Meet Nadia El Meallem
We love celebrating strong, successful women here at The Caviar Spoon ReBelle, which is why we’ve created ReBelles. These are the women who are working it and owning it in life, work, and everything in between. Our newest #rebelleboss is Nadia El Meallem, the founder and designer of UK cult brand Crown Love.
When a press release for a woman-owned British ethical fashion and accessory brand called Crown Love popped up in our inbox, we were immediately curious. We’ve been putting a strong focus on ethical practices, sustainability, and conscious luxury lately, so whenever anything (or anyone) falls into one of those categories, we’re always ready to find out more.
We contacted Nadia El Meallem, the founder and designer for Crown Love, who was game for our #rebelleboss Q&A to share some insights into her fashion brand that’s been seen on the likes of Ellie Goulding and Mollie King. Oh, did we mention that she’s also a PR consultant? Yep, like so many entrepreneurs and emerging talent, Nadia has plenty of plates spinning in the air!
The Crown Love brand draws inspiration from Nadia’s love of British fashion, the Royals, and Britain’s history - in particular, the love story of King Edward VIII who abdicated the throne to marry American socialite and divorcée Wallis Simpson. The resulting aesthetic is a mix of quirkiness and humour, with hints of vintage vibes and a good splash of youthful girlishness thrown in for some fun.
Q&A With Nadia
Ed. note: some answers have been edited for clarity
Please tell us about your career to date.
After a Foundation course in Art and Design and a degree in Fashion Promotion, I began working in fashion and lifestyle PR in London. I landed my first in-house role at Selfridges press office and later also launched myself as a fashion illustrator.
About 8 years ago, I went solo and set myself up as a freelance consultant (Nadia PR) following the end of a year contract working at Save the Children’s press office. Throughout my PR career I have worked with 100s of top global names and work has taken me to many exciting destinations such as New York, Barcelona and Paris.
5 years ago I launched Crown Love.
When did you have your “AHA!” moment with your business concept Crown Love?
Having worked with so many different fashion labels throughout my fashion PR career helped define a very clear vision of my brand vision and story. Going freelance allowed me to have more time and I started exploring the idea of launching my own brand and getting more creative. I wanted to create long-lasting ethical fashion, combined with my love of British fashion and the British Royals - the Crown Love concept was born.
Can you please elaborate on the ethical sourcing?
Our UK manufacturer is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, which support ethically sourced products and they are at the forefront of ethical standards. When buying Crown Love products you know where the cotton has come from and that it has been produced with workers rights being observed.
All accessories are hand made in the UK. Crown Love is not only for the fashion conscious buyer, but also the buyer who cares about where and how the garment is produced.
You’ve had an extensive career doing PR and Communications for various fashion and lifestyle brands. Now that you’re also on the other side as the founder and designer of your own fashion brand, do you constantly have to switch mindsets? Is it more of a challenge to promote Crown Love since you’re so close to it, or is it just business as usual?
I am fortunate to have such a broad understanding of the business and be able to work with different ‘hats’ on. Having said that promoting your own brand can be challenging; however I have learnt to detach and treat it as business as usual!
Who has inspired you the most in your journey and why?
There have been so many inspirational moments, people, and influences throughout my journey. I am inspired by pioneering architects such as Gaudi who pushed the artistic boundaries of the time. My regular travels to Morocco whilst growing up were also a great inspiration, taking in all the vibrant colours and culture. I love British designers such as the likes of Vivienne Westwood, who were part of a real movement. Classics such as Alaïa and Chanel are always a source of inspiration.
What's been the biggest reward to date being a businesswoman and entrepreneur?
The biggest reward is being able to be creative, having the freedom to be flexible with my time and also give back. I am a specialist ambassador for the Prince’s Trust so I am able to spend some of my free time when possible helping to mentor young entrepreneurs. I get to work with great people and different businesses across the globe. I have been very blessed to have some great people working on Crown Love, too.
And the biggest challenge?
Trying to get everything done myself! Managing myself and my time.
What do you do when faced with a creative block?
Switch it up and do something else creative - write, cook, anything!
How do you measure success?
Happiness and the ability to be creative, combined with freedom.
The biggest learning lesson since founding your business?
Not everything is going to work or happen immediately and that’s ok!
What advice would you give to women looking to succeed in the workplace or with their own business?
Define clear goals for yourself and surround yourself with like-minded people. Follow your intuition, work hard and smart. Learn from others but carve your own path. Everyone’s journey is different.
What makes the “Crown Love” woman? Who do you design for?
She's creative, a bit quirky and doesn’t take herself seriously. My designs are created to make people feel good.
Do you have any style icons (past or present) who you look to for inspiration or appreciation?
I love Solange Knowles’ style; I am also a fan of the Made in Chelsea girls. Louise Thompson has a great style and knows how to wear our Alice Bands!
What does your process look like, from concept to creation, when designing a new collection?
I usually put together trend and inspiration boards. I also go out and check out what’s happening on the high street and department stores, then put pen to paper and start designing. I also use my imagination and music to conjure up new designs - I am a bit of a daydreamer!
Tell us about one of your favourite or most memorable projects/designs
It has to be one of the first prints I designed, which featured a hand drawing on a vest. The item got called in by Kimberly Walsh’s manager and Kimberley wore it throughout her time on Strictly Come Dancing on live TV and on all her press shots.
Are there any pieces in your collection that are in constant rotation in your own closet?
I love the Royal Stones Alice Bands - they can be worn with almost anything! I am always wearing the t-shirts and sweatshirts. They are such good, high quality and wash so well.
In 24 months’ time, Crown Love will look like this…
An extended accessory collection…
When the going gets tough, you…
Call my mum for advice or step back! Sometimes you need to take a complete step back and then revisit.
A healthy work/life balance is different for everyone. What does balance look like for you?
I am big on recharging my batteries, and an advocate of sleep (confirmed by reading Arianna Huffington’s book, Sleep Revolution). It’s all about balance. Sometimes I work all weekends, other times I completely switch off. I also try and fit in things I love doing as much as possible to keep a balance - dancing, reading, spending time with loved ones, etc.
What do you do to unwind, refresh, and recharge?
Dance, read, walk, sleep! I live 15 minutes away from Hyde Park. I love taking long walks down the park.
3 words to describe your clientele
Bold, carefree, and fun
3 words to describe you (your brand)
Environmentally conscious, fun, and creative
One woman in business who deserves a shout-out…And why?
There are so many. I love Michelle Georgina Mone, Baroness Mone! I’ve always admired her business mind and hearing about her rollercoaster business journey and advice at a recent talk was phenomenal and so inspiring.
Your motivational quote
Believe in yourself! Corny but true.
Your business mantra
Changes all the time but just keep moving forward!
Is there anything not covered above that you want to share with us? Developments, upcoming projects, something we should keep an eye out for?
Some pop-up shops in the pipeline, so keep an eye out for this! Also working on some bespoke accessories for some celebrities - very exciting!