I remember the countless times I moaned to my Mum back in the 80s, because friends had ‘copied’ me. They had bought the same ‘Frankie say’s Relax’ t-shirt, had the same bubble perm or wore the same lace glove on their right hand (I was a huge fan of Madonna in her ‘Dress you up’ phase at the time).
My Mum used to say ‘You should be flattered love, copying is a sign that people like what you do’. But, to a stroppy teenager that wasn’t any comfort – I wanted to feel original. It’s silly looking back. We all looked the same, like a herd of sheep following the latest fashion and really had no imagination of our own. The t-shirt that I’d bought from the local market for a couple of quid had been mass-produced and every teen in the country was sporting one. So who was copying who?
Fast forward 30 years and how times have changed. The whole ethos behind my business is encouraging people to imitate what I’ve done. Now I spend my days saying “Hey everyone! This is so easy – you can do it too. Let me show you how, let me inspire your creativity”.
I’m passionate about allowing people of all ages and abilities to be creative and have a go, explore, discover, contribute, experiment and take part. I don’t claim to be the only creative facilitator, there are plenty of people who offer similar activities to me and I don’t claim to be the best artist or designer either. But what I do want to ensure is that I inspire creativity. I want people to turn their views from ‘I was rubbish at art in school’ to ‘Wow! Look what I’ve made’. I want to flick a switch, spark an interest and unleash the inner creative goddess (or god) in people. It’s not even about the quality of the end product that concerns me, it’s that personal journey the participant embarks on as they go through the creative process. I love what I do and hope that I bring my own unique ‘Rachel Shilston twist’ to my brand.
As business owners, we are encouraged to be that ‘purple cow’, to make us stand out from the herd, but purple was never my colour, I prefer to be the hot pink one. You must be true to yourself and your brand, be that original, limited edition but remember, if you blaze a trail, you will be followed. There are lots of imitators throughout life. Just look at the fake, cheap copies of Rolex and Gucci that flood the marketplace. So yes, I’m not alone in what I do, there are plenty more creative facilitators, art teachers, crafty practitioners out there, but one thing’s for sure, there’s only one Rachel Shilston. And for that, I think my ever-supportive, patient husband, is thankful for.
He would argue that one of me is quite enough.