The Grove Resident: Charlie Marshall, MD, Loaf
Mon 01 Jul 2013
The Dock Kitchen is my secret thing. I just slip out, with twenty quid in my back pocket, and i go there for a quick lunch,' says Charlie, explaining why 'the underbelly of Ladbroke Grove' is the perfect place to be.
'From Dock Kitchen, you can see the Innocent HQ, Fruit Towers, and it strikes me that there is an energy in this part of the town that fuels an entrepreneurial spirit.'
A lost Saturday spent in the seach for the perfect bed inspired Charlie to start his own company, founding The Sleep Room in 2009 in Ladbroke Grove, which he went on to rename, Loaf.
On the day before our interview, I recieve the new Loaf catalogue in the post. If you don't know the company, to give you an idea, there is a new dressing table and stool called Thelma and Louise.
The oak is weathered, the colours are neutral and the textures are squashy. While so many brands and retailers are struggling, Loaf is growing. Currently selling around 400 beds and sofas a week. It is Charlie's long-term aim to grow it into a 1billion business.
'For me it's not about money,' says Charlie. 'That doesn't motivate me. I have to do things really well.' Simplicity is a core value. 'We only sell one mattress. My best friend is a don at Oxford and his belief is, "Reduce, reduce, reduce". A big range is lazy. Whats's hard is to pare something down.' Before beds and sofas, Charlie made soup. Primal Soup was his first venture, "For me it's not about money. I have to do things well. A big range is lazy, what's hard is to pare something down" in the late nineties when he became the soup producer for everyone from All Bar One to Pret a Manger, selling the business in 2005.
'I realisedI wasn't as obsessed about food as I am about design. Describing himself as 'unemployable entrepreneur', Charlie knows his market, '35-55-year-old women, ' he says. 'Half of them wear Converse trainers.'
His own house is 'full of all the rejected samples.' He enjoys the 'faded grandeur' of Mapesbury with his wife Melissa and their two children Horace and Minna. His wife is a book editor, her offical Loaf job title is Head of Words. You can buy a chest of drawers called Horace and a rug called Minna. Charlie was born in Notting Hill grew up in a 'big old rambling house' in Stanley Crescent. His father owned Marsh & Parsons and his mother founded the Holland Park Nursery School in the basement. Charlie and his three sisters went to nursery school in their own house. The area changed so much, from a place full of 'drug addicts and bedsits' , that when Tina Turner moved in the opposite, his parents moved Ladbroke Grove.
Hungry for growth, he plans to biuld a larger space, further out of town called the Loaf Shack; a dream destination for the Converse-wearing customers and where children will be happy to hang out.