It was an absolute pleasure to catch up with the truly inspiring Rae Feather – eponymous founder of the luxurious brand of beautifully woven, monogrammed basket bags, hand-painted accessories, clothing and homeware. Originally from Northern Ireland, Rae has lived in England for over thirty years, and after a long career in marketing she decided to develop her own luxury business in 2013. Here she tells us why she founded Rae Feather, how she juggles a family of three boys alongside work pressures, and what she’ll take to a desert island, together with a few travel and beauty tips.
Tell us about Rae Feather – your motivation and how it all began?
Rae Feather launched in 2013. I felt there was a void in the market for great, affordable, good quality, core pieces that become wardrobe staples. I loved cottons and comfortable flattering shapes. This is carried through in our beachwear collection, and the accessories collection was created to compliment them.
The range at Rae Feather is beautifully crafted, luxurious and immense – was there a particular product or products right at the beginning that inspired you to develop the company?
Yes for sure the baskets. Taking something so natural, that has existed for centuries, and elevating it to the ‘It Bag’ of the summer a few years ago. I love all things natural and I try my best to carry this throughout the collection.
Do you think age still influences fashion and accessory choices for midlife women or are we becoming bolder with more choice for individual style?
I think for sure there are boundaries that should not be crossed. I think it’s important to adhere to those –bare midriffs in late 50s might not be the best look! That’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. The most important thing is to feel comfortable in what you are wearing. That in turn results in better self-confidence, which is key.
Your own personal style – High Street or Vintage?
Definitely a mix. Some of my clothes are so old, they could be vintage. I’m quite good at mixing it up.
Hardest challenge – particularly as a woman in business – that you’ve had to overcome?
I think it might be the emotional side of things. I am very emotional – I cry, I can rant, I can be over sensitive, but I can also be strong. I think there is a perception that as business women we are meant to be unemotional. Almost stoic. This is challenging but at the same time why should we hide our true feelings? That’s not being true to ourselves or anyone else.
If you could go back, what would be the one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
Worrying solves nothing. It’s a waste of time.
How do you manage to balance the business and a hectic family life with three boys?
I have been so lucky with my kids. They totally respect my work and the challenges that go with being a working mother. They fall into line very quickly if it gets too much. They know because I go very quiet. They know they are my number one priority and work comes second.
My parents have a house in Portugal that is pretty special. We have had the most incredible family times there. I also love Italy. I visited Florence a few weeks ago and fell in love with it.
Desert Island top disc, book and luxury item?
Billy Paul’s version of Elton John’s ‘Your song’. Play it loud and dance. My fav book of all time has to be ‘The Kite Runner’ –it stayed with me for months. Rare Vintage Louis Vuitton –I buy from Vestiaire and have found some incredible pieces!
What are your absolutely ‘cannot be without’ suitcase essentials when you’re travelling?
Moisturiser –I have really dry skin and often have to apply three to four times a day. My dermatologist has a secret potion that is her secret recipe. It’s changed my skin. A Rae Feather fold away bag. My current fav is The Rae Tote. It’s chic, lightweight and works
Top beauty ‘must have’ in your makeup bag – and best travelling beauty tip?
Studio 10 Age Repair Perfect Canvas Foundation. I have used it for around five years and literally cannot live without it. Also Mascara. Post children my eye lashes fell out and they haven’t really grown back fully so mascara saves the day every day.
And finally – your favourite quote?
‘Kill em with Kindness’ –rarely fails! I have a picture of this at my back door to remind me and my boys as we exit and enter!