Lucinda Chambers, Fashion Designer and Founder of Collagerie

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Working from home with…

2020 has suddenly and unexpectedly pitched many of us into the world of working from home. And we’ve all had to adapt to working together while staying apart. We’re asking people we know or admire or both to tell us about how not going into the office anymore has influenced the way they get things done. Do they have a dedicated home office? Have they recruited family members to help out? Has having meetings onscreen changed the dynamic?

First up is Lucinda Chambers

Lucinda is one of the two founders of Collagerie, the online store offering an expertly curated selection of fashion, beauty, interiors and lifestyle products. The other founder is Serena Hood and both of them previously worked at British Vogue, Lucinda as Fashion Director for 25 years. She’s also worked as creative consultant and stylist for a range of names taking in both the high street and luxury style, including Prada and H&M.

How would you describe your job and what you do?

I started answering this by putting what you already have in the introduction! I thought it was easy… but actually DESCRIBING my job really isn’t!  No day is the same, it’s probably why I have always loved working in this field. Some days I am glued to a screen finding the best product out there, some days I’m actually out there looking for it. Other days I am on a shoot. Or I’m in meetings. It’s always been creative, but now there are a lot of business things to do. This is really challenging but very rewarding at the same time. Learning lots of new things that I never thought I would do, mostly around tech. It’s extremely exciting though, and I am lucky enough with Colville and Collagerie in that my partners are both wonderful!

What was your normal pre-lockdown daily office routine?

I would either cycle or catch a bus or drive into work, now I am ALWAYS going to cycle. Grab a coffee at Adriana’s, the best café, and it’s local, and head into the office. I usually work quite late as all my children have left home and we are a start-up so that’s ok. It goes with the territory and I like being in the office catching up or just letting my mind wander around ideas that we are cooking up.

Had you spent much time working from home before now?

I have never worked from home, in fact, took very little maternity leave when I was at Vogue. It’s the only thing I regret. I should have been bolder about that.

Do you have an office or dedicated working space at home?

Now I do. We have my youngest son home, so he’s in the dining room, my husband’s upstairs in his work room and I am in our TV room, which I think is great as it’s got a fire, which I loved at beginning of lockdown, and it gets the sun now. That’s how long we have been in this situation, watching the seasons sharply change.

How have you had to adapt your old routine?

Well, I’ve had to get used to seeing my face THE WHOLE time on Zoom, which I am used to now, but it took a while. I’m not usually a looker in the mirror type, which is almost a vanity in itself, so that’s interesting. I haven’t been able to swim which I really miss. I don’t break up the day like I did before, with meetings, new people, out of the office. I miss that, but have become oddly used to it, this new normal. Each week has had a different flavour, and even though they have merged into each other with outwardly very little difference, they feel emotionally different. They are a lot more tiring.

Have you enjoyed the experience so far?

I always enjoy new experiences. I have also really counted my blessings. I have a garden so that has taken on huge importance and I have really enjoyed that, having the space at the weekends just to do that, focus on that and nothing else. Usually I am an activity junkie, but I have slowed this down, one thing at a time. So, I think that’s good, to have changed that up a bit.

One thing I have been unable to do is to read. I usually read at least a book every week or so. Nothing, not one. Several people I have talked to say this as well. I would like to know what that’s about. Concentration, maybe? On Zoom calls all day I think you have to really focus. You don’t have the road signs that you normally do when meeting someone for the first time. I think that it’s tiring.

Do you think you’ve learned anything from it?

Yes, I think I have learnt things. From little things about how to do tech stuff and not be afraid to play around on the computer. Also, to understand and realise that we can all work in a different way. At least have conversations around it because it’s a massive thing to have done, to keep working from home and build on that. So, I think the biggest thing to have learnt is that things don’t always have to be the same just because they’ve always been done in the same way.

What do you miss most about going into the office?

I miss going out and about, work and pleasurable things. Just seeing different things to feed the brain. I miss that. If you are at the computer all day, you are editing the things you are seeing the whole time. I like the surprises, I miss them.

Do you feel you’ve lost a connection with work colleagues?

No, we all speak for quite a long time every morning and throughout the day… it’s like they’re in the room with me!

Do you still get dressed for work?

I didn’t and now I do.  Not hugely, but taking care. I always have on the table in front of me a dish with different earrings on. I take them on and off throughout the day!  Don’t ask me why… I really enjoy clothes, I guess.

Do you think this is going to change the way many of us work for good?

It’s definitely making me question everything that’s for sure. I have to say, I’m glad to see light at the end of the tunnel because I think nothing beats face-to-face creative conversations… something always comes out of them unexpectedly… just to have that back and forth. But yes, I think this will change the way of working. People will have realised that you can do things differently and that’s all up for discussion!

Photograph by Virginie Khateeb.