Rachel Ellen's bright and beautiful hand-drawn designs are instantly recognisable and she's blazed a trail for innovative and inspiring children's gift products as well as stylish stationery for young at heart grown-ups. We've been big fans of her here from very early days and have now been stockists for 19 years!
As part of our series focusing on independent, British, female designers we asked Rachel how it all began...
How did you come to start your business?
I literally started from nothing in my little flat in Clapham, London. I used to hand paint glass and acetate cards and sell at craft fairs. It really took off and I was painting sometimes for 18 hours a day to keep up with demand, with the whole floor of my flat covered in drying out cards!
Eventually, it came to the point where I couldn’t grow anymore so after a lot of experimenting with printers, I had the cards screen printed and officially launched Rachel Ellen in May 1997 at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate.
What did you do before setting it up?
I was a professional ballet dancer which is a profession that unfortunately you can’t do forever!
What’s your favourite item that you sell?
Our water bottles – they remind me of the “stained glass” look of our original cards – I love the mix of bright colours and transparency.
What is the best thing about your job?
Being able to be creative everyday and seeing the products come to life from conception to finish. I have the most wonderful team around me now, so that makes the world of difference!
What qualities do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, sense of humour, trust.
What animal would you choose to be?
Definitely one of my Yorkshire Terriers.
What talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to sing or play the piano.