AN INTERVIEW WITH RACHEL

Tell us about your background

My career began as a Nursery Nurse. A large part of my role was planning activities for the children.  This included all the craft activities that, I believe are so important for children’s development. Through this my creativity was really honed. I had always loved making things and ‘playing’ with bits of fabric, but when I started work this naturally developed. I thoroughly enjoyed being responsible for all the displays in the nursery and really let my imagination run free! As my career developed, I moved away from the hands-on work with children but still continued to craft as a hobby. It feels right that I have, in a way, retuned to my roots. I am now re-using my creativity to make things again and although in very different circumstances, I still hope that I can create some sparks of magic along the way.

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

There isn’t one specific place but I do find a lot of inspiration when we are visiting North Norfolk and Suffolk. I am drawn to the big skies, the sea and the colours of the coast. Both areas are very special to us and we visit as much as possible. When there I feel a sense of calmness which I think helps fuel my inspiration. I was born and bred in South Yorkshire and the industrial heritage that surrounds us is also inspirational for my work. I love the architecture of our past and again often find inspiration when observing the now, mostly, derelict buildings. The natural environment is important to me, especially the colours that are so generously shared by nature.

Why is it important for you to create things that are environmentally friendly?

I am concerned that we have become, on the whole, a throw away society. I was brought up in the 60s and 70s where the ‘make do and mend’ philosophy was still prominent. Today it is too easy to buy things that are disposable – there is often the mindset that buying cheap and then throwing away is acceptable. But for me it isn’t; I think we are on a dangerous path that is not good for the environment.  I would always rather pay more for a quality product, something that is going to last, than the cheaper alternative that will very quickly head to landfill. Therefore, it is important to me that the things I make have sustainability. Where possible, I try to design things that will have a second life. For example, the lavender cards are not only greeting cards but they are also perfect for placing in a drawer to help keep clothes smelling fresh and to keep moths at bay.

What is your style?

It is difficult to describe my style. I like to think that I am eclectic in my work and much depends on how the prints ‘speak’ to me. I often print fabric without necessarily having a definite plan in mind. I think this can add to the organic nature of my work. I do work with signature colours which influence how I print and how I ‘see’ my work. What is important for me is that people who own my work enjoy it and find something very pleasing about the narratives to the back-story. I hope in some small way my work makes people smile and for a brief period be transported into a place of calm and happiness. We are currently living in a world where stress and worry seems to predominate. If the little boats can make someone smile and remember happy times by the sea, then I will be happy.

How does your previous career fit with this new role?

I have always worked with people in socially oriented roles. As I mentioned above, I started my career as a Nursery Nurse where craft and being creative were pivotal with the care given to the children and their families. As my career developed and I moved into a managerial role there were still opportunities to be creative in how the project delivered its services but this was different from the hands-on making with the children in my care. Later still when I became a researcher, consultant and trainer I continued to work with projects where people and their lives were central. The two constant threads that have been woven throughout my career have been people and being creative.

Within my new role, I remain acutely aware of an intrinsic need to work with people, albeit in a different environment. I have a strong desire that the things I make help individuals to connect with others or to offer a small gift for themselves. I think self-care and giving ourselves permission to treat ourselves occasionally is so vitally important for our feeling of wellbeing.  

So how does my previous career fit with my new one? Fundamental to this are the values that underpin who I am. I care deeply about people’s wellbeing; I strive to adopt my values of compassion and care with others and I hope that this philosophy is evident in my work. I want my products to make people happy, while also considering our environment and our world.

Photographs by Holly Booth Studios https://www.hollybooth.com/