Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture

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Rachel's Blog

Monthly Archives: August 2008

  • Welcome to Rachel's World

    Over the years I have communicated my visions, values, and ideas through my books and DVDs, my stores, and even my products. But now I venture into the world of a "blog". The word is a little odd, but I welcome the opportunity of this new vehicle of communication.

    I will begin with my upbringing and how it formed the path which led me to create Shabby Chic: I was raised in London into an artistic bohemian home.  Books lined our walls and floors due to my father’s insatiable appetite for reading and his antique book business. My mum had a business of buying and restoring antique dolls and their clothes. Drawers and cupboards filled with scruffy scraps of lace fabric flowers and velvets waited to be chosen for the next project my mum would begin.  This was the beginning of my lessons on “less is more”. Mum always knew when to stop the restoration so that the imperfection of their age would be embraced rather than erased (Barbie dolls would satisfy the needs of perfection). Playing the piano, sewing and painting were somehow also layered into my mum's daily life.


    My sister Deborah was born with a wealth of talent. Playing the violin, performing dances (of which she still does), sewing clothes, and creating extraordinary illustrations completed the richness of culture and creativity in our home. In my early years I mainly observed and absorbed the creativity. But years later I credit my creative abilities to the subliminal influences of such an array of talent.


    Fleamarketing with my family was my introduction into appreciating unique, soulful, whimsical beauty.


    When I opened my first Shabby Chic store in 1989, I primarily sold faded floral and white denim slip covered furniture, fleamarket treasures, and pretty accessories. My previous jobs, including set design and wardrobe styling were contributing factors to my abilities to work with fabrics, create vignettes, and my sometimes neurotic attention to detail.

    I never really had a plan for my business. I just felt there was a void in the market of a home furnishing store that sold beautiful and comfortable things that were also practical for the sticky fingers of children and other inevitable messes that a lived life leaves behind. At the same time I had a two-year-old daughter, Lily, and a newborn son, Jake. So it was the perfect test on how to have a home that is "beautiful, functional, and comfortable", while still having many years ahead of sofas becoming "forts" and sheets becoming "tents".


    The growth and evolution of my children and Shabby Chic have been parallel over the years. Just recently, both of my children went to college. And now it's Shabby Chic's turn to grow, expanding with more stores, online business, and products.


    Click here to find out other Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic® store locations

    Click here to go to Shabby Chic's online store

    shabby chic stores

    Within the last 20 years Shabby Chic has had times of being “in and out”. But the one constant for me was always trying to keep my voice and expression through my products. Hard sometimes to explain how a ruffle or flakey painted wood could be a reflection of my voice, but to me it is saying there is imperfection in beauty, there is pride in uniqueness and there is soul, warmth and humor in the unexpected.

    my voice

    Here is a sampling of what to look forward to in the future, along with whatever else life might reveal...

    more to come1more to come2more to come3

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