Meet some real-life heroes in my series of special interviews with people who represent the spirit and heart of the North East.
Charlotte Falloon is the founder of NEFEMPOWERMENT, a community showcasing the women and small businesses who make the North of England so magical.
In this interview, Charlotte tells us about NEFEMPOWERMENT, her favourite place in the region, and more…
Charlotte, please can you tell us a bit about you and your connection with the North East?My name is Charlotte Falloon and I’m 25 years old. I was born in Sunderland, raised in Houghton-le-Spring, and went to school in Washington. In my teens I always envisaged myself moving away to London and living the ultimate city life, but as I got older, my ideas and plans changed and I discovered just how special the North-East is. My whole family are from the North-East, so I have a strong connection with the region. Now, I couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else.
Tell us all about NEFEMPOWERMENT! What made you want to start it? What do you love most about the work you do?NEFEMPOWERMENT is a community showcasing the women and small businesses who make the North of England so magical. The community originally came from a university project for a community module back in March 2020. We were given free reign of the module and the topic for our communities. As I have always felt so strongly about empowering ALL women, including my friends, family, colleagues and even strangers, I thought that this would be perfect community for me to build. There was lots of research carried out before launching, where I discovered that there wasn’t a space like this for women in the North that covered everything. From success stories, recommendations, taboo topics and mental health focus. Therefore, I wanted to create a one-stop-shop, a safe, inclusive, and positive space online for Northern women to come to feel inspired and celebrated. In August 2021 I lost my Mam, very suddenly to COVID-19, and I have found a lot of solitude and escapism in the NEFEMPOWERMENT community and for that I am forever grateful. There are so many other aspects I love about the work I do, from the people I meet, the small businesses I discover, the incredible stories I’m told, helping and supporting the women in the region, making new friends, networking, all whilst having lots of fun – the list is endless! NEFEMPOWERMENT is a very special thing that I’ve created, I’m really proud of myself and this is only just the beginning.
I’m so sorry to hear about your mum, Charlotte. The community that you have created is marvellous and so celebratory of our region and all it has to offer – exactly why you are a North East Hero!
Is there one place in the region you always like to visit that you would recommend others to visit?My go-to spot, whatever mood I am in, is Roker beach in Sunderland. It’s so beautiful. I love wandering along the pier towards the lighthouse, grabbing a coffee at one of the many small businesses along the riviera. Occasionally going for a sea dip. Waking up early for the stunning sunrise. Bumping into old friends and new. Enjoying the cute dogs running around carelessly and taking a moment to myself, breathing in the sea air. Even dolphin spotting, although I’m yet to see one myself! When I’m sad and I go to Roker beach, my mood improves. When I’m feeling unmotivated, It helps me find my motivation. When I’m feeling lonely, I visit Roker beach and I never feel alone. It’s crazy how a place can do so much for someone. If you haven’t been before, I can’t recommend it enough.
That’s a great recommendation! There’s nothing like being on the coast to blow the cobwebs away. Hard to pick, I know, but do you have a few favourite shops or businesses you think everyone should know about in the region?Absolutely! There are SO many businesses in the region that I am obsessed with. From hair salons, coffeeshops, music venues, pop-ups, florists, fitness brands, and self-care companies. The region is bursting with so much opportunity. Some of my favourite’s include: West Barn Co – WBCo have been one of my most loved beauty brands for so many years and Kimberley Cattin, one of the co-founders, has been a huge inspiration to me. The story behind WBCo is nothing short of incredible. Kim and her Mam, Donna, created the original Soap Brows in their kitchen in the North-East and the brand have since become an international success. Pop Recs – Pop Recs in Sunderland is a café, music and arts venue and community hub. The team behind Pop Recs work so hard to allow this space to be inclusive, diverse, and as amazing as possible. They are also home to the famous Detroit pizza pop-up, Midnight Pizza Cru, that, if you haven’t sampled already, you’re really missing out! Flamingo Café – Is a health-focused food business located in Seaham. The venue itself is gorgeous, the food is delicious and its dog friendly too. There’s just something about picking up a Matcha Latte and having a stroll along the coastline that hits different. I recently hosted my 2nd “Babes in Business” networking event here alongside the founder of Flamingo Café, Hannah Jackson, and the founder of Under the Ivy florist, Rebecca Taylor. It’s one of my proudest moments to date. Under the Ivy – As mentioned above, Rebecca Taylor is a florist based in Sunderland and her work is just exquisite. The services she offers include weddings, special occasions, memorials, and most recently a Self Love Club subscription service – which I ADORE! Behålla Store – Meaning “to keep”. Based in Whitley Bay, this is a conscious lifestyle store selling a range of houseplants, vintage clothing, and homeware. Such a cool space and the perfect place to pick up a gift for a loved one whilst supporting local.
Those are some amazing recommendations, some of which are new to me and have been added to my list!
It’s often said that the people and landscapes of the North East are full of ‘spirit’ and ‘heart’. What do you love most about the region?The people. I may be bias, but Northerners are the most inviting, welcoming, and kind people in the world. The community spirit. We love to help one another, and nothing is a bother. The architecture. The buildings. The beautiful streets of Newcastle. The bridges. The artwork. Wow. The lifestyle. The mix of the hustle and bustle and city life in comparison to the chilled, serene coastal and countryside vibe. It’s the best of both worlds which suits me perfectly. The accent, and the many variations of Mackem, Geordie, Northumberland and Teeside… need I say more?
I completely agree! The North East is packed with history, myths and legends, songs and folklore. Do you have a favourite story or song that you associate with the area?For me, it’s the old saying “You know you’re nearly home when you see Penshaw Monument” – this will only relate to those who live within a few miles of the National Trust site and I’m one of them. For me, this little saying is a reminder of my childhood, wherever I have been travelling and no matter who I am with, when driving along the A1 and seeing the monument in the distance, I always get that warm feeling inside. We’re almost home.
What is your favourite North-Eastern slang? What does it mean?“Shy Bairns Get Nowt” – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Which three words spring to mind when you think of the North East?Community. Passion. Magical.
Who is your North East hero?
I have always been inspired by Katy Wheeler, who is an extremely talented journalist for the Sunderland Echo and the North-East press. In my opinion she has really paved the way for women working in the industry and I just love her work.
Finally, Charlotte, what makes you smile?In relation to NEFEMPOWERMENT I would say: meeting new people, helping them, motivating them, encouraging them, and empowering them with an iced latte from Grinder Coffee Co in tow! In my day-to-day life, it’s spending precious time with family and friends, reminiscing on happy memories, listening to my Grandparents’ old stories, and soaking everything in. Life is so easily taken for granted so I try to enjoy the small moments, they mean the most.
Thank you so much for joining me Charlotte, it was fantastic to talk to you!