IN CONVERSATION WITH: RACHEL CASTLE
You may recognise Rachel's works from her artworks, her bedding, her tea towels or her jumpers - but whatever you picture when we say "Rachel Castle", we know it will be vibrant, bright, bubbly, a little cheeky, and full of personality.
Having featured Rachel in our DESIGN magazine, we're big fans of her ourselves. So, for us to get to know her a little better (and all of you, too!), we've asked Rachel to tell us her story.
[TLSE] Your brand is vibrant, fun and unique - where did it come from? Tell us the Rachel Castle story. [Rachel] I spent the first 15 years of my working career in branding. My first job was at Country Road in the marketing department, and from there I moved to the UK and worked at The Conran Shop, organising all the catalogue shoots, working on all the various Conran brands. We then started an agency called The Nest and developed projects for various companies - I was always involved in the direction of product and creative, I wasn’t the one actually creating the imagery. I loved my job and didn’t really feel any need to change direction. I hadn’t developed my own aesthetic, but rather was developing aesthetics for the companies we worked with.
It wasn't until I had my children, moved back to Australia and found myself at home, alone that I found myself with a very real urge to just ‘make things’. I fiddled around with embroidery, did a screen printing class at TAFE, started painting and finally when I had the space to do my own thing, discovered I had quite a lot to say and do. There was never a grand plan - never a plan of any kind at all really! I just started creating things, had a little website made, drew up some bedlinen designs on a very rusty old version of Quark (what a dinosaur!) and had them made locally in Melbourne. I guess I had a LOT of experience in how to create a brand, and had to just let the creative process develop with a little bit of space - no timelines, no briefs, just making things for friends and family, and then eventually popping them online for sale to the general public.
I’ve only ever grown the brand really organically and almost reluctantly if that makes sense. It’s more ‘gawd I better do some kids clothes cause everyone keeps asking’ and a ‘crikey I need to do some more embroideries, everyone’s getting grumpy there aren’t enough’ rather than chasing any kind of growth. Growth actually scares me a little bit, I like things to be nice and calm and small and local. I like to see all the general enquiry emails still, it means I know exactly how our customers are engaging with the brand, and how I can make things better for them.
What does a day in the life look like for you? Up early, focused on getting to work. By 7am it's all starting to fall apart - lost keys, lost phone, can't find my glasses, remember 7 outfit changes for dinner that night straight from work but forget my makeup, that kinda thing! Breathe, coffee, then to work where literally one thing after another presents itself in a very random, haphazard way. My greatest challenge is allocating creative time. There are so many time eaters - PR and product design, production and shipping, shoots, the website, the mailer, social media, one hundred more things, and so on and so forth. I have to be strict when allocating my creative time... I TRY to be strict rather, it’s a daily challenge. I would say admin to creative at the moment is 80/20, which gives me the irrits.
Favourite product you’ve got live right now?
My favourite product hands down and always is our bedding. Getting into a beautiful bed at night, waking up there the next morning - it’s one of life's sweetest little pleasures. So at the moment we’re waiting for our new AW21 range to arrive the week after next, I can’t wait to deck out my own bed at home. Butterscotch florals and big blue stripes, so excited. My husband is so over all the bedding, he’d make the bed with a couple of sleeping bags if he was allowed. Which he obviously is not!
How much of your brand is your personality? All of it, and the girls I work with. Yes, I have the final FINAL say, but design-wise it goes in this order: I love it first, then if they all love it too, it's a yes. If they don’t love it, then I go back and have a good look at why, and revise. I will never put anything on the range that I wouldn’t take home or wear myself, which makes all the design decisions really easy. There is never an exception to this rule - they can’t talk me into something I don’t like! Equally, any and all ideas they have for any part of the business I’m all 20,000 ears.
What song gets your creative juices flowing? All the songs. It totally depends on the day… anything with '80s synth - my son says all the songs I love sound like I invented them on the Hammond organ. He’s not far off! Here’s a little playlist we made during COVID which we love. Your remedy for a tough day in the office? There are three remedies for a hard day. One, bread, two, a big bubbly aperol spritz, and three, a really good episode of Farmer Wants a Wife.
Give us a quote to live by.
Touch it once. The girls know that the minute they open an email they respond to it, going to and fro doesn’t work in such a busy environment - we touch it once, admin and creative alike.
Anything exciting on the horizon? So many things! We’re currently working on a really exciting new collaboration and have a few big projects in the pipeline - watch this space!
To explore Rachel's entire range, click here. Happy shopping!
WORDS | Lucy Francis
IMAGES | Supplied