I remember the initial wave of the Shabby Chic obsession. Suddenly, everywhere you looked there were Rachel Ashwell books, achingly beautiful distressed chests and French linens that could make you weak at the knees. Her signature blend of cozy, casual & feminine finds were everywhere. Oprah, E!, magazines, shows... it was Rachel Ashwell fever and no one was immune to catching it.
The epic white slipcovered obsession seemed to begin with Hollywood's elite and land somewhere in middle America. Everyone was hooked and longed for her flea market finds and lovingly restored furnishings. And then... it ended as soon as it began.
At the time I was unaware of the heartache this single mother endured as she watched her Santa Monica boutique (as well as the others scattered about the country) and her fanciful empire of matelassé and vintage French chandeliers crumble.
Rachel's business and her brand were wildly popular and successful. Celebrities and the fans who loved them couldn't get enough of her signature style. But when investors joined her business and pushed her too expand too rapidly and steer her away from what she knew instinctively her clients wanted - bankruptcy was imminent.
In The World of Shabby Chic, Rachel reveals her private perspective on what many saw as a public failure. As happens so often with great championships, "failure" was just a speed bump on her path to massive success.
The true story of Rachel Ashwell is so deeply inspiring. Undeterred by what others might have seen as the end, Rachel seized the moment at the end of one era to bring her business back in line with her original vision. The broad, homogenous vision those investors held of Shabby Chic was gone. Yet Rachel's smaller, hand-selected, approachable brand and design ethos were what the public at large still yearned for.
Back with a vigor, Rachel came back. Shabby Chic reemerged at the intimate scale as it was intended - back to the marketplace. From that pivotal moment on, Rachel has led the brand her way - not letting outside investors interfere with what her instincts assure her is right.
I would be difficult to articulate the impact this story holds me right now. What seemed like the end of her brand in 2009 with the shuttering of numerous boutiques and the loss of jobs for her 200 employees, turned around and brought Rachel renewed focus, restored vision and a thriving business. Her own business. One that holds true to her creative vision and the special touches she intuitively knows to be authentic.
Fair warning: you might read this book and feel a burning desire to hit up your local flea market in hopes of scoring your own spectacular finds. You might also find yourself longing to visit her original Santa Monica boutique. I certainly have (although I've done the flea market thing and always come up dry!).
I was a big fan of Rachel's inviting aesthetic prior to reading this lovely book. Now that I know the story behind the brand I am a huge champion of hers personally. In addition to going into detail about her professional and personal journey to success, Rachel shares plenty of beautiful imagery in this book. The World of Shabby Chic is inspiring, elegant and easy on the eyes. Effortless rooms beg you to settle in and cozy up with a book, a friend, a daughter or a spare moment. This substantial book will deliver Inspiration of every sort from cover to glorious cover whether you're a reader, a picture lover or a biography fan.
Consider this a fabulous gift recommendation for that special someone on your list. If you need a nudge of encouragement to forge on, to trust your own instincts and to follow what you know to be true, Rachel Ashwell's personal story is high on my suggestion list. For those of you who just want a book filled with pretty images, add this to your coffee table immediately.
Now... I'm off to to do some measuring for slipcovers and quite possibly transform my living room and my life in one fell swoop. Consider me quite inspired.
DIG INTO RACHEL'S SHABBY CHIC WORLD
BRINGING THAT SHABBY CHIC FEELING HOME
Hungry for authentic Shabby Chic brand furniture for your home? If, like me, you're not near the flagship showroom or one of the other boutiques, pop over to One Kings Lane quickly and snag some authentic Rachel Ashwell pieces for much less than retail. But don't delay, those babies will be gone before you know it!