This world of ours is *stressful*, there’s no getting around it. But with people like Charlotte Reed spreading the power of positivity through the illustrative brilliance of her inspiring brand May the Thoughts be With You; things are getting a whole lot brighter. In fact, we loved Charlotte’s message so much that we made an entire range of licensed products and publications based on her work.
So, pull up a cosy chair, make yourself a warm cup of tea and get ready for a slice of happiness as we talk all things May the Thoughts be With You with Charlotte Reed.
First things first… tea or coffee?
Decaf tea! I don’t usually drink anything caffeinated as it sends me a bit bonkers with too much energy! However, if I need to boost my mood then I will sometimes have a normal tea. It actually helps!
Cats or dogs?
Ooh, can I choose both?! I love all animals, but I guess if forced to pick it would be dogs as they give you so much love. I look after a friend’s sausage dog called Bertie three days a week and our bond is like nothing else!
Pizza or ice cream?
I’m allergic to gluten, but if I find gluten-free pizza I devour it!
Great! Now we’ve gotten to know you a bit more, what inspired you to start drawing?
Art and English were my favourite subjects at school as I loved being creative. However, when I left school, I rarely did anything creative anymore. When I suffered with depression in my thirties, I had the idea to pick up my creative pursuits again in the hopes it would help me recover. And it did! I then realised how important expressing myself creatively is integral to my mental well-being.
Your unique cast of characters are very imaginative, how did you come up with them, and who’s your personal favourite?
It’s funny as a lot of people ask where my characters come from and I don’t really know! I sort of feel they come from a mystical, other worldly place and although it was me who drew them, I think they came ‘through’ me as opposed to being ‘from’ me. My favourite characters are The Shoeless Guru or The Happy Hippy as they seem to have such simple and kind wisdom to share.
When you decided to self-publish your first book, did you have any idea at all that it might turn out to be such a success?
Well, I didn’t know, but I just had this overwhelming feeling that I had to do it, I really felt this strong sense of purpose and that I had to explore that path. And now I’m so glad I did!
We’ve heard that your Portobello Market stall has had its fair share of celebrity visitors, could you tell us a few of the famous faces who’ve paid you a visit?
Well my first celebrity visitor was Natalie Imbruglia. Her friend who’d bought my book brought her to my stall to have a look. I was completely starstruck and nervous! Later that day Natalie emailed to say she loved the book, and could I pop over to her house after the market (she lived nearby) as she wanted to buy six more. She gave one to Kylie and one to David Walliams! I also had a visit from the King of Malaysia and his many bodyguards which was quite surreal. And George Osbourne who lives locally has been a few times to buy my book to give as gifts. Oh yes, and Rev Run from RUN DMC came with his MTV film crew to buy a book. I was so nervous that when he asked me to sign and date his book, I put the wrong year! So, he came back again and asked me to correct it and we had a chuckle.
How did you feel when you were offered your first publishing deal?
At first, I was so excited! But then I went into fear that I shouldn’t sign it and keep on with self-publishing instead. However, then I had a chat with all my fellow market trader friends at Portobello market and they said I’d be nuts to turn it down as it was such an incredible opportunity for my book to reach even more people. I then signed the deal and I’m so glad I did, as it went global and has become a bestseller!
And what’s it like now to see all of your illustrations leaping off the page and on to other products?
It’s so wonderful as it’s brought my characters so much more to life. I absolutely love selling all the merchandise on my stall as I get to see customer’s reactions first-hand! It’s also so lovely to have so many different products to choose from as before I only had books and art prints!
We’re all big fans of your wonderful social media community, what’s your favourite thing about your followers?
That they are so kind and supportive and want the best for me. A lot of them have followed me from the beginning and they know the journey I’ve been on and the hard work I’ve put in. I will always remember that a few years ago when I was going through a break up and I was heartbroken a lot of them suddenly turned up at my stall to give me hugs, chocolates, marshmallows, teddies, and their own messages of support that they’d written to help me! One woman even came from Sweden with a pair of wrist warmers she’d hand-knitted for me to keep me warm. I was absolutely speechless at the extent of people’s kindness. I feel so lucky to have met all these nice people through my work!
What are your top tips for staying positive during a busy week?
So, my absolute non-negotiable is that I must have a relaxing Epsom salt bath if I feel I need one! I love baths and it’s one of the things I look forward to most days. So even on busy days I make sure I make time to get in that tub as that ‘me’ time is what keeps me going. I have been known to take a bath at midnight on super busy days!
What small changes could we make to help improve our mental wellbeing starting today?
Stop putting pressure on yourself and having expectations about how things should turn out. Just show up each day for what it has in store for you and don’t try and control the outcome. Try not to let things bother you as much, try to be present and try and get into nature each day, even if that’s ten minutes in the park. Nature always helps a revive weary, tired soul.
Finally, if you had to recommend one item from the Half Moon Bay May the Thoughts Be with You collection, what would it be and why?
The Wisdom Cards! I love them so much and they are flying off my stall. People say it’s so bizarre as they pull a card each day that seems like it was written exactly for them! I love it when I get feedback like that, it feels magical!
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Charlotte!