One look at the historic 17th-century building in bucolic Stow-on-the-Wold and Amanda Cutter Brooks was sold. “It seemed like a complete money pit, but I loved it,” says the former fashion director of Barneys New York, who lives with her artist husband and two children on nearby Fairgreen Farm. “It took a year to bring the space back to its original form.” The self-described American Anglophile has paired the weathered-oak beams with soft-pink walls to lend it a “feminine feel, but not too girly”.
Since May last year, Cutter Brooks’ eponymous eclectic boutique has enticed a mix of locals, weekenders from Soho Farmhouse and tourists from further afield – primarily Asians and Americans – with its curated clothing and housewares. “I embrace the English countryside style and craftsmanship,” says Cutter Brooks, highlighting the delicate fabric flowers (£100-£350) made exclusively for the shop by her neighbour Silka Rittson-Thomas and the traditional basketry (£100-£300) by Jenny Crisp, who has been growing and weaving her own willow in Herefordshire for over 30 years. “But I also incorporate things from my travels,” she adds, noting a selection of decorative items that includes Indian hand-block-printed napkins (£40 for six) and sisal placemats (£25 each), made by a group of women in Swaziland, as well as découpage trays (£124) by fellow American John Derian – “an old friend whose work somehow feels very English, and is a huge seller for us”.
There’s a strong New York component to Cutter Brooks’ fashion buys, too, with the flowing designs by Ulla Johnson (tiered Claribel dress, £415) and LoveShackFancy (embroidered cotton dress, £520) offset by Khaite’s more tailored pieces (tweedy walking shorts, £620) – and all bought in very limited quantities. “My customers appreciate I stock things you won’t find easily elsewhere,” says Cutter Brooks, whose closer-to-home buys range from The Tweed Project – “two Irish girls from Galway I discovered on Instagram” creating summery linen petticoat dresses (£380) and cropped, fringed Aran sweaters (£650) – to Florentine nightwear specialist Loretta Caponi, whose cotton voile “granny nighties” (£350) in pastel shades are “old-school, smocked and very Shakespeare in Love”. Cheerful accessories run from chic canvas tool bags (£495) by Paris label L/Uniform – hand-stamped with monograms by Cutter Brooks – and hair ties (£60-£150) repurposed from Hermès, Liberty and Gucci scarves by Copenhagen’s Line Sander Johansen.
“At first, I think a lot of locals were sceptical about this project,” says Cutter Brooks, whose most precious pieces are the limited edition porcelain blackberry branch sculptures (£2,800-£7,900) by Ukraine-born artist Vladimir Kanevsky. “I’ve certainly made a few mistakes – selling resort fashion in December in the English countryside was pretty much a bust – but I think we’ve found our place now. When people visit and say, ‘It’s so warm and cosy here – and the coffee is great,’ I know I’m doing something right.”