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This month we interviewed extraordinary founder Cat Earp of illustrious Shepherds hut haven, Aller Dorset. We spent the morning with Cat at wonderful Aller talking all things pattern, homeware and her top tips for a weekend away in Dorset. Watch the full interview here. 

Tell us about Aller...

We started Aller 2 years ago, originally with two huts and quite quickly put 2 more huts in and recently started a homeware brand. It’s really just a little slice of paradise. 

What’s your favourite thing to do on the weekend?

Ooo I would probably take the children to the beach for a good play. Then go somewhere really yummy for lunch after, like the Hive, Crab House Cafe or the Parlour.

Foolproof Dinner Party Dish?

Something nice and summery at the moment. Burrata salad with pistachios, pomegranate, sumac, nigella seed and then you basically get some orange segments, charr them on the fire and there we go!

What have you treated yourself to this week?

Quite a spoiling week this week, this Rixo dress I’m wearing and some Penelope Chilvers espadrilles.

Where is your happy place?

Dorset, obviously!

You come from a background in luxury PR and London life. How did the huts come about?

So my background yes was in PR but I think I’ve always had an interest in interiors and sort of making the house look nice and taking a lot of pride in my flat in London. I actually used to get my friend Lucy Barlow to help out with the decoration of it. I sort of didn’t have much confidence in a way to do it myself and then came down and here, decided to do the huts and there was no real option other than me to do it myself and you know I just absolutely loved it and the huts are just everything I love, everything I put in there. There is no real inspiration behind them, I work from a colour, start in the kitchen and then with a fabric I love and then build it from there.

What’s your morning ritual?

Slightly changed recently. Always very hectic as we’ve got two young children, but I’ve got very into my running. So I’ll get up early, before the kids wake up. Go for a run about 6.30, have half an hour run, my husband gets them changed, downstairs and having breakfast. I’ll have a quick shower, be down by 7.30 in the car to school and back… then WORK. Or I look after woody which isn’t work, just looking after a toddler!

What does a day of working on Aller look like?

We get a load of email enquiries the whole time and I look after all that side of things. It’s replying to people, whether they want advice of what to book, when to book, getting back to changing a booking or just general enquiries, wanting an image for something. I make all the hampers for the huts, so we offer guest fire-pit suppers and breakfast hampers. Checking they are all ok, we have changeovers every day at the moment so making sure the huts are all ready. I also look after PR and the marketing side of things, making sure we are being seen by people, I look after the instagram. So yep, quite full on! Think maybe we should employ someone else quite soon!

If your guests had two nights at Aller, what would you suggest as the dream way to spend them?

I would arrive here in the afternoon, maybe have booked a fire-it supper, relax, have some cocktails , bottle of rose looking over the lake. Cook your fire-pit supper. Wake up early, have a nice breakfast, get up and go on a day trip. I love exploring so either go to the Newt for the day, or go to coast for a lovely lovely walk and then go for a yummy lunch or even just a really long walk around here finishing up in the local pub. Come back here for a picky supper as you’ll have been out for lunch, outside bath, more cocktails and early bed!

Favourite season?

Summer - I love warmth, the sun, and wearing lovely dresses and I love Aller when it’s looking it’s absolute best.

We love textures, materials, corduroy etc. What fabric are you most drawn to at the moment and why?

I am so drawn to pattern and especially love the Ottolines collection and I also love Fanny Shorter, Molly Mahon, I love a dot and a scallop. But there is also something really luxurious about a corduroy and a velvet.

If your family are down with you, what would you do with them?

At the moment we live up the road from the farm. Bring them to the farm, show them around Aller Dorset, a lovely walk around the rolling hills. A lunch in our local pub. Definitely go to the coast on one of the days. Definitely probably go to the crab house cafe, that’s our go-to if we have anyone to stay. You get the bib, a massive crab, it’s so nice in there and the most delicious food, it’s near the beach. Then home for a nice BBQ in the garden, a bit of tennis maybe use my in-laws pool. We’re very fortunate, so lots to do.

Congratulations on your recent Anthropologie partnership, is there anything coming in the pipeline you can share?

We’ve been so busy since we first launched, just put in two new huts as you probably know. Our house is on the market, we’re moving into the main farmhouse here, doing a big renovation so that will be my focus for the next 6 months I think. But we have so many plans, but I’d love to have a little shop selling my homeware, the granola. Lots of new products coming out including these outdoor cushions. Speaking to a few different brands, but it all has to fit in.

It’s evident you have your ear to the ground on what’s hot right now. What brands are high on your radar? 

Clothing wise, I’m loving Shop Doën - they actually ship straight to the UK now which is so good! I also recently bought a really nice dress from Palm Noosa, Katherine Ormerod suggested it to me. They have great dresses. Homeware… I love Sophie Warbutons company Host home! I love her stuff. I love Edit.58, I love Trove. There are so many. I love an Alice palmer lampshade. All together, I guess, Anthropologie, not just saying this because of the partnership but they do have such an amazing mix of everything. The clothing range, they have just so many amazing brands that I just never knew. The same as the homeware so definitely a place I’m looking at!

What London Velvet piece have you got your eye on at the moment?

Oooo SO much stuff. But I would say definitely the new beach bag in Blue & Brown. I also absolutely have been lusting over the weekenders. Would love the corduroy one, I’ve been hinting to Ant to buy me one but no such luck. I might have to invest myself!

Four fantastic huts. Which one is your favourite?

Kittylands is probably my favourite. Not sure why, feels so cosy and feels it just comes together the best inside. It’s also quite private and enclosed which I really like. But we have just redone Links and Littledown with Anthropologie and actually Littledown is now one of my absolute favourites. The colours, the product we chose from Anthropologie has really zhuzhed it up!


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