Rachel McKnight, born in Craigavon, studied at The University of Ulster in Belfast. Having graduated in 2003 with a BA(Hons) in Fine and Applied Art specialising in jewellery, Rachel set up her workshop at her parent’s home in Lurgan. She now works from home in Belfast and produces jewellery and home ware from plastics and silver. The excitement of sourcing new materials and the experimentation with them inspires her to produce original and innovative work. Transparent and opaque colour influences her designs, plastics allow her to explore this. Simple and uncomplicated shapes and the idea of duplicating these shapes also form the basis for Rachel’s work.
We interviewed Rachel about her products and business and here's what she said:
What materials do you use for your products and how did you decide upon these?
I work with perspex, acrylic, polypropylene and polyurethane resin, predominantly. When I was doing my degree we were encouraged to experiment and explore new materials and it was here that I discovered my love for plastics. The colours were wonderful and they had so many manufacturing possibilities.
How do you balance creativity with being more commercial?
It’s hard to get a perfect balance. I have a few different product ranges. I have a small batch production range of jewellery and coasters, which is generally made to order and I sell this to shops and directly through my website or at craft fairs. I also make large scale sculptural jewellery for galleries and exhibitions. This is where I get to express my real creative side. These pieces tend to be one-off pieces and I get to spend a lot more creative time with them.
What are tips you would give to designers looking to get their products in stores?
Make sure your products are costed properly and fairly for you and your retailer.
Set your own terms of trading. What are your lead times? Do you have a minimum order? Do you offer free delivery over a certain amount ordered?
Do pro-forma invoicing for the first order of any new customer and don’t start working on the order until the order has been paid for. You can then move to 14 days or 30 days for the next orders.