Charlotte moved to Australia from Denmark and is married to Matthew with three beautiful children, Josephine, Leia and Malvin. While having young children, Charlotte is also building a fantastic business www.fromearth.com.au specialising in beauty products that are handcrafted and poured from the best naturally sourced ingredients. Charlotte’s business is now going from strength to strength. It was this amazing (or so I thought) story that first drew me to ask Charlotte to join the Women Who Choose Series. I had no idea that what Charlotte would share, made my version of her story quite insignificant.
Trigger warning: this story contains sensitive content which may distress some readers.
Charlotte has now chosen to share her story, primarily to inspire and give hope to young women who may not see a way forward for themselves. Charlotte knows this feeling only too well, how dark it can be as a young girl and teenager, feeling overwhelming despair and depression. Charlotte also wants to inspire the Mums out there looking to create and run their own business.
When first meeting Charlotte I was struck by her natural beauty, her kind nature and what I saw as her inner calm, my further assumption was that she was a lovely young woman (I got that part right), that had most likely led a relatively charmed life.
Charlotte grew up on a farm in Denmark, with a Norwegian Mother and a Father who is Danish. Growing up on the farm, Charlotte always had a fascination for using dried leaves and flowers and when she was little, she would steal her sister’s creams and mix them in jars to make “her own” creams, that usually turned into a mess.
I guess at this point we may all be thinking of some picturesque farm with rolling hills, green grass and blue skies. Some of this may have been true but while the family lived on a farm, Charlotte’s Father owned a very successful flooring company and her Mother owned her own shop. From the age of 10, Charlotte was mostly left to her own devices, (apart from her horse and cat that were her best friends at the time) and did not see her parents until 8pm-10pm most evenings.
While our kids were still being kids, Charlotte had learned to wash her own clothes, got herself to school on most days and made her own lunch and had learned to cook dinner.
By the age of 12, she started smoking and drinking and by age 14, was self-harming by cutting her arms and had attempted suicide. At this time Charlotte’s parents divorced and for Charlotte, life improved as her parent were around more. By the age of 16 Charlotte left home, dropped out of school and worked full time, including 3 months in England as an Au-pair. The world can be a dark and dangerous place for a 16 year old girl out there on her own and at the age of 17, Charlotte found herself in an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship.
Her ex-boyfriend, had grown up with an abusive Father in-law, and had adopted the same manipulative language and act of treating others. While extremely charming to most, he had another personality at home. Charlotte was made to sleep on the floor boards in her own apartment and told that she was worthless. Charlotte believed these things were all true and that she deserved to be treated like that. At the age of 19 Charlotte escaped to America (Seattle) to sing in a band.
At age 21, Charlotte came to Australia as an Au-Pair, but found it hard to connect with those around her, understandably feeling most people misunderstood her and they most likely did. During this time though Charlotte met Matthew, who was 13 years older, they quickly moved in together and were engaged within 6 months.
You have been through so much Charlotte, what was the key turning point in your life?
Meeting Matthew, he understood me and more importantly he loved me with all my scars, we quickly became best friends. After only 3 months we moved in together, and within 6 months we got engaged. By the time I was turning 22 we got married and I officially moved to Australia – after everything I had been through It was an easy decision to move here – I had never before been this happy.
Your younger years were extremely traumatic, to the point you attempted suicide, what ultimately kept you going?
It is so hard being a teenager, I got bullied at school a lot by the other girls – As a teenager, it is very easy to believe in the negative things being said and if you don’t have strong support from home you can quickly fall into a hole. My parents never meant to not be there, I think they were just so caught up with their own lives that they didn’t realise what was going on, as I didn’t tell them much either.
However, when they got divorced my Mum especially started noticing that things were off and she sent me to a psychiatrist to get help – my Dad also started trying more, but in the big picture I believe it was my sister who kept me going – she once told me, that if I ever decided to commit suicide, I would be the most selfish person she had ever met. She didn’t say this to make me feel bad and I knew this – She said it, because she loved me so much and I would have broken her world if I had done it – And I loved her too much, to ever break her heart.
