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Interview with:

Charlotta Ward [charlottaward] 

What is your specialty as a stylist? fashion, salon, image, objects...?
I style rooms - mainly for children, however sometimes also for adults. My Clients request my views on how to decorate a room, or how to re-style a room using existing objects. I also do art for children, which includes murals as well as canvas art. They are a fantastic way to update a room that feels a little dated.
Can you provide a link to a site where we can see something of your work or of where you work.
My work blog: http://charlottaward.blogspot.com/ My inspirations blog: http://spaceforinspiration.blogspot.com/
In what style or trend do you classify yourself?
My style is varied and pending the project outline. I find I am versatile and capable to take on a wide variety of briefs. In my personal style though I am 'classic with a modern edge' and I like mixing vintage with new, rough with sleek and feminine with stricter more masculine looks. I think it is this contrast that creates the most appealing impact. I am also very much for enhancing the personality of a Client - their heritage, interests and the setting & the location are big sources of inspiration.
What are your clients like?
They are design and interior savvy urban dwellers in all parts of the world. I have taken project briefs from children and adults alike, and thrive on their diversity. Not all projects are glamorous or high end, and I welcome Clients of all walks of life. The common factor for all though is that they care about their homes - cottage or chateau.
How did you begin to develop your talent? Have you possesed it since you were a child?
Yes I have always loved styling.. From the age of three when I restyled my sister's 'Lundby dollshouse' whilst she was at school until this day.. I can't say my sister appreciated my work back then, but my Clients today certainly do!
What importance has professional training had on your career?
I think all and any education will add to your career and life in general. I hold two university degrees - one in interior design and one in business marketing. I graduated with top grades and honours. These gave my base and core platform. Professional training after that has been to refine my skills and to continue to develop in line with the market place. New ways of thinking and doing things, as well as materials and props are always important.
When did you first realize you could make a living this way?
It wasn't until I had my first child (7 years ago) that I dared jump off a lucrative career in marketing and start planning my own ventures. My business grew from a distant dream to reality in small steps. I didn't have a formal structure, it grew organically and by itself which was lovely.
What people or experiences have taught you the most and helped you to arrive where you are?
Every person that I have met & interacted with has had impact on my life has made me the person I am today. Consciously or otherwise. Having lived in several countries around the world has certainly exposed me to a lot of interesting, inspiring and fantastic individuals. Learning to adapt to a new culture and speaking different languages have helped me see the world with different eyes. I also believe that the experiences and people that have taught me what I don't like or want are the most valuable (in this context). You certainly learn a lot from your own and other people's mistakes. Having children has also opened my eyes. Suddenly I see the world differently. Life as a mother and generally observing and listening to my two kids help me grow every day! Last but not least, I have had the fortune to grow up in a family that encouraged, accepted and appreciated my creative ways and views. I have never been held back. I have been and continue to be a keen student of the fantastic world we live in!
What is your concept of beauty? Why does it change so much from one culture to another, or from one era to another?
I think beauty is definitely 'in the eyes of the beholder'. Though culture plays part, I find that like minded people are inspired by similar things whether they live in China or Sweden. In terms of historic eras - I believe the core values have been the same but the expression may have changed. Also technology, education and general awareness play a huge impact. E.g. it is no longer beautiful to wear a coat made from the skins of a rare or threatened animal. Beauty today goes hand in hand with ethical moral and responsibility. There may be written or unwritten rules of what beauty should be, but personally I find beauty in things that are genuinely honest, true and real. There is nothing beautiful in fake perfection, pretentiousness or overly staged styling. Sometimes less is more.
Do you need to love what you do, or does professionalism suffice?
I think to be truly good at what you do there has to be an affinity. You have to become one with the craft so to speak. I think this is best seen in people who play an instrument - there are those with technical skills and there are those who have intuitive knowledge and passion. Without the heart there is no passion, without the passion there is no soul..
What do you do when a client requests something that you believe is not suitable for him/her?
