Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture

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Rachel's Blog

Monthly Archives: February 2009

  • Step by Step

    getting our footing copy

    Two weeks behind us with our decision to file Shabby Chic into Chapter 11. The process of restructuring Shabby Chic is underway.
    Since my last blog entry we have received over 200 comments of sorrow but also extra-ordinary support.

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    For someone who is used to a road of flea marketing, this road is complicated.
    We are having to challenge our creative brains to process basic business understandings.

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    Many people are asking me questions...
    When will everything be ok again?
    What is the worst that can happen?
    I am not really thinking about these thoughts.
    Some people have disappointed me, but that emotion is pale in comparison with loyalty, genuine care and strength of character of so many.

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    Our Greenwich Avenue and East Hampton Stores have closed.
    My staff were of such support to the end.

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    Both landlords are gentlemen.
    They took the time to travel to meet me last week for tea.

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    They both expressed the sadness that we had to close down.
    Their words were self-less and they shared with me their words of wisdom.
    I will be touched forever.

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    And I will take their advice to heart.

    The Shabby Chic Team at the corporate office spend every moment strategizing our turnaround.
    There has been many a night we find ourselves sitting in my office, regrouping of the day’s events and discussing the following days agenda.
    Often we don’t even notice the sun has gone down, and we are talking in the dark with the exception of the light source from my computer.

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    Sometimes in the wee hours of the night I have fears of the "what ifs".
    But the cliché of "one step at the time", plays out perfectly here.
    Each and every day there are goals and I simply focus on the present day.
    I don’t use up my energy on the “what ifs”.

    I have been spending some extra time in the stores and reminding myself how much I love what we sell and how much my customers appreciate the products in our stores.

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    Customers and vendors who have been caught in our situation are more concerned that we will make it though, than they are about their orders and that fuels the little engine of Shabby Chic.
    The load is heavy, but we keep going.

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    I am happy to say I am finding the time to work on my next book, which will be available in the fall.
    It is a perfect place to pour my heart and soul.
    My raw feelings are bringing out pure creativity.

    Bruce Springsteen’s latest hit, "Working on a Dream", inspires me.
    We are all in this together, working on all our dreams.
    Even though Shabby Chic is a reality, I am working on my dream of making Shabby Chic well again.
    And as always, the best place to dream is in my Shabby Chic bed.

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    I have read every comment posted on the Shabby Chic blog.
    I'm touched at how much belief you have in me and that in one way, shape or form, all will be ok.
    I have printed out all your comments and put them in “my forever to keep” drawer. As to me they deserve the permanence of paper, without fear of being lost with a delete button.

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    Hazelnut Cottage comment on the Endurance Blog Entry: quoted on Tuesday February 2008…

    "There is much guidance in what does not and cannot happen in my life as there is in what can and does - maybe more."
    Parker Palmer

    Shabby Chic is being guided with all that can happen from what cannot.

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  • Endurance

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    This is a blog I never in my wildest nightmares thought I would have to write.

    Last Thursday evening Shabby Chic filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
    Business has been hard for a while, but the notion that my beloved company would become as broken as it has was never a consideration for me.
    I thought there would be other solutions. But with great sadness, in the end, it was the best choice of some very not nice choices.

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    What this means to me is an opportunity to try to restructure and save Shabby Chic.

    Over the past couple of years we opened about 10 new stores. Largely due to an economy that took a dramatic turn, the timing was very poor to try and expand. There are other reasons that caused the cracks, which one day I will explain just to pass on my lessons.

    The Bobling Pink Girl_final copy

    The road to recovery for Shabby Chic will be hard and recovery is by no means certain. I find myself in a situation of having to understand parts of business that are challenging for a flea market girl.

    I was never much of a negotiator and for 17 and one half years I grew my company in a manageable way.

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    I find the rise and the fall of Shabby Chic very parallel to my family.

    My son Jake was born 20 years ago in May and Shabby Chic's doors opened in august twenty years ago.

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    Their growth and lessons have often been very parallel.

    And then twenty years later, as many of you know, I lost my mum. Even though she was still so lovely and her heart-beat was strong, her broken pieces couldn't be fixed.

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    Shabby Chic's heart and soul beats as strong as ever.

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    And if I say so myself, Shabby Chic has never been so beautiful.

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    I have a strong team who believes in our future. We know the problems and every minute of every day is being spent making Shabby Chic strong again.

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    I am touched by the demand for our products. Some of which we cannot supply at this time. I thank you for loving Shabby Chic. And somehow we will shrink down to a place that we can get our feet back on the ground.

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    If you see a store closing it is not because we didn't try, or love the neighbourhood. We just have to focus our energies and resources to gain our strength back and take care of our customers through remaining store locations.

    Your patience will be needed and so very appreciated. My staff will answer your questions as best they can.

    I thank you for your faith in me.

    With love, respect, gratitude.

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