Accessories designer Rachael Ruddick spent over 15 years working for luxury brands before launching her namesake label. It was during this time where her roles ranged from managing the Australian arm of Christian Dior womenswear to the brand manager of Dom Perignon and Moet & Chandon, that she discovered a gap in the market. I knew there was a gap for a brand, working with stunning Australian leathers, but positioning it at a more attainable price point. I also felt there was a unique story in our beachside Australian origins, says Ruddick, who went on to launch her a namesake line of bags and jewellery in 2008, while she was pregnant with her daughter and still consulting to the LVMH group. When I had Charlotte I stopped consulting and the brand has continued to grow, she reflects.
Ruddick grew up in Launceston, Tasmania, and is now based in New York with her husband David and their seven-year-old daughter Charlotte (or CC as shes affectionately know). My husband continues to remind me of the time when we visited New York 10 years ago and I told him that one day I would love to live there, she says. Since that moment, the Ruddick family have lived everywhere from Sydney to London to Sao Paulo to New York. I love the diversity of the people in New York. The fact you can go to the worlds best museums any day of the week. New Yorkers celebrate four distinct seasons and the festive spirit thats instilled in the culture for every season is very special. Living in New York, its so very real, people are the most honest and upfront I have met. Its a melting pot, where people take you on face value. I love the fact that Charlotte is exposed to this, if for a moment in her life, she says. They might be settled in New York, but it looks like LA is next on the list. Work takes us to LA a lot, she says. We are currently bi-coastal. We are likely moving to LA in four months time and keeping a place in New York.
In the past five years, the Ruddick family has moved five times. As a family, I have pretty much decided we are adventurers. Our favourite moments in life surround travel, cultures and experiences, she says. At times, she admits the constant travel has also proved challenging. Ive worried about uprooting Charlotte five times in the last five years, she says. Following each move, I take the time to create a comforting home environment and find our niche. Its so important to me to ensure she is happy at school, masters a new routine and meets friends. She really has taken each move in her stride.
Ruddicks nomadic nature has meant that her brand has had significant success overseas. In 2012, her collection sold out within a matter of weeks in Londons Selfridges. Rachael Ruddick is now stocked in prestigious retailers around the world including Harrods, Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols and Lane Crawford.
On her personal style, Ruddick says shes relaxed a little since moving to New York. My style has evolved since living in New York, more so than when I became a mum. I find I rarely wear heels in New York and dressing is more casual, says Ruddick. On her favourite fashion labels, Stella McCartneys tailoring, T-shirts from Bassike and Kit Willows new Kit X collection are at the top of her list. And naturally, Rachael Ruddick accessories.
On what motherhood has taught her:
Feeling the most sacred love. How to be a great multi-tasker and also to relax about things beyond your control. To create a life environment so that our little girl has every opportunity to be the person she wants to be. Before I had Charlotte, I had a date in mind that I had to get everything done and ready. Its the best, greatest life changing experience. Time passes quickly, so cherish every moment. I love the joy everyday of being with such a special little person and sharing our life together and hoping, that I am in some way succeeding at being a good guide and friend to her. The hardest part of motherhood is being away from her.
On what her own mother taught her about motherhood:
To cherish family and to nurture and develop your childs passion, wherever their passion lies. My mother always worked and that instilled a sense of independence as well.
On her beauty and fitness regime:
The weather in the US means that my beauty routine changes dramatically with the seasons. I use a huge amount of Evian spray in the winter and NeoStrata skin care products. I also ensure I put on a Karuna Hydrating Mask once a week. In Summer I have started using Aveeno products, which are lanolin free and light with enough moisture. As I am getting older, I wear much less make up now and my aim is to look fresh, rather than made up. As for exercise, before having Charlotte (and starting my business at around the same time) I exercised a huge amount. Weights, walking and running were a consistent daily passion. I then stopped exercising for about four years. Last year, I started doing Soul Cycle in the mornings. It’s a 45 minute intense workout on spin bikes. A friend has also started Peloton, which is an at home bike class, so in LA I am looking forward to trying this out.
Its interesting as we have toured many schools in our various city relocations and Charlotte herself has told me when she feels that a school may be too progressive or lacking formality. She thrives on routine and structure. I am not saying that all children are happy with structure, but Charlotte certainly is. We try to have structure in our week day routine and I have set after school activities three times a week. We have just started a weekly allowance system whereby for completing a list of jobs each week, CC will get $3. We have three jars, one is marked save, one is marked spend, the last is marked give. Its her decision each week as to where her $3 goes.
On her label Rachael Ruddick:
We are always inspired by a retro resort aesthetic with pops of hardware and colour. The lines of our products are clean and timeless, always giving a nod in the hardware to our origins, whether its a baby horn or hook pendant, or our signature archway frame. In the next few months, we will be launching a candle and picture frame collection.
On the most challenging part of working in the fashion industry:
I believe there are so many ongoing changes as a result of social media, the frequency of deliveries and need for newness. Labels can be created overnight and its easy for people to develop an allure and aura of establishment, a strong aesthetic and following through online and social media. Secondly, the world is smaller than ever before and the consumer is able to shop anywhere at any time. Unless retail businesses evolve with the customer, offering a unique proposition they wont survive.
On starting her own business:
Plan, start small and do everything well, otherwise you can end up sacrificing a huge amount, spend endless hours multi-tasking, when at the end of the day, the most important thing in your life is your little bundle at home. Also remember, things dont always go to plan – as I write this sitting in the lounge at HKG airport, waiting for my delayed flight to get home! However, I love the flexibility running your own business brings. My life is an example of being able to work remotely and continue operating a business from anywhere in the world. I have a very supportive family member based in our Sydney office, which is a massive support. My time management tips are to develop structure around your weekdays and keep things simple.
On her home:
We have lived in our home for three years. Its on Mercer Street Soho and was the original New Museum Building. It was converted 12 years ago into a small building of condos. What attracted me to the apartment were the incredible 17ft ceilings, and large Italianate columns, which run throughout each floor. I particularly love our dining space. It has seen a lot of great dinner parties and friends over. The chairs are so comfortable and it is positioned next to our large windows facing Mercer St, there is so much light that streams in.
On her top 5 fashion essentials:
Converse walking shoes, Sergio Rossi black suede pumps, Frame boyfriend jeans, bassike white shirt, black jacket by Stella McCartney, fur from Harrods and a puffer from Moncler.
Rachaels little list of loves:
Winter in the Hudson Valley.
Summer in the Hamptons. We love the Mecox Field area in Bridgehampton for its green open space, hedges and proximity to the beach.
When in Sydney, walking down to Double Bay beach and park.
Sydney’s best breakfast is Three Blue Ducks, in our old neighbourhood of Bronte.
The best coffee we have discovered in NY is La Colombe. They were one of the early pioneers of direct coffee trade.
Over summer, visiting the old retro crab shacks along the Montauk Highway between Amagansett and Montauk.
Bridestowe Estate French Lavender farm, in Tasmania.
Boarding a Qantas A380 to fly to Sydney. There is such a great feeling and comfort to hear the Australian accent when you first board the plane.
British manners and tradition.
New Yorkers direct upfront attitude and optimism.
The stillness and quiet of New York City directly after a snowstorm.
Brazilians passion and colour. My favourite place to travel to is Rio.
The friends we have met on our travels and life overseas and those friendships we continue to cherish in Australia.
I am reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.
Photography: Caitlin Kelly Words: Georgie Abay
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