3 Tastemakers Talk Business

The ritual of choosing pieces to populate our homes and wardrobes is AS COMPLEX AS IT IS SATISFYING. Meet three women whose own impeccable taste influences what we buy and how we dress, WHETHER WE REALISE IT OR NOT

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1. THE COOL HUNTER: CIARA FLOOD
Formerly of Net-a-Porter and Selfridges, Ciara Flood is Retail Director at Makers & Brothers

My parents travelled extensively when I was a child – I grew up in Baghdad and spent summers in Asia – so I’ve always thought of the world as accessible. I love watching how people dress in different cities, and find the cultural influences which drive that really fascinating.

I learned a lot from Natalie Massenet at Net-a-Porter: she’s a passionate leader with a global mindset. Although Makers & Brothers is currently based in Ireland, we’re not exclusively targeting an Irish market. Some of our biggest orders come from New York, LA, London and Berlin so I buy with a global perspective.

I follow fashion editors and influencers on Instagram to see inside their homes and find out where they’re holidaying. It’s the new people-watching. Leandra Medine from Man Repeller stayed at Posada Margherita in Mexico recently so my sister and I went there to check it out. It’s very cool.

Irish craft is integral to our business but we want to layer that with more international design. Quality is paramount – the first thing my mum always asks is, “What is it made from?” If a piece is chosen well, and the material is great, it will never go out of style.

We do an experiential retail event at The Standard in New York every summer so my husband Jonathan [Legge, co-founder, Makers & Brothers with his brother, Mark] and I are going to move out there for a year in July. What happened online for fashion ten years ago is now happening for homewares, so my eye is definitely on the US. It makes sense for us to focus on this sizeable market.

Where I shop really depends on the calibre of the buyers. I’m currently lusting after a Rosie Assoulin off-the-shoulder top – expensive but worth it. SB

www.makersandbrothers.com

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2. THE TRENDSETTER: SARAH GILL
Sarah Gill owns Seagreen, the chic boutique with locations in Ranelagh and Monkstown

I used to work in the telecommunications industry which involved a lot of travel. As a bonafide shopaholic, the choice of concept stores in Miami and New York really excited me. I love that feeling of a “find,” so I took a chance and opened Seagreen in 2006.

J Brand was one of the first labels I bought, just before the denim explosion. Did I anticipate that happening? Definitely not, but I knew I just had to have those jeans. It’s not the most commercial model in the world but there’s genuine love behind every item I buy.

We are celebrating ten years in business this year and the store has certainly evolved. We stock beautiful stationery and candles too – something at every price point. No boutique can be all things to all people and the recession taught us all the value of multiple wears. There are no more one hit wonders.

I personally like shopping in independent stores that have a good mix of fashion, beauty and interiors. Matches in London, 10 Corso Como in Milan and Montaigne Market in Paris are all favourites, although I’m almost as happy in a Spanish pharmacy. I’m always looking for new things.

Constant research and bringing in new lines is vital to Seagreen’s success. Our customers want things fast. If I like something I don’t wait until next season – I get it immediately. And I don’t believe in saving things for a special occasion, whether clothes or china or fragrance. Life is just too short. SB

Seagreen, 45 Ranelagh Village, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 and 6a The Crescent, Monkstown, Co Dublin.

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3. THE VISIONARY: AMANDA PRATT
After 28 years at Avoca, overseeing Restoration Yard in Scotland is Amanda Pratt’s latest project

Shortly after I left Avoca I was approached by Richard and Damian Scott [the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensbury and one of the largest landowners in Europe] to transform the stableyard at Dalkeith Country Park in Edinburgh into a retail space, holistic wellness centre, café and playground. I initially declined – I felt it was too soon to tie myself to anything – but they very kindly convinced me. I began to create a brand for them, designing product of all sorts and finding more to sell
as well.

Having unbridled access to their vast family archive has been inspiring, as is creating the wellness centre – the concept is so new and exciting. Restoration Yard will be a place to restore yourself, and it’s restored my faith in myself. When I asked my dad for advice he told me that my obligation was to create jobs if I could, just like he did with Avoca in 1974. So even though the space is in Scotland, my team and office are here in Dublin.

I challenge myself to find beautiful and interesting things everywhere I go; they bring me little bursts of joy. The environment we create definitely has an effect on our spirit and I’ve always said that I’d rather sit in a beautiful room than a comfortable one. I’m visually obsessive; maybe that’s why I fall in love with one sweater and then buy six more?

Chain stores start to feel like machines, particularly when you work in the fashion industry. I love going to vintage shops and buying slightly nutty things, and Merci in Paris is always cool. My wardrobe is almost exclusively black, and yet my home is very colourful; my shoe collection is a mixed oddity.

I feel inspired going to trade shows. They’re tiring, but you meet the people behind the products, and hear their stories. Stories are what matter to us, and they’re what we hold on to and feast on in our quiet moments. I’ve learned that I’m definitely happiest when I’m working and when Restoration Yard opens this July, I hope that people love it. 

Images by Doreen Kilfeather

Makeup by Anna O’Callaghan annaocallaghan@gmail.com

This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this, don’t miss our May issue, out Thursday May 5.

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