It was in 2017 when I first heard a snippet about Cutter Brooks. I was assisting Ruth Sleightholme & Andrew Montgomery on what is still one of my top five homes to have featured in House & Garden; the 18th Century home owned by Anthony Watson and Benoit Rauzy (the geniuses behind Atelier Vime). They had just started Atelier Vime Editions and had unveiled the Medici Pedestal & Vase. My heart was all of a flutter. Anthony mentioned that there was a very cool woman setting up a very beautiful shop in the heart of Gloucestershire, one that was going to be their stockist for the UK. I've grown up around those parts, so I was all ears; Stow-on-the-Wold you say? I knew it did a killer hot chocolate with marshmallows and had a good few antique shops, but 'very cool', I wasn't too sure about that. Anyway, I nodded along thinking 'they've got it wrong, but I shan't be rude'. Enter Cutter Brooks - suddenly my local hot chocolate spot seemed to be on everyone's lips, not to mention their Instagrams. I was in the office saying 'Oh yes, I heard about that some time ago', looking at Ruth with daggers in case she let on about my initial disbelief.
One shouldn't be surprised though when you realise who the woman is behind it. Everything I have read about Amanda / listened to (the Architecture Digest Podcast was genuinely a 'must listen' for anyone looking to set up a business in need of a little oomph) shows that she is a hugely determined woman who does not baulk at a challenge. She started her career with an internship with the photographer Patrick Demarchelier after approaching him at a restaurant on the Upper East Side, then went on to a job at the Gagosian Gallery after chatting to Larry Gagosian in a shoe store (She's a braver woman than I). After a few years, she moved over to fashion and in 2011 bagged the prestigious role of fashion director of Barneys New York; not too shabby in the slightest. This led to her deciding she needed a change. A change from the fast-paced New York lifestyle where career is everything and family can slip to second on the totem pole. So in a huge turn of events, Amanda and her husband, artist Christopher Brooks, and their two children Coco & Zach, moved back to Christopher's family farm near Stow, and aren't we pleased they did. Obviously Cutter Brooks wasn't born overnight - it has taken Amanda years to amass the right brands, find the right spot and create the hive of activity it is now. This is why it is so special and attracts people from around the world. I have been in there when people have genuinely gasped when they've entered. I can't wait to go back, but in the meantime, I was pleased as punch that Amanda was willing to answer these inane questions!
Bar Pitti and La Grenouille, both in NYC
What is your favourite day of the week?
Sunday. It's the one day I try not to do any work, and I just potter around the kitchen and garden, often in my pyjamas.
Any good advice? Who gave it to you?
"Mind your manners” from my mother. And “Personal style is accepting who you are” from DVF.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Not at all.
Best Moment in your career so far?
Opening my own shop!
Favourite piece of clothing?
Whatever is newest in my closet. And equally what has been there the longest.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
First an architect (around age 10) and then a photographer (from age 13 - 22)
What would your autobiography be called?
Well, my memoir of my career in the fashion industry was called “Always Pack a Party Dress” and I think that's the closest I’ll ever get to writing an autobiography.
What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
On Golden Pond. I’m such an 80’s kid.
Favourite Holiday Destination?
The Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. I’ve been there every summer (except 2020) since I was 5. Mostly I love hiking, fishing, canoeing, swimming and picnicking, but I also play an hour and a half of tennis every morning with a great group of friends. And it's where I spent the most amount of time with my parents.
Gardenia, but only fresh ones, not the perfume. The flowers remind me of my grandmother and my childhood in Florida. I have a plant in my kitchen right now and the smell takes me right back to being a happy little girl.
A song that can always make your foot tap?
Anything by Stevie Wonder.