Arts University Plymouth student designs interior for Plymouth’s Prom Cellar
Molly Sullivan, a third-year BA (Hons) Interior Design and Styling student at Arts University Plymouth, has helped with the launch of the hugely successful project The Prom Cellar, run by Millfields Trust.
The Prom Cellar is a shop selling prom dresses and suits for school students from Year 11 for just £20, helping students to attend their proms during the cost of living crisis. Run entirely by donations, The Prom Cellar began as a pop-up shop but has now been transformed into a permanent space.
In addition to helping to overcome financial barriers to students participating in a rite of passage, the work of The Prom Cellar also contributes to the reuse of textiles and clothing in the city. It is estimated that from 100-billion garments produced each year, around 92-million tonnes will end up in landfill, with a recent survey by British Wool indicating that more than 70 items of clothing are thrown away every year from the average wardrobe, with almost two-thirds of people admitting to throwing items of clothing into landfill that could be recycled or sent to a charity shop.
Sadie Townsend, of the Millfields Trust, said: “Our Honorary Vice President Cllr Sue McDonald came to the Trust with the concern that many families were at risk of going into debt due to the cost of going to prom. Our charity Millfields Inspired had an idea to ask the generous people in the city to donate any unwanted dresses or suits so that we could offer these for a low price to Year 11 children. The ‘pop-up’ prom shop started back in 2018, but then had a few years off due to the pandemic. Post pandemic, Millfields Inspired still had the dresses and didn’t want the idea to fizzle out, so they came to the Millfields Trust to see if there was anywhere they could use as a permanent home for the dresses. Finally, a really great space was found to give the Prom Cellar a more permanent home - an old cellar in Creykes Court within the Millfields, which explains the name!”
“We initially opened the Prom Cellar during the February half-term and have been delighted with the footfall and sales so far. So many happy students and parents! We are still receiving fresh donations of suits and dresses and this will be an ongoing request going forward to ensure the Prom Cellar is well stocked going forward. We are also asking anyone who purchases a garment to consider cleaning it and returning it to us for the next cohort of Year 11s. We would like the Prom Cellar to be the “go to” place for all Year 11s. The dresses are amazing, many brand new with tags, they are incredibly affordable and it’s great for sustainability.”
Molly working on the interior of The Prom Cellar
Molly, aged 24, said: “I was approached by the Chief Executive of the Millfields Trust to project manage the interior decoration of the shop. The basement was previously used as a cleaning cupboard and I only had a budget of £1000, which meant I had to think outside the box for resources. It was a difficult challenge but one that I was happy to take on, not only to challenge myself, but also because it's for a great cause!”
Molly currently works as a Project Assistant for Marie Hewitt Interiors, specialising in curtains, blinds, fabrics, soft furnishings and wallpapers.
Marie Hewitt said: “Molly has been working for me two days a week for over a year now. She has helped enormously with our social media and helping the customers with choosing fabrics in the studio. The Prom Cellar is Molly’s project and she asked if we could get involved by donating the fabric and labour to make up the changing room curtains and cushions to dress the bench seating.”
“It’s always a pleasure to work with Molly on anything as her positive attitude and enthusiasm is infectious! I think Arts University Plymouth is great, I hear positive comments from Molly all the time about the course, and I always enjoy visiting as it’s a very warm, appreciative welcome.”
Sadie Townsend continued: “We could not have pulled this off without Molly. Molly took the empty space, designed the interior, then with a very small budget, transformed it into a fully functioning shop, complete with spacious changing rooms, full length mirrors, a waiting area for family members and friends, a dress viewing podium and bespoke hanging rails for all the dresses and suits. Molly only had a few weeks to design and deliver the project and did so with the utmost professionalism and within a very tight deadline. Molly will certainly thrive in her chosen career in our view! Molly also enlisted help from sponsors and volunteers and we thank them so much for their generosity of time and materials. Turner and Townsend painted the cellar, and then we had supplies and labour from Paul Rosevear Roofing, Cornerstone Homes (SW) Ltd, Bradfords Building Supplies and Marie Hewitt Interiors.”
Josanne Stewart, Chief Executive of the Millfields Trust, said: “I’m so pleased the word has spread about our Prom Cellar. Helping families and working in a sustainable manner is really important to us.”
Cathryn Bishop, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Interior Design & Styling said, “Molly is a very talented and resourceful student, and we were delighted to see her use that resourcefulness to bring this project to fruition. She’s so enthusiastic and has got thoroughly stuck into not only the design of the space, but getting hands-on practically too. The Prom Cellar is such a great idea for the community, preventing waste items going to landfill and providing local school leavers with affordable outfits for such a special event in their lives. This project really goes to show the power interior design can have on people’s lives. Well done Molly!”
All students at Arts University Plymouth are encouraged to recognise the ways that their creative practice lives within a broader societal context, empowering students to create meaningful impact in the world outside of their studios. Molly Sullivan’s work with The Prom Cellar creates a tangible link between interior design and styling and the drive for a more sustainable future.
You can visit the Prom Cellar at 5 Craigie Drive, The Millfields. All donations are welcome and can be made directly to the Millfields Trust. For details on how to donate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep an eye on the Millfields Trust’s Facebook page and Instagram profile for more information on opening times.