She goes on, “I’m very much a neutral colours person – people comment on that.” And she is right: the row of hanging clothes is a sea of neutrality – black, white, cream, grey, ecru – and midweight fabrics. Like the cropped, wide-leg beige trousers she is wearing today with a soft tie-collar shirt, an ensemble she spotted in the Bath TOAST shop window and liked because it had “something safari about it”. Feeling herself in her clothes is important to Susan, whatever the occasion. She wore a TOAST piece to her daughter Holly’s wedding two winters ago, a sleeveless velvet cocktail dress that was “neutral enough but with a golden sheen”, determined that it would not only be something she’d wear more than once, but representative of her everyday style: “I didn’t want to look different just because it was my daughter’s wedding. I wanted people to recognize me, to be my true self.”
Susan left school wanting to study history of art and Italian, but for one reason or another felt shoe-horned into an economics degree. Though this didn’t feel like – to use Susan’s words – her true self, she has always managed to find a ways to fulfil her creative interests. After university, she started working at Alistair’s practice and when they had their first child, Neil, she turned her attention to nurseries – not just a nursery for Neil himself, but a nursery system to make returning to work easier for mothers, with spaces that felt tailored to children. To this end, she set up Nursery Works, a company that designed nurseries “from the floor”, with an emphasis on how little people experience the world – such as low-down heating and viewing panels in doors, consistent surfaces and flooring without thresholds, plenty of natural light and open plan rooms so that children of all ages mix and learn from one another. Nursery Works was supported by businesses who employed the very people that needed their services, funding that enabled the high level of care that Susan wanted for her own children, and subsidising the fees for working mothers.