After she gave up her dreams of being a flight attendant at age three, Charlotte Strick knew she wanted a career in fashion design—her mom had been a fashion designer in London, and Strick vividly recalls watching a piece take shape back home. “She could just fearlessly work with fabric, take something that was flat and turn it into a 3D object,” Strick says. “I was just wowed by her.”
At home Strick designed her own fashion magazines and logos for fictive fashion lines. And she did it all using materials supplied by her dad, who owned an artist’s supply business and a small publishing firm—causing the young Strick to brush shoulders with the likes of Hermann Zapf when she was growing up.
After college, she worked as an assistant to a costume designer in Los Angeles, and then came back to her hometown of New York City, where she landed a job at Elie Tahari. That’s where she watched a designer work on the Theory logo.
“I was observing from a distance. I was jealous. I was really envious of her getting to do that work. I think I just had this nagging feeling—I was wearing the wrong shoes,” she says. “Ultimately, [fashion] wasn’t the right fit and I like to joke now that I started wanting to design jackets for women and ended up designing jackets for books.”
Then, while she was contemplating what to do with her life over dinner at a restaurant one evening, her server gave her a fortune cookie at the end of the meal. It read: Art is your fate. Don’t debate.
Strick went to Parsons, and from there to a job at Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG), where she spent a decade under Susan Mitchell, followed by four years working with Rodrigo Corral.
“I discovered that I absolutely loved reading a story and thinking about what the essence of each book was… What makes each book singular, and recognizing the tone that a particular author brings to a page is really fascinating to me.”
Strick says she was deeply nested at FSG, and there was only one person who could have convinced her to leave: Claire Williams Martinez. The two had met on orientation day at Parsons (“I thank my lucky stars that we’re both at the end of the alphabet,” Strick says), and from virtually their first class together they talked about how one day they would launch a joint firm. And in 2014, Strick&Williams was born.
“I’m really glad I took the chance to give up the fashion designer dream,” she says. “I still love clothes and I still really love fabric and I love patterns. I think all of that works its way into whatever I’m playing around with.”
Here are five covers spanning Strick’s days at FSG to her current work at Strick&Williams.