5 Minutes With Charlotte Martin, Creator Of Lifestyle Store, Cuemars
East London is absolutely bursting with small creative companies and colourful pop-ups; you’re never far away from a clothes shop that has its own secret bar, or a florist that also offers customers coffee and cake. And whilst plenty of these shops are great for a one off visit, it’s often hard to find any with specialties or expertise in the type of business they are promoting - which in turn can mean expensive, short-lived business plans and empty premises.
Whilst strolling along Hackney Road on a rainy Friday afternoon, I came across a shop that really caught my eye, and after a quick Google search I found that not only did the shop look appealing, it sounded rather impressive, too – ‘Cuemars is a creative local UK brand who combines the finest contemporary homeware with the passion of nature.’ In short, Cuemars is a beautiful independent lifestyle store boasting an array of lush, leafy house plants, intricate lighting, stationery, unique clothing and jewellery.
As I perused around the shop, I got talking to owner and creator, Charlotte Martin, about starting a sustainable business, caring for the environment and embracing your green fingers…
Where did the idea for Cuemars come from?
We started Cuemars in April 2016. We’ve always had a clear vision of how we want to live; green, environmentally friendly and sustainable – these are essential for us and we wanted to share these ideas with others through our products.
What is your professional background?
Both my partner and I have studied business. I have a Master’s Degree in Business from a French business school with a specialisation in how to create your own small/startup business. Three years ago, we created a company that offers vintage and industrial lighting - this section is now integrated with Cuemars.
Why did you decide to focus on so many different areas?
We love fashion, homeware and plants - it was too difficult to choose just one area. Our project and vision can be applied to all of these areas, so we decided to not restrain ourselves too much.
How many people make up your team?
At the moment it’s just the two of us, my partner Amir and me. We’re planning to expand our team in January, as we have a new and exciting project coming…
Where do you find your inspiration?
Our biggest source of inspiration is nature.
Why do you think it’s important to buy responsibly from sustainable businesses?
When you buy sustainable products you create the demand for it. For example, when you buy organic cotton clothes, you increase the demand for this material. Conventional cotton growers use about 15% of the world’s pesticides and this in turn can have a big impact on the environment.
The legend of the hummingbird reflects our philosophy:
One day there was a terrible forest fire. All of the animals were terrified as they helplessly watched the disaster. Only the little hummingbird was busy, fetching a few drops of water with his beak to throw onto the fire. After a moment the armadillo, annoyed by this derisive agitation, said to him: "Hummingbird, are you crazy? You are not going to extinguish the fire with these drops of water.”
And the hummingbird replied: "I know, but I do my part.”
We are in the process of choosing a charity that care for the environment, in which we will give a percentage of our profit to.
What makes Cuemars different from other high-street or lifestyle stores?
Apart from being sustainable, we want to be human and enjoy the moments with our community. We want to make and collaborate with other creators and designers to offer thoughtful products.
What does an average day consist of in the store?
Usually we start early in the morning, preparing the online orders and answering any client emails, however each day is different for us as a small team; we have to deal with all aspects of the business such as designing our own products (plant hangers, terrariums…), accounting, marketing and social media, as well as finding new creators that match our vision.
Do you have a favourite product?
Personally, at the moment I love the self-sustainable terrarium. I find it kind of magic that the plants create their own eco system and almost don’t need watering. They’re also great for people who don’t have green fingers – they’re even easier to take care of than a cactus.
Do you have any in-store plans for Christmas?
For Christmas we are going to stay open late to give people who work throughout the day a chance to do their Christmas shopping. We are also looking at sourcing new products and working with local makers.
Cuemars is located on the corner of Hackney Road, E2 7NX
Interview: Sophia Chettleburgh