Meet Chloe Hardisty, founder of Cotton Clara
To celebrate the launch of our three beginner-friendly embroidery kits in collaboration with Cotton Clara, we thought we’d ask founder Chloe Hardisty a few questions about her business, as well as her day-to-day life and creative inspirations.
How did your business, Cotton Clara, get started?
I started with the seed of an idea in 2014 to just start a creative business. I’d just had my second son and I really didn’t want to go back to a job that required quite a bit of travel and being away from the kids. Plus I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and hated being an employee, and it seemed maternity leave and a bit of space to think was what gave me the push to finally do it. I also just saw other people building creative businesses online and I thought ‘I can do that!’. I had been looking for more stylish, design-led embroidery kits and couldn’t find any online, so I created my own. Since then I’ve just honed this idea and tried to build the business and make our product better and better.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I have an early morning habit since I read The 5am Club by Robin Sharma a few years back. Having kids it’s hard to fit everything in, so getting up early helps. My alarm goes at about 5.15am and I go to a CrossFit class from 6 to 7am. I get back and usually have my favourite eggs on toast – my husband always makes really good filter coffee – then I get the kids up to start getting ready for school. Then there is an hour of chaos as I try to do that, and either me or my husband will take the boys to school.
Our office is about two minutes’ walk from their school so then we’ll usually head straight in. My husband works for us three and a half days a week so sometimes we go in together. Then I’m in the studio, taking photos, managing product development, way too much time on marketing and social media stuff, talking to wholesale customers and generally just managing the business, mostly the creative and marketing side. My husband looks after the finance elements and we have an amazing studio manager who looks after the operational side. Sometimes I’m on school pick up but if not I’ll work til about 6pm. We have tea, get the boys bathed and in bed and are normally in bed about the same time as them, at about 9pm!
Where do you get inspiration for your own designs, and who are your creative influences?
I’m always inspired by vintage crafting, whether it’s packaging or a book on 1970s embroidery patterns. I love simple, colourful design, folk art and design with Scandinavian influences. I think I’m always drawn to a positive slogan too, and I’m obsessed with typography design and bold lettering. I love Rachel Castle, an Australian artist – her colours are just the dream.
What’s your favourite kit to date, and who would you most like to collaborate with?
We collaborate with a new designer every month as part of our embroidery subscription box Hoop Club and I think the latest month’s designer is always my favourite! But our collaborations with Jane Foster and Miffy have been really fun. I’d love to work with Orla Kiely. Her designs would look amazing as cross stitch or embroidery patterns.
We love that you run regular online tutorials! Can you tell us a bit about these and how they work?
I’m really passionate about spreading the word about embroidery. It’s such a relaxing and positive thing to do for your mental health. We’re moving to a monthly online tutorial for our Hoop Club members, whereas the weekly tutorials are designed for people who are just starting out with embroidery and want to trial the free kit that we offer on the site.
We’ll be hosting a stitch along with Chloe on Instagram Live on Friday 22nd April at 1pm (that’s London local time). The session is totally free, and will be a great opportunity to explore the kits, learn some simple embroidery techniques, and to ask Chloe questions. You don’t need to buy a kit, but if you’d like to stitch along with us, you can order in advance here.