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In Conversation with Ellen Brookes | Sideline

I first met Ellen in 2017 when we hosted her pop-up in Bruton. Back then the shop was in the front of my house and I was pregnant with my first baby much to my frustration at the time because I couldn't try on any of the clothes! It was after this pop-up that I began stocking Sideline Womenswear as the first fashion to be stocked at Caro. Ellen is an incredible woman managing a family in Lewes, a full-time design job and Sideline - the name came about because it's just that, a sideline to her other work! 

Her clothes are born from thoughtful design and understated details. Her background in casual-wear design and trend consultancy mean she is an expert in designing clothes that last and have integrity. Committed to reducing our impact on the earth and moving away from fast fashion, all packaging is marine safe, 100% water soluble and without single use plastic. We love Ellen’s ability to design for the woman that is softly confident and effortlessly stylish.

 sideline-clothing.com

What does a typical day look like for you?

 I don’t actually have a typical day. My schedule changes depending on what part of the season I’m working on – there are days where I might be meeting one of my manufacturers or selecting fabrics for my next season but then there are days when I will be spending all day sending invoices. 

 Today started with an early morning run on the South Downs with some friends which is always the best way to begin the day. Then into the studio to send out design packs to my Scottish knitters who I met with yesterday in London.  I ate lunch outside my studio in the midday sun. This afternoon I will go through emails and continue with designing AW22.  I am usually in my studio from about 9am-5 or 6pm when I then go home to cook for my kids and have some family time. 

 Where is your dream escape destination?

 Can I only have one? I have so many places that I love and even more on my wish list… 

 A couple of summers ago (before the pandemic) my family and I spent the summer travelling around Scandinavia on foot with our dog… I really fell in love with Norway and found the pace of life there so relaxing.  The water is really special there, I am not a cold-water fan, but those beautiful fjords were a real draw.  I’d love to go back and explore further north.

 I also got to travel around New Mexico a bit a couple of years ago and am dying to go back with my husband and kids to explore some more - the landscape is really incredible and Georgia O’Keefes home was one of the most inspiring places I have ever visited. My friend and I were both moved to tears because we felt so lucky to be there.

 And I can’t not mention Japan here, I’ve visited a few times but my kids are obsessed by Japanese culture so I really want to take them one day.

 What is your vice?

 Chocolate.

 What are you listening to at the moment?

 I listen to a lot of podcasts as I mostly work on my own - Adam Buxton is always fun and an easy listen, I generally like the people he chooses to interview and the conversations are often thought provoking but also very funny. I also really like Ear Hustle which is a podcast based out of San Quentin prison - each episode deals with a different element of prison life – it can be hard listening but generally it’s very life-affirming.

 Music-wise I’m a big fan of beautiful melancholic voices like Benjamin Clementine, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. I also love listening to female artists such as PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding and Cat Power. On the other end of the scale, I love a bit of cheesy pop music and 90s britpop (my era :))

 What’s your favourite thing to eat?

 Again, I can’t pick just one because I LOVE FOOD! Japanese, Korean (specifically kimchi), Peruvian and Mexican, Middle Eastern, good authentic Indian food, and chocolate. I’m pretty fussy about food, if I am going to eat I want it to be good – it drives my husband crazy as I am always on a mission to find the best place (and if it’s a picnic, the best spot with the best view).

 What are you most curious about? 

Anything I don’t understand but mostly people – how people live their lives, what interests them, what makes them tick…

What’s the most memorable piece of advice you’ve received? 

Don’t worry, be happy!

Caro Items….

 I love Aesop and in particular the Geranium Leaf Body Scrub.

I also love scented candles, they feel like a real indulgence and treat - The Aerende candle

These fishing baskets are really beautiful, I have them on my Christmas list…. 

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I first met Ellen in 2017 when we hosted her pop-up in Bruton. Back then the shop was in the front of my house and I was pregnant with my first baby much to my frustration at the time because I couldn't try on any of the clothes! It was after this pop-up that I began stocking Sideline Womenswear as the first fashion to be stocked at Caro. Ellen is an incredible woman managing a family in Lewes, a full-time design job and Sideline - the name came about because it's just that, a sideline to her other work! 

Her clothes are born from thoughtful design and understated details. Her background in casual-wear design and trend consultancy mean she is an expert in designing clothes that last and have integrity. Committed to reducing our impact on the earth and moving away from fast fashion, all packaging is marine safe, 100% water soluble and without single use plastic. We love Ellen’s ability to design for the woman that is softly confident and effortlessly stylish.

 sideline-clothing.com

What does a typical day look like for you?

 I don’t actually have a typical day. My schedule changes depending on what part of the season I’m working on – there are days where I might be meeting one of my manufacturers or selecting fabrics for my next season but then there are days when I will be spending all day sending invoices. 

 Today started with an early morning run on the South Downs with some friends which is always the best way to begin the day. Then into the studio to send out design packs to my Scottish knitters who I met with yesterday in London.  I ate lunch outside my studio in the midday sun. This afternoon I will go through emails and continue with designing AW22.  I am usually in my studio from about 9am-5 or 6pm when I then go home to cook for my kids and have some family time. 

 Where is your dream escape destination?

 Can I only have one? I have so many places that I love and even more on my wish list… 

 A couple of summers ago (before the pandemic) my family and I spent the summer travelling around Scandinavia on foot with our dog… I really fell in love with Norway and found the pace of life there so relaxing.  The water is really special there, I am not a cold-water fan, but those beautiful fjords were a real draw.  I’d love to go back and explore further north.

 I also got to travel around New Mexico a bit a couple of years ago and am dying to go back with my husband and kids to explore some more - the landscape is really incredible and Georgia O’Keefes home was one of the most inspiring places I have ever visited. My friend and I were both moved to tears because we felt so lucky to be there.

 And I can’t not mention Japan here, I’ve visited a few times but my kids are obsessed by Japanese culture so I really want to take them one day.

 What is your vice?

 Chocolate.

 What are you listening to at the moment?

 I listen to a lot of podcasts as I mostly work on my own - Adam Buxton is always fun and an easy listen, I generally like the people he chooses to interview and the conversations are often thought provoking but also very funny. I also really like Ear Hustle which is a podcast based out of San Quentin prison - each episode deals with a different element of prison life – it can be hard listening but generally it’s very life-affirming.

 Music-wise I’m a big fan of beautiful melancholic voices like Benjamin Clementine, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. I also love listening to female artists such as PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding and Cat Power. On the other end of the scale, I love a bit of cheesy pop music and 90s britpop (my era :))

 What’s your favourite thing to eat?

 Again, I can’t pick just one because I LOVE FOOD! Japanese, Korean (specifically kimchi), Peruvian and Mexican, Middle Eastern, good authentic Indian food, and chocolate. I’m pretty fussy about food, if I am going to eat I want it to be good – it drives my husband crazy as I am always on a mission to find the best place (and if it’s a picnic, the best spot with the best view).

 What are you most curious about? 

Anything I don’t understand but mostly people – how people live their lives, what interests them, what makes them tick…

What’s the most memorable piece of advice you’ve received? 

Don’t worry, be happy!

Caro Items….

 I love Aesop and in particular the Geranium Leaf Body Scrub.

I also love scented candles, they feel like a real indulgence and treat - The Aerende candle

These fishing baskets are really beautiful, I have them on my Christmas list…. 

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