Your designs are bold + beautiful. Tell us the story behind them.
Thank you! My designs are inspired by my love of alternative culture, gothic artwork, spooky cartoons + tattoos. The very first design I illustrated began as a My Chemical Romance inspired tattoo that I was trying to design for myself. My designs begin as very rough sketches, followed by research + image references before they become digital illustrations. The illustrations that stick and become products are usually the ones that have a stronger concept, or meaning behind them that you wouldn’t necessarily know just by looking but it fits together into the wider collection or the ethos of Sugar Storm.
What was the initial inspiration to start your own business + sell them to others?
I was in my early 20s + I wasn’t loving the choice of clothes that I had + really didn’t feel like I had a style or that I could get excited about fashion. At the same time I had recently graduated from art school + was struggling to find my creative style, so the first t-shirts I made were an experiment in trying something totally new + expanding my skills. I initially got two t-shirts made just to see what they’d look like + ended up sharing them on Facebook asking if anyone would be interested in buying one + I sold about 15 to family and friends. After that I fell in love with the process of creating wearable artwork + seeing my products have a life of their own, seeing other people wearing them to express themselves + show off their own style. I had never set out to start a business, particularly a fashion business, but I always wanted to be able to make a living from my artwork + making things, so it’s a happy accident that I really enjoy the business side of it as well.
Explain your style to our readers.
I’m a grown-up emo kid + most of my style is an extension of that. I love gothic fashion, alternative subcultures + anything spooky. As I got older I didn’t always feel comfortable expressing this – particularly in my art work, but the more confident I’ve felt in my own style, the more it seeps into my work + attracts like minded people. There’s definitely an element of nostalgia in my style + taking the rebellious side of punk, emo, grunge etc + creating something that might be a bit more subtle, but still makes that statement.
Where can we purchase your products? Do you have a favourite + why?
All my products can be found in my online shop, at sugarstormstudio.com. My favourite product is the original Heartbreaker t-shirt, because it was the one that started it all – the product that existed before I even knew I wanted to run a business. It’s one of the boldest designs I’ve ever done + it usually gets some attention when I wear it, which is nice. I really love all the t-shirts because they can be styled in so many different ways + I love seeing people make them their own.
We have noticed you also encourage empowerment, self expression + individuality through your Workshops. Tell us, how did these begin?
I’d been running Sugar Storm pretty much as a fashion brand for about a year before I realised that something was missing. I wanted to expand the brand + reach more people but I didn’t necessarily want that to just mean making more products. I was already running creative workshops that were separate from Sugar Storm + when I decided to take a step back to really explore the mission of what I was doing – which was centred around empowerment, self expression + creativity – incorporating workshops felt like the natural next step. The workshops have taken many different forms + they’re still very much evolving so I’m excited to see how they can grow over the next few years.
Not only do you create alternative fashion, but you also provide Tarot readings. Tell us your Tarot story.
I’ve always been curious about metaphysical + spiritual practices, but I really started to actively explore it about three years ago. I bought myself a tarot deck + started reading and learning about it. At the time I didn’t really tell anyone, I had no interest in reading for other people, let alone reading professionally. It felt very sacred + I enjoyed it being something just for me. During the 2020 lockdown it became more of a learning project + I set myself the goal of being able to read for other people by the time we came out of lockdown. I practiced + read as much as I could on the traditional meanings + symbolism, + did a course on intuitive reading. Tarot is really important to me + it was a big decision to open this up to the public, but it felt right at the time + I’ll keep doing it while it feels like the right thing to do. I think it’s a wonderful tool to help people connect with themselves + feel empowered to explore their feelings + identity, which is very aligned with the Sugar Storm ethos.
How can our readers reach out + find out more about Tarot?
I offer two types of readings: a bite-size email tarot reading + a full video-chat reading, and all details of both are on my website. You can read more about how I got started with tarot, how I read, what to expect from a reading + even how you can read tarot for yourself at sugarstormstudio.com/tarot. I also try to share mini tarot readings on Tiktok as much as possible so you can find me there @sugarstormstudio too.
On days you are feeling uninspired, what are your top tips to shake the ‘funk’?
When it comes to creativity, I think it’s really difficult to force it, so when I can I like to take a step back when I notice things aren’t flowing + either get away from my desk + go for a walk, or move some tasks around so I can work on something that doesn’t require creativity or inspiration for a while. My uninspired days usually come as a sign that I’m not resting enough or getting overwhelmed with stress, so for me rest is usually the answer. I also try to start my morning off slowly + not immediately reach for my phone, + find that spending time outside, exercising + looking through old notes + sketches are some good ways to spark some creativity again.
In your blog, you discuss women in rock. Who are your biggest inspirations?
I’m really excited about the shifts we’re starting to see in alternative music to challenge the norms + push for more diversity + inclusion. Right now I’m particularly loving Meet Me @ The Altar, Milkie Way from Wargasm, Dana Dentata + Nova Twins. Hayley Williams from Paramore was also a big inspiration for me, as an early 2000s emo, because she was really the first woman I saw on stage in a very male dominated scene + that was really important for me growing up.
What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?
Don’t stress about having everything figured out, because nothing is going to go to plan anyway. Just enjoy the experience of learning, growing and trying new things.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs at the moment? … + are there any small businesses you would like to say ‘hello’ to?
Get comfortable with having unshakeable belief in yourself + your business. It’s so valuable to have people around you that believe in you + will hype you up when you’re having doubts – because doubts will always happen – but through all the day to day challenges + the conversations with people who don’t ‘get it’, it’s your own belief in what you’re doing that will keep you going. I think there’s a lot that you can blag + half-arse your way through in business but if you’re not all in + don’t truly believe in what you’re doing, it’s going to be really tough.
Follow Charlotte’s journey online now.