Alumni Chloe Shearing and Harriet Maxwell on their new business Closet & Botts


When did you attend at Bede’s and which house were you in?

We attended Bede’s from 1998 to 2001, and were both in Deis.

Tell us about your business and what you are doing now?

We run a shop in Lewes called Closet & Botts, selling a combination of new, old and handmade homeware, furniture and clothes.

How did your experiences at Bede’s help get you where you are today?

Bede’s was an amazing school. There wasn’t any particular emphasis on one thing, such as academics or sport – importance was placed equally on all subjects and activities.

We were encouraged to do what we enjoyed, allowing us to build our confidence in those areas.

We were both creative and spent a lot of time in the art rooms, which laid the foundations for both our friendship and our business.

What qualifications did you need to get you where you are today?

We didn’t need any specific qualifications to open the shop, but our degrees in Fine Art and Textiles have helped us enormously in creating the aesthetic of the business.

If you could start Bede’s over again what would you do differently?

We would pay more attention in Maths!

What are your best memories of Bede’s?

Spending lots of time in the art rooms, and lovely summers by the lake.

Who were your favourite teachers at Bede’s?

Mr Andrews, Mr Graham and Mr Hammond!

What advice would you give a student who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t feel pressure to go down a conven­tional route – if you love what you do, then it doesn’t feel like work.

What motivates you?

We have exactly the same taste, and had a vision for the shop long before we opened it. I think working towards realising that vision is what motivates us.

What is your greatest weakness?

We are both creative, but the business side of things doesn’t come so naturally.

What have been your biggest challenges you have faced setting up your own busi­ness?

Following on from the last question, I think firstly learning our trade, and secondly getting our heads around how to run a business has been very challenging, but also incredibly rewarding.

In your life to date, what accomplishment are you most proud of?

Definitely opening the shop!

If you could accomplish any one goal, what goal would it be? Why?

Our next goal is to design a range of homeware by Closet & Botts. Although we find all kinds of treasures to sell in the shop, it would be amazing to have them alongside our own line.

Market France