Sue Tuke is wary of journalists. Sitting in the back of a black cab, fresh out of a photoshoot, the manager of Sec*Hand Chances and online sensation better known as Charity Shop Sue begins our interview by regaling a recent encounter with a tabloid hack. “The other week I had a journo come to the shop, from the local rag, asking me questions,” she narrates in her broad Nottingham accent. “Obviously, I’m a woman, so I got the whole, you know, ‘Have you got kids?’ I said no. I don’t want people to think I’ve got kids – if I’m honest, I don’t really like ’em. I’m not a big kid person. Next day, I read in the paper that I was a foster parent to five children!”
After reassuring Sue that Dazed is not a tabloid but a reputable style title, she begins to relax. Still wearing her make-up from the shoot (a hot-pink lip and some glittering eye shadow) and a tracksuit by Rottingdean Bazaar covered in pin-badges, she’s buzzing from the experience. “I just love the attention! I mean, look how much joy you get from working in a charity shop in Nottingham. It’s amazing. It’s very comparable, actually, the feeling and the energy I get from being in front of the camera.” This camera-ready attitude caught the eye of the fashion elite this season, including Rottingdean Bazaar duo Luke Brooks and James Theseus Buck, who promptly invited her to walk in their AW18 show at London Fashion Week Men’s wearing a sweatshirt with a cheeseboard on it.
Here, Sue lifts the lid on life in Bulwell, her career in charity work and a curious incident at Sec*Hand Chances involving a poo.
What’s your name and where do you come from?
Charity Shop Sue: My name’s Sue Tuke, Bulwell, Nottingham.
And what’s your background, career-wise?
Charity Shop Sue: I’ll do the highlights for you, Ted. I know you’re a busy man. A pinch of market trading, a sprinkle of community, and a hell of lot of charity (laughs). That’s me.
How long have you working at Sec*Hand Chances?
Charity Shop Sue: It’s been about five years. I think I might be heading for a promo soon!
Who do you work with?
Charity Shop Sue: Well, I’ve got a number of volunteers. Absolutely fantastic gals, but I won’t pay them.
Do you run a tight ship?
Charity Shop Sue: I do, because when you’ve got people that have got slippery fingers, you’ve got to be very careful.
What’s the most outrageous thing ever to have occurred in your charity shop?
Charity Shop Sue: What we did find one day in the changing room is a soiled pair of pants.
Charity Shop Sue: Yeah. Somebody had been using the changing room as a toilet. Now, the thing is, if the council don’t get more public toilets, you know, in Bulwell, unfortunately, shops like mine Ted, what’s gonna happen, is you gonna get people coming in and using the changing room as a toilet.
Did you find the culprit?
Charity Shop Sue: Well I saw someone running out, they looked a little bit of a mess, ’cos obviously there’s not toilet roll in the changing room, is there? We haven’t got a shower in there, ’cos maybe I would have shouted ‘Oy girl, get back in the shop and go have a shower’, ’cos I’m not having anyone walking around Bulwell looking like that.
It’s not what people wanna see, is it?
Charity Shop Sue: I don’t wanna see it Ted. And it stunk.
What’s your motto?
Charity Shop Sue: You only live once. But you live like you’ll die twice.
Charity Shop Sue: Thanks Ted. Next question.
Are you a good saleswoman?
Charity Shop Sue: Well I’m here, aren’t I? So I’ve obviously bloody sold myself to you (laughs).
Do you have any tips for charity shopping?
Charity Shop Sue: I do. Number one: make sure the clothes have been steamed, ’cos I’ve heard some horror stories… Number two: ask for a bundle offer when buying multiple items! Number three: don’t ask if they've got any more size in the back. We’re a charity shop! Stop wasting our time! We’re trying to raise money for the needy. Not trying to cater for all your fashion needs.
Great. What is your style philosophy?
Charity Shop Sue: Wear what you want, but be prepared to be judged.
And who’s your fashion icon?
Charity Shop Sue: Grace Jones. She’s got a lot of oomph. I love her colour blocking. It’s absolutely fabulous. Obviously I get a lot of my ideas from her old looks, which are fabulous.
Is modelling something you see yourself doing more of?
Charity Shop Sue: Well, you know, I didn’t have myself down as a model Ted, if I’m honest. Having said that, I was really good at posing for pics on the local estate when I was younger. So maybe I’ve just been putting off the inevitable. I’m open to all offers.
This is a bit of a deep question, but what’s your aspiration in life?
Charity Shop Sue: Oh, god. Now I know I probably should be aiming higher than this, but it’s world domination, and defending charity.
Finally, what is your secret?
Charity Shop Sue: A sink full of icy water, and super-soft hairspray.
Charity Shop Sue: Thank you Ted.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Charity Shop Sue: No, just I really loved today, and I just wanna say ‘big hi’ to my girls back in Bulwell, love you all, and I can’t wait to get back to you. And a massive thank you to Rottingdean Bazaar, wearing their stuff makes me feel like a queen!
Hair Shiori Takahashi at Streeters, make up Jessica Taylor using M.A.C, models Steve Brooks, Emma Drake, Stuart Edwards, Albi Gualtieri, Vasilis Kalegias, Selina Mosinski aka Charity Shop Sue, Amy Morgan, photography assistant Vasilis Kalegias, styling assistants Yamine Daaboul, Issy Martin, hair assistant Natsumi Ebiko, casting Danny Reed