Summer of 1989 saw the opening of my first Shabby Chic store in Santa Monica CA. My vision and intent was to bring beautiful, comfortable & functional products into the world, with the emphasis on washable slipcovered furniture blended with vintage treasures. I had no training in anything but I had a passion & a story I wanted to tell. My initial vision fit in perfectly into the California lifestyle. A mix of my English aesthetic and inspiration of the wide open inviting spaces of LA with its magical light. Shabby Chic has been welcomed with open arms ever since.
By the time Autumn 1989 rolled around I had opened a store in Soho, NYC. Back then there were no computers, no Google, no other stores that carried slipcovered furniture and no knowledge of reclaimed furniture. So it felt important to me to have a store on each coast. Even though there were other NY considerations that effected how my aesthetics fit into NY life, the magic of the world of Shabby Chic struck a chord with the people in the big city. I have loved Shabby Chic having a home in the big city for over 25 years. It has given me the opportunity for Shabby Chic to tell stories for the seasons, the slubby smokey linens and soft velvets have their moments along with our original signature white world.
I have priceless memories of how every Christmas, Jake, Lily & I would pilgrimage to the city for ice skating, hot chocolate and all the magic of the city. We have the happiest memories of all being together in the store, amongst the twinkly chandeliers, fragrant candles, mushy cushions and Christmasy Enya music. Magic at it’s finest, and forever memories. However, as you may have heard, we are soon saying "so long to Soho.” There are reasons why, but falling out of love with NYC is certainly not one of them.
My passion for design is stronger than ever and focusing on producing Rachel Ashwell & Shabby Chic treasures is where my heart and soul wants to be. So as hard as it is to let go of this piece, once the NYC store closes in November, we will all have memories in technicolor of the journey shared. And for all of you NYC based lovers of my worlds, please stay in touch as I have loved being in your world.
I hope to see you in my RA world, at stores in Santa Monica, San Francisco, Japan and shabbychic.com. As well as my Simply Shabby Chic world at Target and new ventures in the works too. Balancing business in a competitive market, without compromising quality and beauty is not easy, but love, gratitude and commitment to thoughtful hard work, will keep the world of shabby chic relative and strong.