A self-confessed “born entrepreneur”, Belfast-based Rachel knew that the 9-5 office slog was never going to be for her.
She now works out of her workshop, in her garage in Belfast, and heads back to her parents’ garage in Lurgan when she needs to use the state-of-the-art laser cutter that helps her to create her delicate lace pattern perspex jewellery.
“On my degree course, we were allowed to explore new materials and I loved working with acrylic and polypropylene,” says Rachel, who makes the most of the possibilities offered by plastics in terms of playing with transparency and colour.
“I invested in the laser cutter so I could create the detailed lace patterns – which were actually inspired by paper doilies. But I’ve always loved contemporary interiors and so over the past two-and-a-half years I’ve also been developing my tableware range.”
After graduating with a degree in Fine and Applied Art at the University of Ulster in 2003, having specialised in jewellery, Rachel set up on her own the following year.
“I couldn’t wait to have my own business but after finishing my degree I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to start a business making jewellery. I took a job at an office but was so bored, I just wanted to be creative. I made a few pieces and went around shops to see if they’d stock them and I was lucky in that Copper Moon took the pieces straight away and placed an order.”
The 30-year-old’s detailed laser cut perspex bangles, in rich jewel colours, her necklaces, ear-rings and rings in synthetics and rubber and her new collection of napkin rings, coasters, placemats and striking 3D wall panels recently brought Rachel to international attention.
“I met so many interesting people from all over the world at the 100% Design show in London, and I was able to talk to hotel designers and shop owners.
“There have been so many highlights of 2010, but one of the best was going to the opening of the American Irish Historical Society exhibition in New York in October.”
As well as supplying shops and craft fairs, Rachel is on the committee of the Craft and Design Collective which runs Space Craft in Belfast.
“It’s been an amazing couple of years, I’ve loved every minute of it,” says Rachel.
You can find Rachel’s work in Space Craft in Belfast city centre’s Fountain Centre as well as the Ulster Museum gift shop; Memento on Causeway Street, Portrush and in the FE McWilliam Gallery in Banbridge.
For more info on Rachel’s work visit www.craftni.org/directory.
To shop online and pick up some of Rachel’s stunning pieces visit www.rachelmcknight.com