How Rachel stuck out her neck to risk it all on her unique scarf design
IT WAS a flash of inspiration in the playground some 12 years ago which would eventually change fashion designer Rachel Emma Wright's life forever.
After witnessing a child receive a nasty burn mark to her neck when her scarf had been pulled in the playground, Rachel set about creating an alternative for her then-three-year-old daughter Isobel.
The talented designer, who studied millinery at Epsom School of Art in London, came up with the scarf collar – a button-around collar that was as stylish as it was practical.
Rachel's signature tasselled collars are now causing quite a stir in the fashion world.
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When we meet, the 40-year-old is busy cutting sample patterns on the dining room table in her Tamworth home in preparation for an agency who want to take her designs to America.
It's amazing to think that Rachel turned her scarf idea into a burgeoning fashion business less than 12 months ago.
Rew Clothing specialises in quirky and directional items which are, as Rachel says, really easy to wear. Her label, which launched last June, has taken off dramatically and is now stocked in 93 boutiques across the country, as well as through a boutique on top online fashion retailer ASOS and on Rachel's own website.
This time last year life Rachel was balancing the demands of being mum to Isobel, now 15, and two-and-a-half year old Dewey, with a part-time job in a call centre.
And if it hadn't been for a redundancy scare she may have never plucked up the courage to take her designs further.
"Being a single mum to two children and trying to run a house, it was a job which suited the hours around school," says Rachel.
"I'd always had a lot of interest from mums in the playground who loved Izzy's collar.
"So I made them as a hobby for years, selling the odd one here and there. And when I got faced with redundancy I just thought that if I didn't do it now, I never will."
So Rachel scraped together enough money to make a small collection to take to a London trade show. And she's never looked back.
Rachel's collar collection ranges from the functional items to keep you warm to the dressy tasselled pieces which will change the look of an outfit in seconds.
"To me, Rew means really easy wear and that's what I'm all about," says Rachel. "You just pop one of the collars on and that's it; you don't have to fiddle around getting them to sit right, they just look great."
The initial spring/summer and autumn/winter collections have each received three injections of new styles, and Rew's rapid success in the accessories market has seen Rachel recently launch her first clothing line.
For Rachel, fashion has always been a hugely important part of her life.
But after studying millinery at Epsom School of Art, her passion for the subject waned and she embarked on a career in the retail sector instead.
Rachel's fast-track through the fashion industry has been an enormous challenge – but one she has relished every step of the way.
"Even though I studied fashion I still went into it a little bit blind," says Rachel. "I'm not business-minded, I'm the creative brain.
"I've really had to learn so much; I didn't even know how to make spreadsheets, and I've sat up til the early hours of the morning basically teaching myself how to upload things to my own website."
But, she says: "People are right when they say everything happens for a reason.
"I'm a great believer in fate, and for me it's all been about timing.
"I could have launched this 12 years ago when I first came up with the collar idea, but the time wasn't right and I couldn't dedicate myself to it."
An unabridged version of this feature can be found in this month's Journal magazine, available from new agents priced £2.