I tell him/her, however at the end of the day I trust my clients to know what is best for them. It is not my place to judge or to discredit their views on style or aesthetics (see my answer about 'how judge beauty'). At the end of the day my job is to facilitate their dreams in the best possible way. They pay me for my thoughts and I give them my honest opinion. If I find that our views are not in harmony or that I am not the best person to deliver their expectations, then I say so and we respectfully part ways. I would never set my name to something that was indecent or in violation with my core values of life and people. Respect is key.
Besides advising clients, do you also educate them?
Of course. However I find that I also learn a lot from them. It is a two way street and I love the interaction. I learn something new every day and am truly grateful for this.
Isn't there a cult of vanity in premeditated publicity and fashion poses?
Vanity is present in every person and life, whether we are aware of it or not.
Your definition of "glamour"?
A dash of fabulous in what ever way that comes in or means to you.
Please name three well-known personalities whose look you admire, and three who need to urgently change their image.
Aaah this is hard because I think of some personalities and immediately feel admiration for their stylist and personal advisers. How fabulously cynical, right!? :) I think Jennifer Aniston, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Drew Barrymore have an effortless and natural style & beauty. They feel 'real' and in tune with their inner core. I admire the transformation of Nichole Richie, and the classic iconic style of some ladies from the past - Gabrielle Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman.. That said, style doesn't have to come from the way you look and I am a great admirer of all people who carry themselves with dignity and worthiness, and ALL children in the world. They are the ones to look to for direction! Without mentioning names, I think everyone/anyone fake needs to urgently rethink their image.
Being surrounded by a different style can cause a person to feel different. Can such a feeling transform a person?
Of course, but this is only a healthy transformation if it allows you to still maintain your core. Differences in style should not look to change you. They should enhance you or add to your personality. That said, there are times when we want to be or feel different.. Eg. when dressed up and going to a formal dinner vs pulling on our favourite clothes and hanging out with a best friend. All of this is part of the flavours of life and what makes living so wonderful!
What trends do you see gaining momentum?
Individuality is one. The time of pushing the mass in one direction is gone and now it is all about being true to oneself. I love how people can proudly display their personal collections, handiwork and art without being torn to shreds. Being who you are is gaining a lot of momentum. Eco friendly and ethical solutions are also continuing to grow, and rightly so. People have grown a conscience and demand that the commercial world delivers. Finally! In context of this there is also a big trend to 'return to basics' and 'nature'. Being Swedish I love and appreciate this - my love for nature and simple things is deep! A lovely side effect of the eco-friendly approach also gives room for antiques and heirlooms to become popular again. Even with younger segments of the market. Recycling, handing down, second hand, vintage, antiques - they all go together. Mixing older pieces with new ones is a great way to be eco-focused whilst adding a personal & quirky touch to any given space. I think this mix-matching of styles will continue to grow and I for one am a huge fan of this way of styling & decorating. As far as predictions.. I see maps returning in decor, tartan is on its way back, as is over-sized photography, hand-made objects, rattan, industrial-chic, distressed and worn hardware reused in new ways.. There are lots of fun trends to expect..
Make a prediction: how long will the fashion of piercing and tattoos last?
Forever. Body adornment (piercing, painting, scarring etc) stems from tribal cultures and is as ancient as.. I feel the social acceptance to enhance your personality in ways you find beautiful is great and I think this trend is here to stay.
What magazines or websites do you follow to keep up to date? What other types of cultural inputs serve as sources of inspiration for you?
I read an huge quantity of interior and lifestyle magazines and blogs from all over the world. I can read in several languages so have the advantage of being able to choose from a wide range of titles. I also follow world news online and on the radio. I like these two channels best as they are immediate and up-to-date - they can broadcast news as they happen. Much better than printed media. I absorb inspiration from people mainly - be that face to face meetings, blog liaisons, events and/or interviews. Again, I am fortunate to be able to travel quite a bit and so I am constantly exposed to inspiring people and places. Children also inspire me a lot! I think they are amazing and really thrive on how they see the world and what they have to say.
I would like to be more discerning when I buy clothes or furniture. What do you recommend I do to acquire this ability?
First of all listen to what drives you - what are your motivations to become more discerning? Then look to people who you think have this ability and listen to what they have to say.

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Charlotta Ward
Sydney, Australia

[charlottaward] Charlotta Ward
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