I want young girls to know that while you may not know or feel it at the time, you are loved, there is hope and life will get better, you need to hang in there and get help. Life has so much more to give you. My early life was really tough, but I am in such a great place now. I have a beautiful family and I am doing what I love. I could not have imagined this life when I was a teenager, but I have it now and you can too.
What happened after you got married and moved to Australia?
Within a year of getting married we had our first daughter, she was born weighing 1.5kg (3.3 pounds) and I went into post-natal depression after expressing milk and feeding her every 3 hours, with only 1.5 hours sleep in between, that went on for 3 months. I kept expressing for 8 months, I never gave up. Times were tough, the only person I really knew was Matthew and I really missed having friends and family around.
Even after this, I wanted another baby, so my children were close in age, Leia was born one year later, with Josephine being just 18 months older. and then Malvin came. I had all 3 children within 4 years. And then we bought a house!
When Malvin was a year old, I was talked into doing an multi-level marketing business, to earn some extra money. After 2 months of doing this, I ran away from this as fast as I could. The company was manipulating facts of what ingredients such as “parabens” were and why they were used in their products.
Having always been a keen cook and gardener I started to make my own skin care products for me and for my family. I wanted to prove that skin care could be made using 100% natural ingredients.
Turned out I was good at it! After a few months I was blending oils, butters, wax, clay and more the same way I was mixing pasta, tomato and basil in a kitchen. It came naturally and I loved doing it
So why did you start your own business?
It certainly wasn’t for the money, I didn’t start my own business to become rich. Matthew earns more than enough to support us. I found something that ticked, something that made me feel proud and happy to share, something that I believe changes lives because it is organic and doesn’t give you breast cancer or play with your hormones so you can’t have children.
I love what I do, I feel like this is what I was born to do. This gives me the energy to work at my business long after the children have gone to bed. It doesn’t feel like work, when you are doing what you love.
I love when people come to me with their concerns regarding their skin and I love to help them out however I can.
After everything you have been through and what you have achieved, who was your biggest support?
Everything that I have become is thanks to Matthew, he let me be me and encouraged me in everything that I ever wanted to do. Matthew is also a great support in my business, he is the best father to our three children and gives me the time I need to do the work I love.
Also since starting my business, the people I now spend time with has changed. I spend time with other women that either have their own business or they work. I have found that this has helped me stay focused and energised. We talk about what’s working, share ideas and support each other.
What’s next with your business?
We have just been at the Beauty Expo in Melbourne, which was a fantastic experience that led to many contacts – I am currently selling to salons and getting into more shops, in August I have the Reed Gift Fair in Melbourne that I am very excited to attend as well, we said we would get into Victoria this year and NSW next year.
I have got two lines within my business, my beauty products and my range of herbal teas. I sell the teas to coffee shops as well. I am looking to keep expanding my products into gift shops, beauty salons and cafes that want to provide natural and organic products.
What advice would you give to other women facing a tough start to life?
I’d like to make other girls who have been through bad-times, maybe dropped out of school, realise that life has not ended. I feel devastated when I meet young girls who feel like their life is destroyed and they have nothing because of their teenage years. I want to give them hope and let them see they can get through this and have a better life. I would also say, find what you are passionate about – Life becomes so much more fun when you start doing things for passion!
What advice would you give your younger self?
I am not sure, but I know that what my mother told me is true –
If you ever meet anyone, who puts you down or bullied you, it is because they have a lower self-esteem. They simply thrive on keeping you down to make themselves look better. The truth is, they made me strong, very strong – to the point that I feel like I can do anything now.
And, I love Disney’s famous words for success “If you can dream it, you can achieve it”
Charlotte wants others to benefit from her success so 10% of all our profit goes impoverished children in Africa.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a difficult time, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
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