Style spotlight: Fashion Re:Boot host Ciara Elliott
Stylist and interiors magazine editor Ciara Elliott is what you might call a creative force for good. When she’s not busy editing the glossy pages of House & Home or pimping her gorgeous Georgian pad in Mistley to perfection, she’s fronting a UK-wide sartorial revolution with the help of fellow north-Essex dweller and fashion journalist, Erica Davies. Ladies, welcome to Fashion Re:Boot.
If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, let me fill you in: this is a fashion car-boot-sale with some seriously stylish trimmings. Think pre-loved, past-season sartorial edits from a network of local stylists, influencers and boutiques. Then add cocktails, a sassy soundtrack and platters of yummy local bites to boot. Dusty farmer fields with a dodgy burger van on the corner? We think not. Regular venues include Manningtree’s eclectic Estuary Wine Bar and Old Spitalfields Market in East London. In short, this is the future of sustainable shopping. And it all started right here in Essex.
Here, we chat life in lockdown, the hotly anticipated return of Fashion Re:Boot and how her unexpected move to Mistley eight years ago has shaped Ciara’s love of Essex independents.
Let’s talk Fashion Re:Boot. How did it all start?
‘It must have been about three or four years ago now, and we held the first ever event in Dedham, which is where I first met Erica [Davies] on the school run! Since then it’s taken on a complete life of its own. It’s crazy, but a huge amount of fun. I remember me and Erica were sitting in my house with a bowl of spaghetti and we were chatting about all the clothes we had and what we should do with them. We obviously live in a time now where we need to start thinking about what we’re buying, and where we’re buying if from, and where we’re putting our money, and so we came up with what’s actually a really simple concept: a fancy car boot that helps fashion junkies like me to shop more sustainably. At first, we just thought it would be a bit of fun and didn’t really see it being rolled out further than Essex, but it gathered momentum really quickly, which is great. There’s zero packaging and the money goes directly back into the community – what could be better than that?’
Running these events while editing an Irish magazine and raising two children sounds full-on…
‘I spin a lot of plates at once, like most mums! Every day is hectic, but I love all the different elements of my job and I get to travel a lot. Pre-lockdown, if I wasn’t shooting someone’s house for the magazine or flying over to Ireland for a meeting, I’d be packing up the car for Fashion Re:Boot or spending time with my husband Ben and the kids, so there’s never a dull moment. Obviously lockdown has paused a lot of that and I’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet, but things are picking back up now and I’m ready be busy again.’
What have you missed during lockdown?
‘I guess I’d have to say going to local galleries and walking round some of the beautiful heritage houses here – that’s something we’ve always loved doing with the kids, so I’ve missed that. But we’ve been on some gorgeous walks to compensate. The seaside’s not far and the River Stour is practically on our doorstep, as well as lots of lovely woodland trails so we’ve been spoilt for choice when it comes to picnic spots. I keep seeing canoeists out on the water, too, so we’ve ordered our own and will be getting out on the river when it finally arrives.’
You lived in Dublin, New York and London before moving out to north Essex. How have you found the shift from city to countryside?
‘We moved out to Mistley in Manningtree eight years ago but it was all a bit unexpected. We’d been living in Brockley in this gorgeous house that we loved, but suddenly the owner needed to sell and we were faced with making a quick decision. Ben’s family lives in Suffolk, so moving to the Essex/Suffolk border made sense because I was editing Wedding magazine in Colchester at the time. I’m such an urban person though, so I found the change of pace hard at first. Now, of course, I love it and I think Manningtree has changed quite a lot in that time, too. More people seem to be waking up to the fact that it’s just an hour from London and you have so much countryside on your doorstep. Being near a train station and a town was important to me though, so we’re not in the middle of nowhere: we can walk to the pub, and the pizzeria, and the train station. It works for me and I’ve gotten to know so many great local independents here as a result.’
Where do you like shopping locally?
‘I’m a massive fan of The Wholefood Store in Manningtree high street and we go to Lucca Enoteca pizzeria with the kids every Friday – they love it there and they’ve really missed going during lockdown. For wine and candles and little bits of lovely homeware, The Mistley Kitchen is nice. I also love Amy’s Buds the Flower Shop in Harwich; Seven South Street for a coffee and croissant; and Winyl or Estuary Wine Bar for local drinks. The Red Lion and nearby Sun Inn in Dedham are both great local boozers, and I sometimes head to Milsoms Hotel for a work meeting, too.’
So what’s next for Fashion Re:Boot?
‘Now that we’re out of lockdown, we’ve got our first event lined up at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich on 25 September, with events to follow in Old Spitalfields Market and Richmond. Obviously it’s all going to be outside in marquees and more spaced out than usual. We’ll be stringently adhering to all the guidelines, but it’s essentially the same format: around 30-40 cool ladies selling pre-owned or vintage clothing. Sometimes boutiques will come to sell ex-stock, too, but it’s very much a sustainable shopping experience where we all have a bit of fun and enjoy the buzz. To be honest, that’s one of the things I love most about it – that it brings people together. I have ambitions to scale it up and I think it will happen eventually. But, for now, I’m just desperate to get a group of creative women together again with a few cocktails. That’s what makes me happy.’