Rachael Taylor

August 11, 2013



Rachael Taylor is co-founder of Make It In Design. This is how Rachael describes herself: “I’m a surface pattern designer and illustrator known for a happy and quirky signature style. I’m lucky enough to run my own international design label along with working with a number of companies worldwide.”

Random facts about me:

  • I love to design to all types of music
  • I LOVE colour!
  • I love to travel and see the world
  • I’m a fan of living spontaneously
  • I believe in working hard but having lots of fun!

1. How are you leading a life ‘doing what you love’?

Just over five years ago I left a secure job to pursue my dreams and take control of my own design path. It really was the best decision ever and has really opened my eyes to what’s out there in the world. I suddenly felt free. It was like a huge weight had been lifted and it really allowed my personality to shine through. I gained confidence as a person and taking that leap encouraged me to push myself both professionally and in my personal life.

Ever since, my life really has been one exciting rollercoaster. Although there have been ups and downs and lots of sacrifices I really wouldn’t change a thing! I have been on such an exciting life-changing journey. I have really had to learn on the job, and I’ve made some mistakes along the way. I believe things can happen for reason, and every little thing (good or bad) has played a part in my career and shaped my creative journey.

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2. What did you do before this?

I have always worked in the design industry. I was lucky enough to secure full-time employment straight after graduation. I initially worked for a year as a print and design technician for a small textile company. I then went to work for Hallmark, UK for a further two years. My role was a ‘Mac designer’ and my specialism was surface pattern design.

The experience of working in-house was invaluable and the people were fantastic; however, I always felt more of a number than an individual designer. It was also very competitive, and I never felt I was being true to me. I was never really allowed to draw from scratch or inject my own ideas as we generally received quite restrictive design briefs. Early on in my career, I was happy to plod along and soak it all up, but after a while I really began to not enjoy my work at all. I always had a niggling uneasy feeling. It sounds odd but I always knew I was meant to do something else. I just needed to figure out what that was. I always say my ‘inner doodler’ was set free once I decided to go it alone.

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3. Is the way your life is unfolding different to what you expected when you were younger?

I didn’t ever set vision for myself, I just always worked hard was very ambitious and wanted to be happy. I didn’t have a list of things I wanted to achieve as such, rather my life has just evolved naturally. I have worked crazy hours to achieve certain things but you really do get back what you put in. Each step has pushed me to achieve higher goals and I hope to continue to grow personally and professionally.

I always wanted to be involved in a creative field and I’m so grateful that this is the path I followed. I recently got married and I’m feeling very content right now. I try not to take my career or the people around me for granted.

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4. How do you think each of us can live the fullest life possible?

By following your dreams. It can be scary but I think it’s good to know you have given it a go. Everyone has different backgrounds and situations and things in life that can hold you back from time to time, but in the end we only have one life so it’s important to take charge and grab the opportunities that come your way.

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5. What has prevented you from doing this in the past, and how did you move forward?

Having the time to do things and the confidence in myself used to hold me back.

I hardly watch any TV nowadays. I gave up a lot of little things so I would have the extra time to put the work in to achieve my goals. I can be a bit of a work hermit around big deadlines but then I go on lots of mini breaks and travel, which makes up for it.

Dealing with rejection can be hard, but I’m someone who doesn’t like the ‘what ifs’. I’d rather try something than to have never have given something a chance. I love the saying “Never regret the things you do; only the things you don’t.”

I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and it was challenging financially at the start, but I was prepared to make a lot of sacrifices to make it happen. I really want to be in it for the long haul, and I knew it wasn’t a spur of the moment career path.

6. What is the best advice you have received?

There isn’t a single particular piece of advice but I’m someone who is really inspired by motivational quotes. I love this one:

“Entrepreneurship – is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – (Unknown)

My advice to others would be to believe in yourself and take that leap! I always think if you want something so much you really can make it happen. I made a promise to myself to stay truly dedicated to my goal and never, EVER give up!

I tried not to worry and think too much about the big picture, as that way you don’t get so overwhelmed. Daily, weekly and monthly goals are realistic and manageable. I think if you don’t try something it will always niggle away at you so you might as well as just go for it! Remember to celebrate your achievements along the way no matter how big or small.

When you’re having a bad day and things are not going to plan it’s important to reflect and remind yourself how far you come.

Life really is short so make the most of every opportunity and chance that you are given.

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7. What gets you up in the morning?

My crazy schedule! I’m addicted to my job. I love the adrenaline it brings and I’m someone who seems to actually thrive under pressure. I juggle a lot of projects and it really does keep me on my toes. My work is never boring. Everyday is different bringing new rewards and challenges. I’m a newlywed and have a beautiful home life so I’m in a good place right now. That really helps to motivate me.

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8. An important area of your design business is teaching, offline and online. Why do you love teaching so much?

It’s hard to explain the buzz you get from it. It was quite nerve-wracking in the beginning as you worry that people may find you boring or not like the ‘you’ they expected, or not enjoy your teaching. Luckily I’ve found it to be a completely rewarding experience. To be able to help and inspire others is mindblowing.

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9. Your acclaimed course The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design has given huge numbers of people the tools and inspiration they need to carve out a life doing what they love as a surface pattern designer. Many have gone on to start their own labels, get signed by leading companies, be featured in books and on leading blogs and win national competitions, all in a short space of time after graduating. What do you think it is about the course that has been so important in seeing such incredible student success?

The course is really comprehensive and we really do aim to cover everything. The fact that it is split into three modules actively helps as it allows the teaching to flow progressively whilst catering for students at  all different levels. We also cover a lot of extra things that you don’t get at university, especially in the area of business. My whole career has been poured into the course (along with all my trade secrets) so this gives the students the opportunity for a fast track into the industry.

One of the main things I wanted to convey was to be ‘you’ in your work. Of course we have to learn commerciality but the design industry is a competitive one. Injecting your personality and putting your own stamp on things will always help you to stay passionate and create fantastic original designs.

As much as the course is educational we do make it fun too. The tone is very open and honest, and fairly informal. We share a lot. I think that has really helped as we have managed to build a caring online design community who genuinely do look out for each other. The class networking has also played a huge part in many of our alumni’s confidence and continued success. Lastly it has really has been the students’ hard work and dedication that has helped them achieved their goals in such a short space of time. There have been so many opportunities with the course, such as live briefs, competitions, press features etc and the class always rises to any challenge.

One thing I do encourage is just to go for it. Life is too short to worry too much. We all get rejected from time to time but it’s good to at least try and I think the online support has given a lot of the students the encouragement and reassurance they needed to make that leap.

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10. Finally, what do hope your life holds in store for you?

I hope to continue doing what I love. I really would love for my design brand to keep growing, to be able to teach around the world and possibly create some childrens books. I enjoy the ‘not knowing’ sometimes. As long as I continue to do my best, be happy, work hard and remain dedicated, I’m quite happy to see where the journey takes me. I really hope to have longevity as a designer.

If you would like to find out more about Rachael you can visit her website and read her blog, or you can follow her on Facebook and/or Twitter. If you would like to see more examples of Rachael’s stunning work you can visit her shop.

Read more interviews with inspiring people doing what they love here.

[All images courtesy of navyblur

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