnant and couldn’t be happier about it. As John Lennon said, life is what happens whilst you’re busy making other plans, and it couldn’t be any truer. Whilst I know it’s the biggest challenge I am going to face in life, the support from mums I know has already been amazing. They’ve all let me into a secret and told me it’s the best thing I’ll ever do and I can’t wait for this new chapter. Plus shopping for mini versions of everything is so much more fun.
ON BEING A MUM:
Charlotte M: I love being a mum more than anything. It’s definitely something I’ve grown into. It takes a big period of adjustment to not be the most important person anymore. It’s a job that has very long hours and no pay rises but there are so many amazing moments in your day. It’s exciting to see your kids evolve into fun creative people that you enjoy spending time with. Oh and of course Christmases are magical.
ON MY PERSONAL STYLE
Charlotte J: I’m more careful than I used to be when it comes to purchases, I can shop for England but so many things used to get worn once. Now I have less (probably still more than most) and try and think, is this me?! Not just, do I like it? My style is inspired by late 60s, 70s pieces, if something is popular I try and stay away from it as that’s a sure fired way to get tired of something really quickly. I am a creature of habit though and if I really like something I will buy two of them, or buy two in different colours. This formula has never let me down yet. Right before I got pregnant I really got into suits, tailoring is so flattering. I’d love to own a collection of different suits one day; I have dresses covered. I’ve got three velvet suits, next up is the perfect black one and then a paisley or Houndstooth one, please.
Charlotte M: I became interested in fashion when I was 13 and this when I started buying vintage clothes. I have always hated wearing the same as everyone else and back then you could buy amazing vintage clothes for a few quid. Over the years some of my favourite shopping days have been trawling Camden or Portobello with my friends, it’s the thrill of finding that special piece that you couldn’t have hoped for. I have to say I don’t do it so much anymore as there is so much choice on the high street and online but still like to mix vintage few high end pieces in there.
ON STYLE VS FASHION
Charlotte J: I think Coco Chanel nailed this one ‘Fashion Fades but Style is Eternal’, there’s not much more to say. Just do you; have confidence in your choices, and don’t go along with what everyone else is wearing. There are so many trends I love but they’re just not going to work for me. I love high necks, SLEEVES and midi length things. I read once that French women can’t understand why English women own so many cardigans, just put sleeves on things to begin with. I have to agree, there’s a time and a place for a cardigan (a cosy Sunday), not over that beautiful dress that you bought.
Charlotte M: Style is knowing what suits you rather than following a trend to the letter. People with style know how to make a trend their own.
ON THE POPPY BAG
Charlotte J: People say I am impractical, I disagree. I’m just aesthetic driven. Whilst the Poppy has a strap, I’ll rarely use it – as it looks like a classic vintage bag when held by the top handle. It’s something you can see either Jane Birkin or Grace Kelly wearing. Most importantly it’s big enough to fit all your bits in. And I do not travel light, so trust me on this one!
ON STAR PRINT
Charlotte M: I’ve always loved star print. It always feels very high fashion as the big fashion designers keep going back to it every few years. It’s a classic – a bit like a breton stripe. It’s interesting to see it on leather and I think it makes for a very day to night collection. I think the star print bags look great with evening wear but equally stylish with jeans and a t-shirt.