06 Mar Handcrafted Home Decor with Charlie Sprout
Eclectic and handcrafted, the Charlie Sprout home decor collections caught our eye at NY NOW with its vibrant color combinations and globally-inspired patterns! Even better, this brand empowers disadvantaged women by employing them as artisans to create each product. We spoke with designer, Rebecca Bravin, to discover more about her journey and the dream behind the Charlie Sprout brand.
You had been designing home fashion collections for large companies for 10 years before you branched out on your own. What made you decide to follow your own dream?
I always loved what I did for a career and considered myself very lucky that my work inspired and fulfilled me creatively. But there was always a nagging feeling that would pop up every few months, or so, that made me ask myself what I was doing to truly help others. I think it was that question and me feeling like I could do more in a larger capacity that made me push myself out of a life that felt comfortable. It made me take the leap of faith that started me on this journey of where I am today – creating a luxury brand with the mission of helping people.
Your pieces are created from scratch and influenced by different cultures around the world. What inspired you to handcraft each product? What global experiences are represented in your collections?
It all started very naturally. I began making the pillows myself out of my apartment. It wasn’t to start a company, but instead, an outlet for me to feel more creative and hands-on with product. I wanted to put a little piece of my vision and artistry into the world instead of just designing the aesthetic of whatever brand I was working on at the time. The concept of the overall look and feel of Charlie Sprout, as well as my logo, popped into my head while on a flight back to NYC. I started sketching some ideas on scraps of paper on the plane, and started making the textiles I dreamed up only a few days later. That practice still holds true…when creating the line, I make the first prototype of each style for every season.
As for the global aspect of Charlie Sprout, I have always been inspired by textiles from around the world, especially Africa. There’s something about the colors and patterns that I’ve always been drawn to. In April of 2017, I volunteered to work with children in Swaziland Africa – that experience changed my life. Understanding a completely different culture, connecting with the people and seeing what real obstacles they face changed they way I saw the world and the type of person I wanted to be in it. Wanting to help women in Swaziland to create sustainable income was the push I needed to finally make this all happen, and I began working on Charlie Sprout full time.
How do you make decisions on the color palette of your collections? What story does color tell in your products?
Color is a huge part of the collection, but rather than using exact colors or motifs directly from my travels, I try to interpret the mood and palette to feel fresh and modern. It’s common practice in our industry to know what colors are trending, to make sure things feel salable…and to do that, we shop the market, get inspired by apparel trends, see what’s working for other brands. I’ve decided to throw that practice to the wind – choosing a color story isn’t a study or a science, so I truly go with what I’m feeling for each season. It’s part of my creative process – to lead with my heart, trust myself, and not be afraid to make bold decisions, on color…or anything else for that matter.
Charlie Sprout’s artisans are disadvantaged women in Los Angeles, California and Swaziland, Africa. How do they inspire you?
I feel strongly about women being empowered. The issues we face as women in America are real, and it’s important to not forget about people in our own country who are struggling to make ends meet. But in a lot of ways, our problems are so small in comparison to what women face in other parts of the world. I feel compelled to make a difference in that respect. Helping a woman to have a job doesn’t just provide money, it gives her a sense of self respect, independence, self-worth, the ability to be her own person, and helps her to take care of her loved ones; even on her own, if need be. That doesn’t just help women – that helps shape and shift the world into being something greater. And it’s important to me to be a part of that evolution.
There are lots of big ideas for Charlie Sprout moving forward, but it’s also important for me to try not to get too ahead of myself…which is difficult because I’m so excited and inspired! Charlie Sprout is still very small and will definitely need help to fill the large goals I’ve set for myself and the company. But as far as product is concerned, next steps will be to add on to our soft goods line, for sure…which I’m already starting to work on. As the brand expands into new product categories, there will always be a common thread that holds the collection together, which is to create luxury Home fashion while helping others in the process. The goal is to find struggling artisan groups from around the world that have beautiful stories to tell through their craft, and combine them with my design sense. This partnership will then become a source of sustainable income. I see so much potential to create beautiful and innovative product using skills and techniques that are seeped in tradition and handed down through generations. That’s the most exciting part – figuring out what I can create with these women, and how to push the envelope…to be new and innovative while still maintaining and respecting their heritage.