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Empowering Elegance: Catherine Clark's Journey with Love, Ceil - From Fashion to Purpose

Empowering Elegance: Catherine Clark's Journey with Love, Ceil - From Fashion to Purpose

At the heart of our conversation with Catherine lies the genesis of Love, Ceil - a brand born from the desire to solve a problem close to home...

August 21st, 2023

In the realm of fashion, innovation often stems from the interplay between personal experiences and a fervent desire to make a meaningful impact. Our journey into the creative universe of Catherine Clark, the visionary mind behind Love, Ceil, takes us on an exhilarating exploration of how heartfelt inspiration can weave itself into remarkable ventures.

Join us as we delve into an interview that unveils the story of a brand deeply rooted in family history and values, and discover how Catherine's unwavering commitment to authenticity, style, and mental health advocacy is leaving an indelible mark on the fashion landscape. From the defining moment that ignited Love, Ceil's inception to the heartfelt narratives of each accessory design, Catherine's tale resonates as a testament to the transformative power of fashion fueled by emotion and purpose. With her brand's journey mirroring her mother's legacy and radiating empowerment,

Catherine's story is an ode to the strength that comes from embracing life's challenges and transforming them into a catalyst for change. Embark on this riveting encounter as we uncover the facets of Love, Ceil that transcend mere accessories, and immerse ourselves in Catherine's inspiring vision for the future.

This is an interview that reflects the harmonious fusion of fashion and meaningful connection, ready to inspire hearts and minds on every step of the journey...

How did the idea for Love, Ceil come about, and what was the defining moment that led you to start this venture?

Like many new ideas, Love, Ceil was born out of the need to solve a problem. My daughter, a University Athlete, possesses strong legs and a tiny waist, making it nearly impossible to find fitting trousers. One day, while trying on clothes in Atlanta and growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of options, she questioned why cute belts weren't readily available. That was the moment when everything clicked into place.

Could you share a memorable story about your mother, Ceil, and how her style and influence continue to shape Love, Ceil's designs?

I fondly recall a time when I purchased a black and white zebra print skirt (a nod to the late 80s fashion) and my mother advised me, "Try to choose something other than black, white, or red to pair with that. Think of a color that's equally stunning yet unexpected, like purple." Each time I design a new piece, her words echo in my mind: "Opt for something unexpected..."

Love, Ceil is described as "fun and incredibly individual." How do you ensure that your accessories cater to a diverse range of personalities and styles?

While crafting a new design, I make a conscientious effort to consider the wearers. I aim to create pieces that resonate with multiple generations. An excellent example is "Sugar Magnolia," a design that seamlessly complements evening gowns, casual day dresses, and even denim.

Your passion for teen and young adult mental health is evident in Love, Ceil's mission. Could you tell us more about how your brand supports organizations like the JED Foundation?

The year Love, Ceil came into existence marked a challenging time for my family. My sister's son tragically lost his life to suicide, my own son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and my mother's battle with depression was progressively consuming her. With antiquated views on mental health and addiction, my parents were ill-prepared to cope with our new reality. With two other children whose emotional well-being was at stake, we made a concerted effort to break the cycle. We openly discuss "scary thoughts," depression, anxiety, and their connections to substance abuse. We often ponder if possessing the knowledge we do now might have led us to seek help more promptly. Establishing Love, Ceil and dedicating resources to the emotional health of teens and young adults serves as our endeavor to regain control over our lives and to prevent others from succumbing to the hopelessness that depression and anxiety can foster.

In what ways has travel, literature, and vintage jewelry inspired your designs, and how do you incorporate these elements into Love, Ceil accessories?

For instance, "Abbey Road," one of my favorites, originated from an unexpected source: a Parisian flea market where I chanced upon a framed box of preserved green beetles. Their captivating iridescence prompted me to include them in one of my belt designs. Another piece, "Mint to Be," draws inspiration from a vintage ring I stumbled upon in Rome. Regular visits to vintage stores, perusing brooches and buttons, continually influence my work. Additionally, a recent visit to the Ferrari Museum introduced me to a captivating milky blue hue that you can anticipate seeing in an upcoming design.

Love, Ceil encourages people to "stand up straight and put your shoulders back." How does this philosophy translate into your brand's identity and message to your customers?

Growing up as one of four daughters in a household without sons, my mother was immensely proud of us. She instilled the importance of self-assuredness and self-care, evident in her insistence on wearing real clothes, lipstick, and mascara whenever we left the house. She firmly believed that how we carried ourselves had a significant impact. If any of us slouched while standing in her presence, she'd grasp our shoulders and gently pull them back, reminding us that our posture conveyed a message. Our belts serve as a subtle reminder to stand tall and proud, much like my mother advocated.

