Sally Emslie, founder of Manifesto Woman

Hello & welcome to the tenth edition of What Goes Around, Comes Around. This is our love letter to people, ideas, and things contributing to the betterment of the world.

Today we are chatting with the founder of Manifesto Woman, Sally Emslie.

Quick Caveat — Manifesto Woman is my all-time fav online re-seller store. Without a doubt, it is always full of really wearable unique gems. She has access to some amazing women’s wardrobes, which then, in turn, you can buy — keeping these amazing clothes in circulation and well loved. She has a mixture of vintage, high street, and some high-end brands all mixed up together in a very modern edit. She’s hot on quality standards (as I know first hand when I’ve attempted to send her things that were a little well-worn), so when you buy from her you can be rest assured the item will be as good as new.

Hello Sally! So tell us where you are isolating & who are you isolating with?

I have been at home with my husband and children in the Suffolk countryside for the duration. Living in the middle of nowhere has been such a privilege — we have vast green spaces all around us, so haven’t felt too ‘contained’.

What is outside your window at the moment? Your ‘isolation view’?

Thankfully it incorporates a lot of green; it’s keeping me sane!

What has been the most difficult part of this period for you?

Well, our household has two children and two businesses, so the juggle has been real. But, besides that, I think the uncertainty of it all has been the biggest challenge. Our planning permission for major restoration work to our property (a grand old crumbling Georgian dame) came through just before lockdown, so we have had to pause all our plans without really knowing when we’ll be able to do the work — both from a timings perspective as well as financially. My husband’s business has also been very shaky, which brings its own financial stresses. But, honestly, we are incredibly fortunate — we have a house, we have our health, we have food. So many people are struggling right now — my focus is genuinely not on myself.

What has been the surprise joy of this period?

Vast tracts of unstructured time with my husband and children — we have become so close as a family unit. I’ll cherish this time we’ve had forever. We have spent hours and hours hiking in our local countryside and making all sorts of wonderful discoveries, including a swimmable dam five minutes from our house

Has work changed for you during this time, if so, how?

Being an online business it has, if anything, got busier. I was worried that people would entirely forget about sustainability given all the other concerns but thankfully that doesn’t seem to have been the case.

You pivoted Manifesto mission a little after COVID, asking people to donate their individual wardrobes to raise money for Trussell Trust. How has this been?

The response to The Trussell Trust sales has been incredible. I have the most amazing customer base — warm, kind, generous individuals who really do care about others. I was so worried that the charity sales would be an abject flop or, worse, that people would think it was just a PR stunt, but it’s been quite the opposite. I’m confident we’ll hit out £10,000 donation target.

Our reliance on virtual connection is more than ever right now — as an online business, have you seen any changes in the way people are connecting and reaching out?

I think we are all glued to our phones 24/7 at the moment so yes, there is more hyper-connectivity for sure. But, interestingly, I think people are also being far more patient. Typically if I don’t respond to somebody within an hour (at any time of day/ night) they chase me. Whereas now people are giving me much more space.

What is the first thing you are going to do when lockdown finishes?

I plan to eat every single meal in a restaurant for at least the first week; if not for the rest of my life :-). No cooking, no dishwashing, no serving and clearing. Utter bliss!

This is a great opportunity for us to expand our knowledge of great people doing great things out there — Are there any people you want to shout about — designers, makers, or doers that we should know about?

So many sources of inspiration right now! If I had to pick my top five (which is very, very hard), I’d say:

@and.bloom — Denise Boomkens champions and celebrates older feminine beauty. Her work feels genuinely revolutionary, despite the fact that ‘all’ she is doing is photographing older women in a non-apologetic way

@pennywincer — a photographer and writer who talks in an incredibly open, thorough and accessible way about raising her autistic son. It’s been such an education for me and I now have at least some understanding of the battles (and victories!) parents of neuro-diverse children face

@twistedvintagejewellery — Brigitte recycles vintage jewellery into beautiful, unique modern pieces

@sophieandcoshop — Sophie refashions your old clothes into fresh ‘new’ clothes for your children

@town.and.concrete — an installation artist who creates the most beautiful and immersive structures.

Actually, I’m sneaking in a slightly left-field sixth one — the ‘Fortunately’ podcast with Fi Glover and Jane Garvey. I laugh ’til I cry — joyful, sharp and insightful. The perfect antidote to these frankly bizarre times.

Sally set the ambition to raise 10,000 to help Trussel Trust who support over 1,200 food banks across the UK. There seems to be no end in sight for the need of food banks, with an increase year on year last year of 19%, and an increase since the pandemic of over 39%.

Our contribution went live last week, but you can still find some awesome finds here at @Manifestowoman.

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