An Interview With Inspirational Clothing Designer Rachel Riley

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The folding clotheslines is really honoured to bring you our next inspirational woman Rachel Riley who is a British award-winning clothing designer who has designed outfits for a range of celebrities including Prince George .

Her self-titled British luxury fashion brand is based in Marylebone, London, where they design, manufacture and sell luxury children & baby clothes, by retail and wholesale.

They also sell some women’s clothes, which they call ‘Mother Match’.

Rachel’s design philosophy is rooted in her traditional lifestyle and draws inspiration from the forties, fifties and sixties with fine tailoring, beautiful hand smocking, hand embroidery and vintage-inspired prints designed by and exclusive to the brand.

As well as winning multiple awards, she also has a royal fan base as her designs have been worn by none other than Prince George who wore their sailboat smocked dungarees on his first Official Engagement and a striped polo and pocket shorts on his 2nd Official Engagement.

Rachel studied at Cambridge University and worked as a model in Paris, New York & London before setting up her own company twenty years ago when she had children of her own, as she likes to hand sew, embroider and knit.

Let’s meet Rachel..

Rachel Riley

Describe a typical day for you?

I don’t think any day is typical, as fashion is cyclical and we work on 6-month seasons, Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter. My favourite day is a design day, as I can spread out all my fabric swatches and ideas, harmonise colours and select buttons and trims. Many people are surprised that I can reap so much pleasure from selecting buttons, but some of them are so beautiful, like jewels, or sweeties! I also enjoy the other aspects of running a business, such as planning budgets or preparing for international presentations. And of course I like to listen to customer feedback, and being on the shop floor, selling. I still get excited when I see someone walking down the street with one of our distinctive lilac carrier bags!

What do you feel are your biggest achievements to date?

Would that be personal or professional? Personally, I am very pleased to have a happy relationship with my husband whom I have known for over thirty years, and of course our 3 children, who are now young adults, setting out in their careers. I feel an enormous sense of achievement, having founded my company to see it nurture and grow. I enjoy seeing celebrity customers appreciate our outfits and, of course, seeing our Happy Customers on social media. However, I would say that the international excitement when Prince George has been seen wearing our outfits has made me feel very proud indeed.

What are your ambitions in life?

I would like to see how we can grow our business globally. I am committed to international expansion, and as we have a lot of overseas customers, I would like to be successful in building a global brand. Nearly half of our business is in the USA, and I love to see how beautifully they dress their children, especially for formal occasions. I also like to see how they dress their children in matching outfits, especially for photographs, so I would like to be able to grow the business in America. I also see opportunity for our company in the Middle East, China and the Far East, India and Europe

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?

As well as expanding abroad, we have recently taken on agents in the UK and Ireland, so I would like to grow our business at home. I would hope that we can increase our stockists so our collections are more widely available across Great Britain. I have a lot of determination, so I am quite active in trying to making these dreams a reality! We are putting a lot of energy into our websites at present, as we have our all collections online with transactional websites in both the UK and the USA. I would like to grow online sales as that offers all the convenience of choosing from our collections, and having the items delivered straight to your home, in our luxury packaging, which our customers really appreciate!

What’s the most effective strategy for installing confidence in yourself?

As I enjoy what I do, I don’t have any problems motivating myself! I look forward to the day ahead, to see what I can achieve, with catch phrases like ‘never put off until tomorrow what you can do today’ which are always motivational for me. I have always been quite self-assured in the things that I do, as I don’t think it is helpful to have self-doubt. I firmly believe that the most important part of any project is getting started, and the rest flows from there. I also try not to project into the future and I never needlessly worry about what might happen. I prefer to remind myself ‘we will cross that bridge when we come to it’!

What advice would you give to anyone launching a similar business?

To stand for something, and to do it fully. When I started my business (we recently celebrated the 18th anniversary of our first shop in Knightsbridge) classic children’s clothes were not in fashion, but I felt very strongly for this style. Now traditional childrenswear is very much on-trend, but I would not recommend launching a business based on a trend! Everything always takes much longer than you anticipate! Confucius said ‘Wherever you go, go with all your heart’, and that is definitely a saying that I use often, as well as ‘if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’

What’s in your handbag that you can’t survive without?

I like to put on red lipstick if I feel like I need a boost of energy, as I always like to look well presented – you never know who you might meet, and need to look your best! And I always carry with me our latest lookbook, as I never know when I might need to show off our latest collection! I remember being on a flight to New York and getting chatting with the air hostess who started looking through the collection, and by the time we had arrived, she had already placed her order. She remains one of our loyal customers!

Finally, happiness is…

Spending time in my garden – in the summer when I get home from work I go into my cutting garden and pick flowers for the house. There is nothing like picking fresh flowers from the garden, especially when ones that I have grown from seed. And the satisfaction of seeing the first growth as those yellow-green shoots emerge from dark brown earth. I love to mix the pastel shades of sweet peas, or the bright colours of cut dahlias, or the feathery foliage of pink cosmos mixed with blue cornflowers!

We will also be bringing you a product review of Rachel Riley’s beautiful clothes very soon so stay tuned!

UK Website and Social Media:

www.rachelriley.co.uk
Instagram – @rachelrileyuk
Facebook – Rachel Riley UK
Twitter – Rachel Riley UK

US Website and Social Media:

www.rachelriley.com
Instagram – @rachelrileyus
Facebook – Rachel Riley US
Twitter – Rachel Riley US
Rachel’s personal Instagram – @rachelrileyglam