“I think by implication you can see that some of it was really awful,” she says.Her business turned over £11 million last year, but for all her success Bridgewater, whose childhood heroine was Laura Ashley, and who is good friends with fellow middle-class tastemakers Kidston and Johnnie Boden, insists she never planned to be a working mother, running a business empire in her fifties.“I was lucky that I was the oldest,” Bridgewater says.
“We’d just carelessly had four children,” she says.
“I had to get back into the saddle or else the roof would have fallen in.” In hindsight, though, she wonders if she’d have taken the business so seriously if it wasn’t for Charlotte’s accident.
“I think we’d all have been a bit more restful if she hadn’t had her accident.” When Bridgewater, who read English at the University of London, began experimenting with sponge-painted ceramics in the bedroom of a former squat in Brixton, her grand plan was to build up a business for a few years and flog it, rather like Tie Rack and Sock Shop.
She called her company Bridgewater Pottery, which gave the impression it had been around for ages with no hint of the inexperienced 25-year-old behind its cheery polka-dot patterns.
Her company, she realised, was based on Charlotte’s personality and way of living, not her own.