Meet the two West Essex women behind Yardart, a brilliant new alfresco artwork company
- Credit: Archant
From a friendship forged on the school run to partners in a successful business selling artworks for outside spaces, we meet the two women behind Yardart
Formed a little over a year ago, West Essex-based Yardart, run by friends Charlotte Clemence and Bex Lund, has gone from strength to stength with its unique range of exterior, perspex designs for outdoor spaces.
From gardens, patios and courtyards to balconies, hot tubs and swimming pools, this dynamic duo is on a mission to populate people’s outdoor spaces with beautiful and original artwork.
In fact, they’ve just signed a contract with John Lewis for an exclusive range, and all this in the midst of a pandemic: “We have been lucky in the fact that no one has been going away, but instead have wanted to make their gardens their place to holiday in,” explains Charlotte, who as well as co-founder, also creates many of Yardart’s most popular pieces.
“It’s meant that sales have been better than we could have ever imagined, and as well as the John Lewis deal, which we are so excited about, we have also been contacted by many boutique garden/interiors shops wanting us to build them collections too.”
It would be easy to pigeon hole Charlotte as the creative, while Bex is the more practical one (her background is in sales and online marketing, as well as working in the family outdoor lanscaping business), and while that’s partly true, it’s not the whole story.
“I am mainly fronting the online marketing and accounts,” says Bex. “But we both do a lot of the other areas together.”
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Indeed she has even recently dipped her toe into the creative side of the business, producing resin art that’s also proving popular with the outdoor art-loving market, thus joining Yardart’s ever expanding roster of artists.
“All our artists offer something very different,” explains Charlotte. “We know art is very subjective, so our ranges appeal to as wide an audience as possible. We want our site to be a platform for up and coming artists, so we are always looking for more talented individuals to become part of the Yardart family.”
Talking of families, Charlotte and Bex both have young ones of their own, which they have been busy juggling with Yardart, and even more so in recent months.
“Lockdown has certainly had its highs and lows,” admits Bex. “The toughest thing has been running the business with all three children at home, trying to home school the eldest two and amuse a toddler at the same time.
“But at the end of the day, I think the experience has made me more resilient, and taking even just the smallest baby steps forward in the business daily while allocating time for my family has been key.”
What has also made recent events far less of a struggle for Yardart than other companies is the fact everything is designed and made in the UK.
“We don’t import anything, which has been a godsend,” says Charlotte.
Indeed, keeping a close eye on the manufacturing process has meant that each piece is made to the highest standard, with durability, whatever the weather, guaranteed.
When asked what’s been their biggest challenge to date, Charlotte doesn’t hesitate: “Definitely the marketing. Because Yardart is unique it’s been difficult getting people to understand the concept.
“Getting across the fact that the frame is part of the print (we’ve worked long and hard to ensure they look authentic and 3D enough), but the art is actually only 5mm thick acrylic. Let’s just say we are still working on this.”
What one piece of advice would they give to someone about to start their own business?
“Be fluid and go with the flow,” offers Bex. “You can have the best plan in the world, but sometimes you need to change things along the way. That, and enjoy the ride!”