You may remember me saying that last week got off to a lovely start (before it all went rather wrong) when I met up with a Midlifechic reader. Rachel Roberts was one of the very first people to contact me via Twitter – I was sending my blog live for the first time as she was also about to launch her new clothing brand so we were both feeling very nervous. We finally decided to get together and it made sense to meet at the Management School at Lancaster University where I sometimes teach and where Rachel studied her MBA (after being made redundant from a stellar career in finance whilst she was on maternity leave – shocking)!
Anyway our main intention was really just to build a friendship – it was such a joy to meet a new, intelligent, chic woman in the North West (and I’m thrilled that others of you have suggested we meet up in the next few months, it’s going to be the very best thing to come from this blog). However after we’d spent an hour chatting and because she was dressed in the clothes she creates, we naturally moved on to Rachel’s business – RachelWears. Here she is by the way so you have a picture in mind:
So, what Rachel is really offering is relaxed glamour. She developed the idea for her business when she was doing her MBA and uncovered the issues surrounding some of the brands that we all buy from. She has decided to launch a brand that does not follow the pressure to continually drive for lower prices at the expense of quality and I have to say she made me think. So often I notice either in blog conversations or in the reviews that customers leave on retail sites that people are noticing that once reliable brands are lessening the quality of the materials they use – wool, jersey, cashmere etc and that the finish just isn’t what you would expect.
Rachel’s clothes are all British made, she’s worked really hard to source suppliers who still maunfacture in the UK: the jumpers and cardigans are knitted in Leicester and the jersey is stitched in Nottingham and Manchester. The Autumn line is her second range and she’s working hard to develop it as she goes so she will be really interested in any feedback you can give. When I asked a friend to tell me what she thought, she said it reminded her of Hush and Mint Velvet but that it was perhaps less trendy and more elegant than those brands. Looking at the range made me realise that I’m not very good at relaxed glamour and so when she suggested I try styling something I was quite keen to take up the challenge. This is what I received in the post:
When I unwrapped it it was even hand tied with a sprig of lavender:
And here’s the first piece – a fabulous merino and alpaca swing jumper worn with navy M&S coated jeans, Ines de la Fressange @ Uniqlo twill shirt, Treaty necklace, Autograph @ M&S ankle boots, Chanel sunglasses. The next piece I will be reviewing is a grey drape cardigan – completely new proportions for me so I’m still playing around with it to work out what looks best.
I wore the jumper for a brainstorming session we were having for project we’re working on and our intern Kit was very keen to take the photos during the break (I think he perhaps just wanted to get out of there) so there are quite a few that I’ve promised to use but at least you get to see the jumper in all its glory!
I really am a terrible model and now I was getting bored!
He wouldn’t even let me drink my coffee in peace (although his focus is clearly now on the coffee and not on what I’m saying)!
I have to say that I like the unstructured shape of the jumper. The mix of yarn is unusual, it gives it the stiffness that you would normally associate with linen (it must be the alpaca wool that does it) but it doesn’t crease and it isn’t scratchy. It’s also available in chocolate brown and even though it is 100% wool and made in Britain, it costs the same as a jumper from Boden or Hush. So I’m going to urge you to go to Rachel’s site, have a look and support a fellow midlifechic reader.
I’ve also been thinking about a comment that Helen at Flaky Fashionista made on my blog last week. She said “isn’t there research somewhere that says, it is in their 40s that women make the most definitive and life-changing choices & decisions? This could become a very interesting discussion …” It certainly could – I’m just thinking about the risk that Rachel has taken in setting up her own business and others of you that I’m getting to know through the blog – Sharon who is now lecturing full-time in molecular biochemistry (which I find especially cool not having a clue about it), Nicola who has gone back to college this September to learn something new, Nicky who is thinking about uprooting and moving to a different part of the country… there are lots more of you. You’re all an inspiration. I think 40 something is a great age for a woman to be.
Happy weekend everyone
This weekend I’m continuing my tour of great Northern university towns with Manchester. As it is a city we know relatively well, the eldest and I have a plan – dive in, see the bits we need to see and then head to the shops. He’s a lovely shopping companion so I’m going to make the most of every minute of it, especially because he broke it to me gently last night that he’d like to put the money from his cancelled Iceland trip towards a rugby tour to South Africa that the school have just planned for August. This would mean that he won’t be coming on holiday with us…in the last summer before he goes to university. It’s too good an opportunity for me to let him pass it up but what was it I was saying about rugby being the bane of my life….!
Keep in touch – let me know if you’re another fabulous forty something contemplating a life-changing move, however big or small. Have a lovely weekend and I’ll be back on Tuesday with ‘Manc chic’!