"My brand is what I wished boho brands were like."
Meet Charlotte - The Boho Badass of Ottawa Fashion
At Gather Local, we believe in supporting local businesses. Today's hosting tip is:
Dress the part.
That's where Rain & Moonwater comes in.
Charlotte is the owner and designer of local fashion house, Rain & Moonwater. By day she works in marketing, but at every coffee break, she's dreaming of a world where fashion is inclusive and unique to the individual. That's what her brand, Rain & Moonwater, stands for.
Ottawa is amazing. It was everything I was missing in Toronto.
While she grew up in London, Ontario, and got her fashion design training in England, Ottawa is home. Not only is Ottawa the place where her boho dreams became reality, but it's the place where she's found the right support network of local makers & fashion professionals to help her along.
How It Began
I don’t feel like I fit the stereotype of a fashion person.
While you wouldn't know it now, Charlotte describes her younger-self as being a tomboy. From a young age she hated shopping and clothing, but soon realized that her distaste wasn't for fashion, but for the way that the industry treated her body type.
I’m not built like a model.
Determined to carve out her own space in the industry, Charlotte started working for a designer in her hometown where she got a crash-course in fashion and also became a seamstress. She even made her own prom dress! From there it was clear that this would be a life-long passion for her and she and began applying to fashion schools.
While travelling Europe as a fashion student, Charlotte noticed how other cultures treated clothing and how vastly different it was from what she knew back home. She recognized that North America was (and is) in the middle of a fast-fashion crisis, and she was determined that her brand would be different.
Local. Responsible. Unique.
After graduating, Charlotte worked as a technical designer before moving to Ottawa and launching her own brand. When she left the fast-paced fashion industry, she knew that slow fashion was more her speed (yes, that's a thing). Charlotte wanted to build an intentional brand that was not only local and responsible, but she wanted to offer products that were:
...as colourful as everyone’s personality
Fast forward to today, Charlotte has built her business around small-batch textile dying. Using a process called ice dying, she uses all natural fibres like bamboo, cotton and silks because they dye best and because:
I’m an advocate of sustainability and being mindful of your clothing choices
Charlotte believes that hand-dying every product pays homage to the individual, even though each piece takes 24 hours to set! Every scarf, scrunchie, kimono and mask in her current collection is unique and hand-finished, to the highest standard. Her brand name, Rain & Moonwater, is a reflection of this and her love of water, but her brand actually started out under a different name.
Beginning as H20, Charlotte quickly realized that her first brand wasn't flexible enough to fit her big dreams for the future.
Collections are easy, but to commit to something that’s a full brand is hard because I have so many different styles.
Rain & Moonwater was the perfect solution to this, and came to be in a brainstorming session with one of her biggest supporters.
While Rain & Moonwater may have started out as H20, the brand name is not the only thing that's changed over the last 3 years - Charlotte's changed too!
I'm a perfectionist.
Charlotte started off with the dream-of-dreams: to create a high-end (read: expensive) clothing line in a very specific style. She soon realized that wouldn’t work, and she started to build her brand slowly, beginning with silk scarves. With each product she launches, she gains more confidence - especially when she sees people she's never met loving her product. Her advice?
Instead of imaging yourself starting at the top, you have to start at the bottom
She also quotes Reid Hoffman, "If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late;" stating that a start is a start. And that's enough.
Recently, there's a little thing called COVID that has had a big impact on Ottawa's entire maker community!
It's strange to say, but:
2020 has helped me. I pivoted into making face masks.
While Charlotte's face masks are ice dyed and still very much on-brand, it's definitely not something this shop owner had envisioned at the start of the year. It pushed her to learn how to handle a product in high-demand and allowed her to help the community that supported her on her fashion journey.
2020 pushed me out of the box and forced me to learn some things I didn’t plan on learning, or maybe I put off learning.
One of these things was ramping up her online business on Etsy, which you can check out here!
While it's clear there's big things on the horizon for Rain & Moonwater, Charlotte is the most excited about learning more about eco dying so she can expand her product range. And, you heard it here first:
I look forward to having a big spring and summer collection!
And now for some Q&A! Check out Charlotte's responses to our rapid-fire questions:
Who/what inspires you?
Water, other makers, Australian brands and anything boho.
What does supporting local mean to you?
Putting your money where your heart is.
Going out of your way to make someone’s day rather than mindlessly buying off Amazon. Making mindful decisions about who you’re buying from. Keeping money in your local economy. Buying local is a full circle event.
Who are your favourite local restaurants/artisans/makers/bakers/creatives?
- Wood on Wellington (pub)
- Tennessee Williams (wood oven pizza)
- Pure Kitchen (vegan)
- Simply Biscotti (bakery)
- Rebecca Rowe: Capsule creator (fashion line)
- Gemma by Design (jewellery)
- Birch Jewellery
- Sunday Skies @sundayskies_studio
What is your favourite type of event or get-together?
Live concerts! Nothing beats live music and the vibe of being in a crowd. You’re part of something bigger than you. Actually, music festivals helped inspire my kimonos!
My dream would to see everyone in the front row of a festival wearing Rain & Moonwater.
Do you have any hosting tips you’d like to share?
Less is more.
It’s important to remember people aren’t there for your food, they’re there for your company.
How can our readers support you and your business?
Follow my crazy journey, leave a comment, or tag me! But most importantly, word of mouth is huge for local designers, so please tell your friends!
Rivertown Creative Boutique in Deep River ,ON
In-person markets (post-lockdown)
Thanks for supporting local!