What a difference a year makes! We first interviewed Rachelle Wong in September last year (read her interview here!), and it’s so great to be able to catch up with her again to see how far she’s grown!
- It’s been an exciting few months since we last caught up with you! – what’s been happening?
Lots and lots of exciting things! In a nutshell, I currently have two jobs and my own homeware business to run, so I guess you can call that three jobs. I’ve been involved in some amazing projects, showcased my work locally and abroad, set up an online shop and even taken an enterprise course. Don’t worry though, I’ve managed to squeeze in a holiday to South Korea and Japan which can only be described as a “food-galore” trip!
- You’ve recently launched a homeware product range working with textiles and ceramics (congratulations!) – can you share more details about this?
Well after New Designers, I came back to Edinburgh and realised I had this massive collection but no products to show and thought it would seem such a waste to let it collect dust in the corner. So, tah-dah, Rachelle W Designs was officially launched last year with a range of products that hold a strong sense of colour and pattern.
It is important for me to keep the British manufacturing heritage alive and yet be ethical in producing my work and lots of sampling and researching has been done to meet these values. I have also recently broadened my range into stationery, so there is much more to come!
- You’ve been attending fairs and local events recently – how important do you think it is to be present at these and why?
I think it is vital for a small business owner to be involved in these as I am really into the whole “meet the maker” kind of interaction. It is important for customers to know the designer rather than just a name behind the brand, especially if it is a local business, which is why I named by brand “Rachelle W Designs”. In turn you can learn more about your customers’ personas first hand.
You will also meet plenty of other makers, but don’t see them as competitors. Get involved in the community of crafters and you’ll be surprised how much they can help you out. Also, customers love a good story and when the maker’s lifestyle and passion is being shared, the customers are building their own unique story on top of that.
- Generally how much work is involved in attending craft fairs, is it expensive and what are the major things you need to think about before hand?
When I first started out, it felt like quite a lot of work for a day’s event and the best way I prepared for it was by putting myself in my customer’s shoes on their journey from arriving at my stall to purchasing. This way you can think about important things like payment, packaging, lasting relationship with the customer and much more.
I’ve probably done about eight craft fairs/ pop up shops since launching my business and trust me when I say it becomes easier with practice. Pricing depends of the type of event you attend. I try to showcase my work at more established fairs so there’s a higher chance that there is a good turn out of customers.
- You’ve recently set up an ETSY shop – what are your top tips for reaching out to retailers?
To be honest, I’ve neglected my Etsy shop a little as I was focusing on other projects, but mostly because I was scared of it! It can be quite a competitive place, but you have to be patient. It could be tomorrow or next month, but someone will buy something. And having your first customer is an amazing feeling!
When it comes to approaching retailers, I would recommend contacting them first to arrange a meeting. The worst thing is to pop into their shop at an inconvenient time. Once you’ve arranged a meeting, remember to be confident, professional and prepared. Learn your business terminology, bring a catalogue and show them samples and most of all, put your friendliest face on.
- You have recently entered the ‘Oor Wullie Bucket Trail’ competition – can you tell us more about that and why you think it’s important to get involved with things like this?
The Oor Wullie Bucket Trail is a collaboration between Wild In Art, DC Thomson and The Archie Foundation and I’m involved as one of the artist commissioned to paint one in 50 life size “Oor Wullie” sculptures. At the end of the trail, the sculptures will be put up for a worldwide auction to help raise money for a twin theatre suite for the Tayside children’s hospital in Dundee.
My design is called “Sweet Shop” and displays various hand painted retro sweets. My concept behind the idea is that eighty years on, ‘Oor Wullie’ lives strong in our memories, just as the confectionary of yesteryear.
Getting involved in these local events are important as I believe we all need to give back to our community. It’s a great experience and is something different to put on your CV to help you stand out. And it’s a great way to meet more friends within the creative community.
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Truly be passionate with what you do, and show it through everything- the way you design, how you serve customers and everything else in your day to day running of the business. It will feel much less like a job because you can hardly call it work!
- You’re clearly a determined and driven lady! What are your top 5 tips for setting goals and making them happen?
- Break down your big goals into little ones so they seem less scary. This way you can track your progress better and feel more productive when you’ve ticked off 10 little boxes rather than one.
- Give yourself ample time to get things done and be patient while doing so. Remember that things don’t happen overnight!
- Remember that you can’t do everything yourself. Delegate jobs that you feel someone could be better at, like your accounts or packaging. Yes, it will cost you money, but it will let you spend more time on the creative stuff.
- Don’t rush into things. If you have just finished university, don’t feel like you have to hit the jackpot and get a design job immediately. You’ve just finished your final year, give yourself a break to recharge.
- And as cheesy as it sounds, have fun while doing it all!
- What are you working on at the moment and what’s next?
I am currently working on some designs to sell during the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh during August. This is the biggest event for me yet as this is the heart of Scotland’s tourism so you can imagine the amount of excitement and nervousness going through me now. I also plan to have a new collection ready for this Autumn/Winter but I’m not going to give away too much information about it. All I can say is that it’s food based!
Quick fire question round!
- Who or what inspires your work? Home and Tradition, it’s quite a broad topic for me
- What 3 words describe you? Colourful, diligent and a foodie
- What’s your preferred social media platform? Instagram is a sure winner!
- What are your favourite hobbies? My latest hobby is swimming but I love cooking too
- Can you share 3 things people don’t know about you?
- My latest food obsessions are crème brûlées and matcha lattes
- I have eaten in 67 (and counting!) different restaurants in Edinburgh
- I have lived more of my life in Malaysia than I have in Scotland.
Rachelle Wong graduated in Textile Design from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee in 2015 and now works from her Edinburgh based studio. She recently launched a creative homeware business – ‘Rachelle W Designs’ – and is known best for her love of colour and pattern inspired by subjects close to her heart which provides endless opportunities for her work to explore into. Her current range is available on Etsy offering a range of textiles, ceramics and stationery, so check it out!