I’m ashamed to admit it but it has been years since I stepped foot in a gallery. Until two weeks ago that is and I’m rather pleased to say that I’ve since been to two exhibitions in as many weeks. And as I walked around these incredibly well curated shows, each one exhibiting a vast range of styles and skills, one major (and slightly depressing) realisation struck me- I have almost forgotten the joy to be had in being creative simply for the pleasure of the process.

I was about four when this photo was taken, but it could’ve been taken a million times over, because as a child I was never without paintbrush, pencil or crayon in hand, making mess at the kitchen table. Despite the earnest look in this particular shot (evidently the creative process had been disturbed!), whenever I was painting, drawing or making I was happy. I didn’t care what the end result looked like or whether my siblings or parents would like it, I knew it was good because I’d just had an awesome time creating it and in that moment, that’s all that mattered.

Skip forward forty years when I was recently suffering from the design equivalent of writer’s block, with a good old dose of imposter syndrome thrown in for good measure. I’d just relaunched the brand, was working on new Autumn Winter designs and I was struggling.  A wonderful coach I work with asked me, ‘what would you draw if you were just doing it for the love?’, and I tell you something- that sentence really reasonated. I promptly booked a few days out of my day to day space, took a large sketch book (and equally large coffee), and spent them sketching with this phrase at the forefront of my mind. (I’m pretty pleased with the results and can’t wait to launch them later in the year).

My point is, when did it all become so serious? I originally started the brand simply because I love designing shoes and wanted to do my own thing, and brought that wonderful naivety along for the ride. Having previously spent several years in the commercial footwear sector, it was a joy not to pay any attention to what other brands were doing, or have to justify my every pen line with other brands who were leading this trend or that. I loved that first collection and several of those styles stayed in the range for well over ten years.

Having the pleasure of visiting first The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and then the Icons of British Fashion exhibition at Blenheim Palace (both of which I highly recommend), I found myself surrounded by people doing their own thing. Painters and sculptors, photographs and designers who believe in their art, trust their passion and are creating absolutely joyful masterpieces as a result. It reminded me of doing my foundation year at art college, before the pressures of commerciality kicked in. We did everything from big, bold charcoal sketches to glass work and crazy ceramics and I have such fond memories of that time.

Don’t get me wrong, to run a successful business creativity has to go hand in hand with commerciality, but that’s precisely my point. For so many years I’ve let commerciality have the bigger voice and actually become a bit of a bully, whilst lovely little creativity sits stifled and apologetic in the corner. Visiting these exhibitions whilst spending time with wonderful and creative friends and family, reminded me that it’s okay to simply be creative for the process of being creative. To trust yourself. To take the time to feed your inspiration. To not be so busy stressing about the success of the end result that you squash any enjoyment you might have originally found in that process. Because ironically it’s precisely when you do this and let go of all those worries that the most wonderful creativity turns up- just ask that messy four year old with the big hair.

Rachel xx

(Just for a laugh here's another photo of me around that age- this time heading up my first retail operation (thanks to my amazing mum & dad who made the shop!). Demonstrating creativity with commerciality from the start, evidently ;)