TEN QUESTIONS WITH DOMESTIC GODDESS, ASK CHARLIE
These days the norm is not a perfect housewife or domestic goddess, much of a home’s practical skills don’t come from generations of the past, in fact they come from a touch of a button on the internet. Long gone are the British traditions of women being the heart of the home. Whilst I am a complete feminist and believe that women can choose whether they want to hone their nesting skills, the idealist in me finds something quite endearing with the idea of creating the perfect home, being a culinary genius or just knowing what to do about practically everything.
Alas even if I wanted to, our heritage of being taught home economics, housewifery and practical skills at school has died a death and with peoples lives rushing by, families don’t necessarily have the time to pass down their worldly advice.
That is where Ask Charlie leads the way! Ask Charlie is a lifestyle blog that endeavours to teach practical life skills, from creating the perfect dinner party menu to the best way to treat headlice in young children. No stone is left unturned and the video tutorials offer invaluable easy to follow advice. Website creator, Charlie Gray has many strings to her bow, ranging from an expertise in Aga cooking to successfully running a B&B. Charlie’s main aim is to teach the nation her tips, hints and know-how through practical experiences that are guaranteed to make life just that little bit easier.
Tell me about your background?
I started out as a Summer Au Pair in Spain, and I had an amazing time teaching the children English. When I returned, I completed a fashion degree and then went into refurbishing properties. I recently ran a business with a friend called Sleepycozy, offering beautiful nightwear, cot bumpers and sleeping bags for young children. Nowadays however I am concentrating on running my lifestyle blog and YouTube channel Ask Charlie, whilst continuing to host our Airbnb’s in both the Sussex and Devon countryside.
What inspired you to start Ask Charlie?
I have always been so inspired by TV shows such as The Durrell’s or The Good Life. That way of living really appeals to me as I absolutely love being outdoors and pride myself on being incredibly practical. Family is the main thing that drives me, and I wanted to do something that fits around my family life. The children love nothing more than to help with the gardening or feeding the animals, for me, it is a good way to ensure that they stay grounded. I want to know that I have instilled that practicality in the children, and luckily, they are more than happy to oblige. I had toyed with various other ideas such as courses teaching nannies, au pairs and housekeepers’ further or advanced practical skills, but that came with its own set of obstacles. I knew that I wanted to bring back a style of home economics and believed that the website was a natural progression.
What makes you stand out?
Practical skills really have died a death and people are no longer benefiting from the previous generation’s wisdom. I am working to bridge that gap and striving to encompass ‘the whole package’ as much as possible. I have always wanted to cover the whole spectrum and offer advice, from what are the best products to have in the house to treat a cold, to how to ensure you host the very best dinner party. There really is no one else offering such a broad variety of practical skills.
Who is your target audience?
Generally, it is millennial's from London, first time home owners, newlyweds and older ladies and gentlemen. If I am honest, I was pleasantly surprised that I recently had a group of gentlemen come to one of my practical cooking courses. I have found the whole experience massively rewarding, it feels so great to see how the courses have been giving people confidence to try new things.
Are there any exciting plans for 2019?
This year I am concentrating on expanding the reach of the website. I believe that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well and I never want to stop learning, so I will be picking up some technical skills such as Social Media and Photography along the way. I have also planned to increase the number of courses that I offer, to include BBQ cooking, how to create the perfect picnic and sewing.
Who do you really admire?
I have always admired my mother. She passed on so many tips and taught me so much about practical life skills. From amazing recipes, to darning socks and the best way to ensure your washing is virtually crease free after a wash, she taught me all manner of things. I find it surprising and a little sad that people aren’t taught these skills anymore. They can be vital in ensuring a stress-free lifestyle.
Describe your average day?
I always start the day at 6.15am and try to work out before the children get up. I love to run, and I find it very therapeutic, however, I am currently using the Ultimate Shred workout and absolutely loving it. The children rise at 7am, so I make them a healthy breakfast and help them get ready for school. My husband, Simon then does the school run while I feed the animals – we currently have two ponies, dogs and chickens. Once that is finished, I generally set out my day to work around filming, planning and cooking for my website. I will also fit in an afternoon dog walk and do the school run, before ensuring that my family have a beautiful home cooked meal.
What challenges have you faced?
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Hyper Mobility and osteoporosis. The Doctor ordered me to have complete bed-rest. It was one on the most challenging times of my life. I seemed to always be injuring myself, in fact looking back I had been having problems since I was very young. My diagnosis effected my life massively, it was a constant worry and challenging whilst rising my three wonderful children.
How did you overcome them?
Luckily, I found a great doctor who advised me that the best way to overcome my diagnosis was exercise. Since then there has been no stopping me. I work out daily, usually completing the Ultimate Shred in the morning or running. In January, I completed the Runuary challenge. It was hard running every day but was utterly worth it as I managed to raise money for the Sussex Snowdrop Foundation. These days I try to make it fun and get the children involved as much as possible by going for long walks in the countryside or family bike rides.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Fingers crossed, the Ask Charlie website will continue to gain popularity. I find it a real joy helping people, it has been incredibly rewarding, plus I love what I do. Although it is just a dream for now, eventually I would love to write a book on Practical Skills. For me that would be the icing on the cake.