One to Watch: Charlie Porter
Meet the tour-de-force behind TAT London.
“I set up Tat London because I wanted to have something of my own.”
After losing her job as a Corporate Fundraiser at Kids Company when the charity closed in 2015, Charlie Porter took the moment to rethink her career entirely.
Tat London, a self-described online jumble shop with a blog attached, was a natural next step.
Having spent her childhood scouring antique shops and running around National Trust homes with her mother, a longtime interiors editor, Charlie had a natural eye for accessories and a fantastic instinct for how to setup a room.
“I love interiors, and I thought that this would give me an outlet to buy all these marvellous little bits that I see but don’t have any room for,” she continues.
From here, Charlie built the business cautiously, first running it as a “side hustle” while working as a Decoration Stylist at House & Garden.
Unlike some of the existing antique sellers that focus on ornate furniture, or expensive wares with lineage, Charlie has captured the millennial market—shoppers looking for unusual accessories or smaller decorative pieces. Her site is an ever-changing assortment of burnished mirrors, oil paintings from lesser-known artists, guilded candlesticks, and embroidered linen.
As the business grew and the interest widened, in 2019 Charlie left her job at Conde Nast to run Tat London full-time.
Put when Covid hit, it brought with it a whole new set of challenges. Typically, Charlie sourced her stock from markets, car boot sales, and interiors pop-ups across Europe. Suddenly, that all stopped.
“Just being online, you’re kind of having to teach yourself. Whereas if you could speak to the dealers and get to understand the provenance and what is particularly special, that’s the important thing,” says Charlie.
For her own customers, that in-person experience is something she has done her best to recreate through Tat’s blog, Instagram, and Tete a Tat interview series.
As Charlie grows the business, she is in the fortunate position of having no shortage of mentors in her orbit.
“I have been lucky enough to work with interiors experts Gabby Deeming and Ruth Sleightholme,” says Charlie of the two long-time House & Garden editors. “They continue to introduce me to brands and designers that I have never heard of, helping my tastes expand, and even now I surprise myself with what I like!”
Looking ahead, Charlie’s ambition is to marry what she learned while working in the charity sector with her passion for interiors.
Through her newsletter and 155K Instagram followers, Charlie consistently champions other young businesses and entrepreneurs, helping shed light on founders and companies she admires.
But beyond that, Charlie is under no illusions about how hard it is to run a business.
I looked at my orders the other day, and from the last four years, there’s been a few thousand orders, and I’ve packed every single one of them.
And to that end, every success but also every setback, it’s completely down to her. “And although that’s a horrid thought, I’m fine with it if I know I’ve worked hard and done my best.”