As the co-founder and creative director, how do you strike a balance between maintaining the brand's core values while embracing new trends and ideas in the fashion industry?

Striving to avoid an excessive lean towards "precious" or "trendy," I keep an eye on emerging trends within the industry. For instance, the shift towards more personalized and less rigid work attire aligns with Love, Ceil's philosophy. Pairing our "Pegasus" design with a suit for the office would undoubtedly be perceived as confident and bold rather than outlandish.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of running Love, Ceil so far, and how do you envision the brand's future?

The most rewarding aspect has undoubtedly been the incredible response we've received. Launching one's own business can be nerve-wracking, and opening your creations to judgment leaves you vulnerable. The enthusiastic feedback from various corners of the US, Canada, and the UK has been truly exhilarating. Our next step involves expanding into custom bridesmaids' accessories, allowing for a seamless transition from wedding ensembles to more casual outfits by simply changing the belt strap.

Love, Ceil is all about creating accessories that complement one's mood and outfit. Could you share a personal favorite from your collection and the story behind it?

Among my cherished designs is "Pegasus," one of my earliest creations. Curiously enough, the inspiration came while I was setting the table for a holiday meal, contemplating the image of a flying dragon from my dinner china on a belt. When I wear "Pegasus," I feel a surge of confidence. The compliments it garners are heartening, and knowing that it emerged from my own dining room adds a special touch.

How do you approach sustainability and ethical practices in your brand's manufacturing and sourcing processes?

We forge partnerships with manufacturers who can substantiate ethical practices. Additionally, in South Carolina, we collaborate with the South Carolina Work Experience Program, providing employment opportunities for young adults aged 17-24 who are currently on assistance. Our emphasis on creating a supportive environment that values employee input contributes to a mutually beneficial collaboration.

Love, Ceil offers a wide range of accessories. Do you have a particular collection or piece that holds special significance to you and why?

The inaugural piece in the collection, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," carries profound meaning. Shortly after our launch, a dear friend lost her son, William Nolan. In a touching tribute, her friends send her images of hearts discovered in unexpected places, which she shares on Instagram. A portion of the sales from this design is directed to "Shatterproof" in honor of her son. Mailing that check to them instills a sense of connection and purpose.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to enter the fashion industry and create their own unique brand?

In a podcast, I encountered a piece of advice that struck a chord, although I can't recall its source. The essence was, "Reach out to others about your brand more times than you're comfortable with. What feels significant to you might not register as such on their radar. If your message isn't at the top of their inbox, it might not receive a response. Even if your persistence becomes slightly bothersome, it's better to receive a clear answer."

Love, Ceil's journey seems to be deeply rooted in family history and values. How do you maintain a sense of family and connection within the brand as it grows?

During our early days of shipping products, an instance arose where a staff member deemed something as "good enough." I used the opportunity to convey the message that every detail mattered. I reminded them that my mother's signature adorned each box and that "good enough" wasn't the standard we aimed for. Seeing her signature serves as a constant reminder of the significance of every facet. My daughter and I initiated this brand together, and by remaining aligned with our initial design philosophy, our consumers, and our message, our staff naturally embraces the same mindset.

Our readers love to travel. What destination is at the top of your bucket list?

Russia used to be at the pinnacle of my travel wishlist until recently. Instead, I ventured to India, an experience that unexpectedly inspired me. I'm about to revisit India to delve deeper into its allure. As for the next destination, I'm leaning towards Vietnam.

Lastly, if you had to describe Love, Ceil's impact on the world in just a few words, what would they be, and how do you hope to inspire others through your brand's story and mission?

If Love, Ceil were to leave a mark on the world, it would be due to my mother's legacy of style, messages, and vision that she imparted to us. She would wish for everyone to discover a sense of self, pride, and a hidden treasure that brings joy.

Where can people find out more?

To learn more about Love, Ceil, visit our website at www.loveceil.com or reach out to us via email at hello@loveceil.com.

Laura Bartlett

Laura Bartlett

Northern girl Laura is the epitome of a true entrepreneur. Laura’s spirit for adventure and passion for people blaze through House of Coco. She founded House of Coco in 2014 and has grown it in to an internationally recognised brand whilst having a lot of fun along the way. Travel is in her DNA and she is a true visionary and a global citizen.