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Best of 2018: The Tale Of Rachel Castle



“Every Sunday I spend the morning in bed. I watch TV, drink coffee, snuggle the dog, sew, snooze. Anyone is welcome to join me but I am not getting out of bed before 11. I can’t remember the last Sunday morning not spent in bed.” Rachel Castle’s idea of self-love is certainly a concept we can get behind - who doesn’t love a Sunday lie-in? - which is why it isn’t surprising to find that this Mother’s Day, she’s expecting a morning in bed doing what she loves with the people she loves. “Clean bed linen, all neat and tidy, dog, Netflix, sunlight, coffee, toast”…

The vibrant artist and mother of two has gained a cult following thanks to her highly sought-after paintings, embroideries and bed linen, which somehow combine a sense of whimsy with a level of detail that has to be seen to be believed. If you’re a follower on Instagram (and we sure suggest you do!), you’ll also notice Rachel has a hilarious take on motherhood that blends humour with an intense, unbridled amount of love – so learning that she put her career on hold when her kids were little is no surprise. “Like most things in life, the hardest things are the most rewarding. The dynamics of staying at home with your children when you’ve been out working I found really quite tricky to navigate at first… I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but I would always choose to stay at home with little ones, they were heaven.”

We stepped inside the inspiringly beautiful home of Rachel and her family to talk teenagers, how she combines a creative mind with a thriving business, and why laughing at yourself and switching off from social media really are the simplest and best ways to stay happy.

Photography: Julie Adams | Videographer: Sam Hastwell | Hair and makeup: Yolanda Lukowski | Words: Marisa Remond | Go to www.castleandthings.com.au | In association with Sportscraft


WATCH OUR BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO WITH RACHEL CASTLE


SHOP: Rachel wears Sportscraft Cherry Knit, $179.99


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If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your seven-year-old self?

It’s not a bad thing to ask for what you want. I spend a lot of time trying to work out specifically and explicitly the things I want and need, rather than the ones I don’t. It’s super easy to complain about the stuff you don’t like, but I try hard to ask nicely and clearly for the things I do like.


We’re often rushing. Do you ever sit back and feel proud of yourself?

I have to say I am proudest when I sit at the dinner table with my children and they are nice to one another. The older they get, the better they get along, and I am so relieved and proud to see it. I also get a glorious inner glow when they make me laugh, the funnier and more perceptive they are, the prouder I am. Work is work. They, however, are by far my proudest life loves.


How do you approach self-love?

Every Sunday I spend the morning in bed. I watch TV, drink coffee, snuggle the dog, sew, snooze. Anyone is welcome to join me but I am not getting out of bed before 11am. I can’t remember the last Sunday morning not spent in bed.


You focused on motherhood for six years – did you enjoy being a full-time mother? How old were your children then?

Like most things in life, the hardest things are the most rewarding. The dynamics of staying at home with your children when you’ve been out working I found really quite tricky to navigate at first. There are so many new roles, mother, wife, homemaker, that are redefined when you decide to stay at home and it took me, and my husband, a while to adjust. All the energy you take to the workplace isn’t dissolved wiping benches and taking trips to the library, so I did struggle with where to ‘put it all’ for a bit. In the end, I just started making things at home, just little stuff, sewing and drawing things when the children were asleep, it meant my time with them was about them, and my little time to myself was for me.


What has been the most challenging stage of motherhood for you?

Certainly the early days. I am a big sleeper, no sleep nearly killed me, it really nearly did. I remember one day very early on crying to my husband saying ‘we haven’t held hands for months, all we ever do is carry all the ‘stuff’’ – sorry Cleo!


Do your children need you more or less now they’re a little older?

The children need to know you are accessible and that you’re going to be consistent and fair with their rules. Navigating bed times, study times, curfews for different nights and times of the year, phone time, what they eat, their pocket money, what extra curricular activities they do and don’t have time for, their schoolwork and how they apply themselves, or not, how they treat one another, and how they treat us, feeding the dog, doing chores, borrowing the car, where we go on holidays, the list of decisions you need to make for them, and make sure they adhere to, and agree to, is lengthy. So they need less of your time, but they do need more ‘emotional parenting’ for absolute sure. And when they actually become smarter than you, and more effective at arguing coherently, you’re screwed. You need a very good full night’s sleep to tackle what time your 16-year-old is allowed home and how and why on a Saturday night during exams.


