Friday, June 12, 2009

Rachel Ashwell - Grace Under Pressure

No matter what you design aesthetic is there is probably something about Rachel Ashwell and her signature Shabby Chic look that inspires you. I bought her books and stopped by her flagship store in Santa Monica every time I was in town. I admired her for turning nothing into something by popularizing junking and re purposing almost anything.

She was my first introduction to slip covers as a cool design element and not just something your great grandmother used. I loved her do-it-yourself attitude, she was not afraid to get her hands dirty and encouraged her fans to try everything and to never be afraid of making mistakes as they were part of the beauty of the finished project. She made thrifting and yard sales into a new form of social experience.

I just ran across her blog the other day - I didn't even know she wrote one - and I was stunned at what I was reading. I had no idea that her company was going into chapter 11 or that her stores were closing. I began reading and was filled with overwhelming sadness as she recounted the sad journey her company and her life have taken over the past year. Throughout all of her posts documenting the loss of her beloved mother, the closing of her stores, her production facility and the loss of her employees, she has a resolutely positive and philosophical attitude. For someone who rose to such extreme heights of her industry to once again find herself with an uncertain future like the rest of us to remain so gracious and inspiring is a testament to her true nature.

She talks a bit about doors opening and closing, she mentions a new book , and she looks forward to an unplanned life. In this age of such uncertainty I am grateful to have read about her experiences. It reminds us to never take anything for granted and to always pay attention to the things we love most, family and friends.

I am sure we have not heard the last from Ms Ashwell. She is a formidable talent and I am sure she will rise from this setback to once again inspire the world.

Read her inspiring blog here


vicki archer said...

Thanks Jackie - I will. Have a wonderful weekend, xv.

KayEllen said...

Beautiful entry Jackie:)

I don't think we have heard the last of her either..she has a drive and a passion to inspire...

Just slipcovers alone!!

I love the last photo... too cool with chandelier! lol

Have a great weekend..goodnight:)


Anonymous said...

I perfectly agree with all what you said. I was in the Santa Monica store on the last day, and it was sad, but also full of hope about Rachel's come back.
I am sure she will be back soon.
Shabby Chic is more than a Home Decor style, it is an elegant attitude, a way of living, and we see all that in Rachel's words.
Shabby Chic will be in our heart forever.
P.S. : sorry for my bad English, I am French and not perfectly fluent yet.

Suzanne said...

For me, one of the most difficult parts of this "economy" is seeing such talented people struggling, while the giants like Walmart (whom I flatly refuse to patronize) are thriving. It makes me so sad to see the decline of craftsmanship and those who embrace and support it....

Topsy Turvy said...

I have a feeling she will survive and end up on top again. I have always loved her design ideas, her homes and her casual yet chic approach to life. Was so disappointed to see the Soho store closed up when I was there a couple of weeks ago.


Holly Mathis Interiors said...

great post..i totally agree..very well said..

i saw her at Round Top last year (of course i was too shy to say hello to her but loved just observing her a bit;;)..i wish her all the best..she has been such an inspiration to me and so many others..

love your blog!


Holly Mathis

Michelle said...

The look seems re-inventable; and she is so talented...with an attitude like that, I agree, more to come :)

Great post Jackie! I'm off to checkout her blog.

Sanity Fair said...

Thanks for sharing this - I was completely unaware of her book. Now I need to get my hands on it.

Renae Moore said...

I adore the ruffled table cloth and the way the corner was brought up!

nouveau stitch said...

Unfortunately, I think her encouraging the shabby lifestyle of reusing and repurposing made her brand name obsolete. Every flea and antique market I go to now has it's own "shabby" booth or two, albeit not with her unmistakable stamp. I'm betting she'll be back ... with a new and exciting decorating discovery!


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