This month we are chatting to Melanie from Curate & Rotate, a platform selling the most beautiful, carefully curated second hand pieces.
Second hand’ or pre loved has often had a bad reputation (I’m thinking dodgy dress agencies with snooty owners selling Fiourucci, ) but Melanie does it in such a unique and inspiring way, it’s so chic and she has developed a whole lifestyle / community around her business.. Curate & Rotate is much more than the clothes, everything is so considered and it shows she has a real passion for what she’s built and I love that.
There are so many excellent sustainable brands now, when I worked in the fashion industry in my 20’s there must have only been a handful and they were kind of looked down upon, now it’s become very popular, what are your favourite sustainable brands?
Ah this is a very hard question as there are so many incredible brands to choose from, and since starting C&R I am discovering new ones all the time. I absolutely love Louisa Charlotte Oates, a designer and maker based in Brighton – every single piece I fall for, and our customers do too. Her work is like art - just so beautiful. I just love what Amy Powney is doing with Mother of Pearl. MOP is committed to complete traceability across its supply chains, sourcing sustainable fibres like organic wool, organic cotton and TENCEL for its collections. The pieces are great and just make you feel incredible. I also adore Melissa Munro - Melissa the founder upcycles unloved mens shirts and blazers and turns them into something special. Other brands I love are E.L.V denim, Ren London & Studio Wylder but I could go on and on.
I enjoy wearing pieces that I can throw on that feel good, natural fabrics and interesting cuts appeal to me...Since having children it’s still very much about style but also comfort plays a big part. Have you found that your style has changed since becoming a mother?
Totally, my style has become more effortless and less thought out and not led by what’s in fashion. I now buy better pieces that will last and are timeless. I used to own lots of dressier pieces that I would wear on nights out, but it’s safe to say I don’t have too many of those now aha – I would rather wear my regular pieces and dress the outfit up with a pair of heels. I think my style has got better, I dress more for myself and play around a little more.
I’d love to take a peek inside your wardrobe. What are your most cherished secondhand pieces and why?
Thank you so much, it is smaller than most people would expect. Many of my pieces move around and head into rotation when I feel I am not wearing them enough. My most cherished are both pairs of my row shoes, one pair is a chunky sandal that go with everything in the warmer months ,and the other pair are the backless leather sabot mules. I’m in love with them both and will own them a long time (I can’t believe I finally have some items by the Row) I love them because they just pull together all my outfits and make me feel good. Clothing wise it would have to be my Khaite winter coat it’s just perfection, the shape, the quality, it’s just timeless – I think I will have it forever and hopefully pass it down to my daughter.
I love your pre loved Ligne Roset Togo sofa in your studio, does your love of second hand move in to your interiors too? If so what are your favourite pre loved pieces in your home..?
Oh yes, I love our Togo! It was the first item I purchased when I signed the lease for the studio, it is SO comfy. My home is quite minimal in terms of pieces but we do try and source pre-loved first. My favourite pieces are our dining table, we picked this up second hand from a clothing store in Brighton who no longer had use for it, and obviously we use it A LOT. I also love our second hand vases and trinkets we have picked up from charity shops and vintage markets. I actually I wish I had more time to focus on buying cute pre-loved pieces for our home as it is so enjoyable.
You mentioned a while ago on instagram that you are from a working class background, I too set up my business with no financial help from my parents and have had to find a path without any financial backing from my family, I’m interested to know how you have found this journey? Personally I find it so rewarding knowing I’ve built this on my own without the easy option of asking my parents for help, it’s made me work harder and develop a thick skin. But it has also been very tough at times too.
Yes you’re right, I grew up in Thanet, Kent in a working class family on an estate. I was always very aware growing up that we didn’t have much money, but I guess the benefits of this now is that as a business owner I am very mindful on how I spend money within the business to allow it to grow. This can mean it can take me a while to make a decision but when you have a start-up business you need to be tactful of where you spend the money you have. My family have never been in a position to help me out financially, and I have always known that and of course, that’s ok – this has always pushed me to succeed in life because if I want something I have to work to get there myself. It has been hard but I guess I am proud of where I am so far in life (although I’m still aiming higher) I think it’s fair to say I have struggled a lot with self-doubt, I often have moments where I don’t believe in myself, I worry I am not talented enough because of where I am from, or my education BUT I have an innate drive to show that with hard work, determination, focus and passion you can achieve anything you set your mind too – it doesn’t matter where you are from.
I am proud where I am from and my background, it has shaped me and made me a better business owner. If Curate & Rotate was very successful I would love to do talks with schoolchildren from my background to try and inspire them to start a business and tell them that they can.
This is a random one but your skin always looks so beautiful, what skincare products do you use? Do you try to use sustainable skincare brands?
Ah thank you so much, I was once a face wipe only girl before having my daughter but I now realise that just won’t cut it. I have quite a basic routine, I am not that experienced with skincare, although I would love to learn more about it. I absolutely love the sustainable brand Haeckels – and just like me their products come from Margate. I also love Weleda moisturiser & Paulas Choice exfoliator. My skin can have its ups and downs, I don’t wear much make up – I can go days not wearing any at all and I think this does wonders and my skin can breathe.
And finally who’s style do you admire and why?
This is a tough one! I would say I take most of my style inspo from all sources not just one person I take little bits of inspiration from many people. People on Instagram, the streets, magazines, television, film and especially trips abroad. I am desperate to visit Japan again just for the fashion inspo. One day, I dream!
What’s next for Curate & Rotate?
I have some plans I am trying to get going with, I have really been thinking about where I want Curate & Rotate to go, and what I want it to be. Curate & Rotate was born from a hobby and I have worked so hard to create a business from it. Let’s just say watch this space and see, but I will try my hardest to make my dreams and vision for C&R come true – and if this means putting myself out of my comfort zone over and over – and I am up for this.
Melanie's rotations go live at 8pm every Sunday.