What did working for other people teach you?

Best practice. How to write a good email, how to treat clients and suppliers and the people you work with well, how to housekeep, how to run things smoothly and fairly, when to fight and when to give a little.


You started your homewares brand CASTLE in your late thirties. What are the highs and lows of running your own business?

Working for myself means we do exactly what I want when I want to do it. That’s a high, and I spend a lot of time making sure that what I do workwise, works for me. Running your own business without a partner though can be lonely. Luckily I have a load of friends in the industry and this helps for sure, but always being the one to make all the final decisions can suck at times.


How did your approach to your career change after you had kids?

I worked for the first year after Cleo was born. It was awful. I felt like I was a bad mother, a bad wife, and a bad worker. It just didn’t work for me. So whatever work I did when the children were small had to happen when they were either at asleep or at school. It was a very simple equation, a tiring one, but an easy one.


Describe the mind of a creative?

My mother my whole life has always said ‘you are so heavenly minded you’re of no earthly use’. Thanks, I think she means it kindly though. I lose everything, all the time, everywhere. I forget everything, including the time, my keys, my phone, my glasses, my car, plane tickets, passports, everything. I try so hard to remember but today I am thinking what should I do for Easter? I might make I LOVE YOU HONEY BUNNY in felt, yeah that will work, that’s good, better get onto that, and then suddenly I’ve lost the dog and I’m in all sorts of trouble, again.


What makes you feel happy and fulfilled?

Dinner time. All my peeps, making me laugh, talking sometimes fighting, eating… I love watching us all grow up at the dinner table from Sunday – Thursday.


How do you deal with moments of self-doubt?

I go underground. I turn off all social media, I don’t read anything or talk to anyone, I just listen to my music and decide what I like, rather than what I think other people will like. That fixes everything.


What are your mum hacks?

I leave for work super early, I get there never later than 7am. My husband does the mornings, and so night times I am a fun mum – who wants to watch Bachelor in Paradise, kids?


What do you do when it all gets too much?

I sleep. At work, at home, in the car. Sleep is my tonic, it fixes everything for me.


How do you procrastinate?

I simply pick up my phone, I could amuse myself for a lifetime there. I am trying to leave it in the car for the morning these days just so I’m not tempted to look at it.


Favourite TV show right now?

Ray Donovan because in my next life I’m coming back as Mickey. I love that guy so much.


Coffee or tea?

Both.


Do you meditate?

No. I don’t exercise either, I don’t like it, I’ve tried so hard to like it but I don’t, I’m so sorry, but sucked in to me, my body shows it!


What do you prioritise and what do you let slide in life?

When I stayed at home, my home was immaculate, still cluttered but immaculate. These days it is cleaned once a week, and inbetween I really don’t mind what goes where. Within reason. I am prone to go off the handle when ALL THE TOWELS in the house are on my daughter’s bedroom floor, or when my son leaves his pot noodle leftovers low enough for the dog to eat. I do draw the line there.


Go-to fashion essentials – what will we find you wearing most days?

Jeans and T-shirt for work. And dresses for the weekend. I love dresses, one easy step.


What’s your life motto?

Please don’t take yourself too seriously. All my favourite people can laugh heartily at themselves.


How will you be spending Mother’s Day this year?

In bed in the morning with my peeps hopefully tending to all my whims. Clean bed linen (all neat and tidy), dog, Netflix, sunlight, coffee and toast.


Talk us through your home...

I have to say I love the dining area. We have a big table and we’ve had it since the children were small. It has seen so many good times, family and friends old and new, people have danced on it, and cried at it, and laughed at it, we’ve signed birth certificates and power of attorneys at it, read books, played games, done years of homework at it and I started my business on it. It’s one special piece of wood for us!


What does 2018 hold for CASTLE?

This year is important for our family as it’s the last Cleo will spend at home. It’s the last year the four of us will cohabit, so it’s important and bittersweet and very poignant for me. Gah, cry.


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