Meet the Maker – Rachel Emma Studio
It’s, Melodie, owner of SlinkyLinks Jewellery and captain of the London Local team, and today I’m back to show you more of the hidden side of the handmade world.
Last week I took my first trip to Orpington, on the outskirts of London, to meet with our team member and newest team leader Rachel Good from Rachel Emma Studio. Rachel describes herself as “a freelance designer/maker and I run a business selling handmade wedding decorations, stationery and gifts.”
I met her on the High Street, at the post-office, for her daily post run. “The post office is about a 20 minutes walk away, so I pop down there most days with my parcels which gives me a nice break and a refresh.”
We then went to have lunch and a chat at a new trendy cafe. Rachel and her fiance Jake have made the choice to move a little further away on the outskirts of London where you get more space for your money in order to pursue their dreams. Now Rachel has a proper studio in her pretty little house where she has enough space to work and that has done a lot for her business.
Her cat Ceci is also very happy with that room and loves playing with all the lovely things Rachel makes.
What I love about Rachel’s work is its honesty. She isn’t afraid to show who she is. With bold, glittery designs, moodboards and motivation quotes, what you see is what you get. It’s a girly girl’s dream!
Originally from Southampton, Rachel moved to London for Uni “I went to drama school to study theatre design, and I have stayed here ever since. I’ve lived here for 8 years now, and plan to stay for the foreseeable future, in spite of occasionally fantasising about running away to the seaside (or somewhere cheaper)!” and don’t we all dream that dream from time to time…
What I admire most about Rachel is her capacity to reinvent herself. To pursue a dream, not only was she open to a change of career, she is always looking for new ways to supplement her income while staying true to what she wants.
“My business started as a way to supplement my income as a freelance theatre designer when I left university. I was trusted with some friends’ wedding designs, and I enjoyed that so much that I thought I could start designing wedding items for other people too. That’s how my Etsy shop was born! I have since moved away from my career in theatre to focus on my design business full time, and I have never looked back.”
She also recently started a business coaching service, after helping out a few friends setting and developing their businesses.
Rachel is always on a look out for new skills and ways to better herself and improve her business “I love being self-employed, and everything that comes with it. I love the challenge of business planning and working out strategies to grow my brand. The best thing about being a business owner is that you have to be a life-long learner and constantly develop your skills, which is really fun and keeps things interesting.” She’s taking regular online courses and is now working into creating some of her own content.
But when you are doing so many different things, you need to have good organisation skills and be able to switch your brain easily “My biggest struggle is that I feel like I have so many ideas bouncing around at once that it is hard to rein it in sometimes and just get stuff done. I am definitely very multi-passionate, which makes coming up with a concise “elevator pitch” about my business really difficult.”
To remedy this, Rachel sticks to a daily routine “I work from my home studio in Orpington, so I usually get up at about 7.30am and do some youtube yoga (if I’m being good!). Then at the moment because it’s peak season for me I usually work on any urgent orders after breakfast until about lunchtime”. She then pops out to the post office for a bit of a break. “Then when I get back the afternoon is usually taken up by admin or any freelance projects I’m currently working on. I still work evenings and weekends sometimes, which is a habit I’m trying really hard to break!” Rachel is also an expert at using the right organisation tools. She introduced us team leaders to Trello (a free online project management application) and it changed our lives and made communication within the group so much easier.
So is it all work and no play for Rachel? I think not “I’m addicted to learning new craft skills so I always have a new hobby on the go – I love making things for around the house and for other people. I also recently started playing Netball again and I’m loving it even though I’m seriously uncoordinated! ”
Most of Rachel’s work is custom made so I wanted to learn more about Rachel design process. Where she get her inspiration from and how she’s able to design for other people.
“My background in theatre design has really influenced my current design process. Set design is all about creating beautiful environments, and I approach my handmade products in the same way. I imagine the finished product in its future environment – with weddings I think about the whole theme/mood of the wedding and how each detail will fit within that, and with gifts for the home I picture the type of interior the piece will live in. I also take a lot of inspiration from my customers and their ideas for custom orders, I love working within a brief and it helps me to get out of my own head and get new ideas.”
Indeed Rachel is a good listener and she uses that skill to deliver spot on wedding decor to happy customers. “My favourite thing about the work I do is I get to work on custom designs for the loveliest couples. I love the feeling that I have helped them create a wedding that represents them as a couple, and that I have helped contribute to their special day.” And if you have a look at the reviews on her shop, you can tell that the feeling is mutual.
As her business grows, Rachel finds new ways to create beautiful wedding decors. “I recently invested in a new cutting machine, which I am obsessed with! I’ve been making cake toppers with it, but I have so many other product ideas and I can’t wait to expand my range of wedding decorations.” I have to say I have seen this machine in action and it’s inspiring. Apparently it can also cut leather. I might come back with a few pieces to try it out…
But even for a self-taught woman like Rachel, running your own business comes with challenges. “After this busy wedding season is over I really want to focus on getting my finances organised and be a bit more strategic as I plan for the different holiday seasons. It all still feels like I’m rushing to get new products out for the coming season, and I’d like to be a bit more organised with that.” And I for one can’t wait to see the new ranges of products Rachel comes up with.
Any advice for someone starting a new business? “Say yes to as much as you can when you are very first starting, as that allows you to meet people and get experience in your field, and it also helps you realize exactly what you enjoy doing. Then the next most important thing to learn is how to say no, to learn your limits and to be intentional about the things you allow in your schedule.”
We asked Rachel to become a team leader recently and I know it came as a surprise to her. It was a unanimous choice on our part though. Her natural enthusiasm and kindness have touched us all. But how did her involvement with the team help her and her business? “I joined [the team] at Christmas time last year; I had just changed direction away from theatre design and was missing the collaborative aspect of the industry. Sometimes working from home can be really isolating, so I just wanted to meet some like-minded people that understood all the things that come from being a small business owner. Being part of the team has been better than I could ever have expected! I have met some amazing new friends, and I feel part of a community, which is just so valuable. The events I have been a part of so far have been so much fun, and I can’t wait for the things we have in store for the rest of the year and beyond!”
Next time you are at a meet up, come up to Rachel and chat to her about your business, pet or…Buffy the Vampire Slayer (intriguing isn’t it). She is the quiet one with big hair and a warm smile on her face, always happy to give encouragements and useful tips. “If you want to get more involved in the handmade community but you are a bit shy or hesitant, just go for it! It might be one of the best decisions you ever make!”
Now it’s time to leave Rachel to her beautiful wedding creations and focus on our upcoming events.
You can find some of Rachel’s products in our Pop-Up shop this August in Hackney, from the 2nd till the 14th. You can also visit her Etsy shop or her website. So if you’re a bride or groom to be and want a unique, handmade wedding, search no further. Rachel will be happy to help you create the perfect day you are looking for.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Rachel and her process.
Until next time…XX