Rachel Riley is an award-winning British designer with a children’s clothing brand of the same name. Rachel Riley’s hand-crafted, classic baby and children’s clothing in joyous prints are best known for their quality and style. Traditional craftsmanship of hand embroidery and hand smocking is used to create their signature styles combined with the charming prints they create in-house, on fine, soft, fabrics.
Today, the popular baby and children’s brand counts both Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Sarah Jessica-Parker, Suri Cruise and Harper Beckham among its famous customer base. Despite employing around 20 people across the UK and the US, Riley is still as involved in the company as she was when it launched 25 years ago: she covers everything from selecting fabric and trims, to working on print design, to planning and budgeting.
Rachel lives in Buckinghamshire and is married with 3 grown-up children.
Why did you choose to design children’s fashion and is it easier to design for boys or for girls?
Children’s fashion is such fun as it is innocent and juvenile – or maybe that is just what I like – all those sweet ‘bunny’ prints for Easter, or kittens or lollipops. They are many amusing opportunities for embroideries and hand-work that doesn’t really exist in adult fashion. I like to make things with my hands – knitting, smocking and embroidery, and that really lends itself to small things, beautifully made. Of course, there is more choice for girls, but boys are fun too. This season we did elephants marching across a cardigan in soft greys, and a matching ribbon trim.
Rachel Riley’s Spring Summer 2021 Collection
Designed to bring you fun and joy, Rachel Riley’s new collection for babies and children has just launched. Spring has truly sprung with this luxury clothing collection, with its kaleidoscope of rainbow colours fabulous for both girl and boys.
How do you start your day?
I say ‘hello’ to my husband and nowadays head straight out for a jog at a leisurely pace! I like to see the sunrise and feel the cold wind on my face.
How has coronavirus affected the way you work?
My team and I have all been home-working since last March where I am lucky enough to have a design studio. I make a few phone calls early and thenI join my team for our 9 am video conference to say hello and plan for the day.
Emails or zoom calls?
Both have advantages: emails are efficient, but zoom calls are more personal!
What’s a typical lunch?
I make ciabatta sandwiches most days and stuff them with salad, greens and other healthy options!
What’s your coffee (or tea) order?
Tea all day: earl grey if possible, and a slice of shortbread.
What happens in the afternoon?
My working day is paperwork/emails/meetings in the morning. Then my husband and I go into the studio in the afternoon (we have one at the bottom of our garden as he is a photographer) and we work on photoshoots and videos – we have been so creative since lockdown!
What’s your favourite part of the creative process?
Selecting fabrics and trims… It’s amazing how excited I can get about choosing the right sparkle button or polka-dot ribbon.
What time do you finish and head home?
I’d like to say between 6 pm and 7 pm but sometimes we are totally engrossed in a shoot and it gets later. Recently I have come across some great playlists, so we have the music on and enjoy the collaboration.
What do you do to unwind?
Recently I have been trying to be more mindful and have turned our dining room into a yoga studio. I have also tried meditation too, although I find it hard to quiet the busy workings of my mind! I am an avid gardener, so I now have electric light in my potting shed and have started sowing vegetables and sweet peas.
What’s a typical dinner during the working week in your household?
I didn’t use to enjoy cooking but since working from home am really into it! My favourite dish is a fish and aubergine curry and I make mixed spice shortbread now too.
What do you watch on the TV?
We have loved some of the series that we can go back to each night. Especially the funny ones, like Schitt’s Creek which we enjoyed for weeks.
What time do you go to bed?
Around 10 pm. I like to go to bed early and I love my electric blanket these days! It’s all about comfort as far as I am concerned.
What book are you reading?
I have quite a few on the go, but I have just started ‘The Well Gardened Mind’ by Sue Stuart Smith. I am fascinated by the positive benefits gardening has – but then I must have known this already, as I find so much pleasure in gardening and bringing new plants into life and nurturing them.
How do you spend your weekends?
I love gardening, as it really lets me switch off. I also find it so satisfying watching the seasons change and the plants that I have grown develop.
One piece of advice would you give your younger self?
It’s about the journey, not the destination.
What wisdom would you like to pass on to your children?
Hard work, passion, determination, believing in yourself, but also being adaptable and able to change. I love proverbs like: ‘strike while the iron is hot’, and ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. And I have a favourite saying from Confucius: ‘Wherever you go, go with all your heart’.
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
Gosh, that’s a difficult one! ‘Creativity and making things stoke my enthusiasm, but I am proud that I am reliable and dependable and that those close to me can count on me!’