Rebecca Collect, founder of Rose Cottage Boxes, which makes a classic and contemporary collection of handmade, French Découpage 'useful' wooden boxes.
To say that Rebecca Collect, the brains behind Rose Cottage Boxes, was creative from an early age would almost be an understatement. As an only child, she spent a lot of time entertaining herself and says: ‘I could easily be sat up at five in the morning in my bed as a seven-year-old drawing and designing the perfect house and where all the lovely things would fit into it! So I guess I just always knew my life would go that way because it was what I enjoyed more than anything.
Rebecca’s upbringing in the beautiful open countryside of Salisbury Plain was the perfect inspiration for her to explore and develop both her creative skills and her imagination, as was watching her hard-working parents, who were both self employed.
After doing a degree in creative arts, Rebecca spent some time as a buyer for a well-known British retailer but didn’t enjoy the ruthless side of the business world. ‘I found it very cut throat, so eventually found myself managing a gallery and selling my own fine art paintings around the country. This was all invaluable experience learning much about business.’
There are good times to give in to the entrepreneurial itch, and not such good times, and Rebecca admits that starting up her business in the middle of a recession and only a few months before finding out she was pregnant with her second child might be perceived as ‘bonkers’ but she credits a strong support network in helping it happen.
‘I would never have been able to continue with out the incredible support from my partner, Adrian, and his family and my good friends,’ she says.
This support is never more important that when exhibiting. ‘We all come together as a family rallying round for each other. I miss my children but I have a great deal of fun even though I’m working hard while I'm away.
‘Exhibiting enables me to get my boxes seen by a wider audience, particularly in London,’ Rebecca says. ‘It’s a chance for visitors to be able to touch the product or to ask me questions, to soak up the ambience of so many beautiful things at the fair. Many customers return hoping to see Rose Cottage Boxes as they have bought before and have a collection or are buying as a gift for a loved one. I also adore talking and laughing with the general public and the other traders, its great fun and you never know who you may meet.’
Rebecca’s passion and commitment has paid off and the company has had orders from, amongst others, the Duchy of Cornwall, St James Palace and celebrities as well as won Best New Product Award at the Country Living Christmas Fair.
Of course she has the same work/life balance issues as any other working parent – complicated somewhat by the addition of keeping a horse – but says: ‘Rose Cottage Boxes has grown very organically and I have not compromised the importance of time with my children in their early pre-school years. Their wellbeing is always paramount. Working from home enables me to balance time accordingly. My youngest will be starting school in September, I will miss him terribly as he is my right-hand man but I guess things will change for the business then as more time will be given to me. More time, more exposure!
‘A day at a time, an idea at a time, finding ways to make it grow are all part of living an interesting life. I shall carry on and see where it leads.’
|Rose Cottage Boxes designs include everything, from a wide range of fabulous floral papers encompassing a hand-painted look to Liberty-esque, as well as its highly popular birds, retro and kitsch genres. It regularly features themes of feminine, exotic, funky and vintage, with hearts and bright Moroccan inspired patterns. Hand-made in Somerset, each box is effortlessly pretty and beautiful on the outside and is stunningly complemented by its hand-painted interior in one of many sweetie-shop colours. Rebecca’s favourite designs are the geometrical patterns, the Auricular and The Blue Tit and she says ‘I have more designs coming for the Spring so watch this space!’|
Keeping it Green
All the wood for the boxes is from renewable sources and the paints and varnish Rebecca uses are waterbased, the papers 90% recycled and the inks used on the papers are mainly chlorine free with vegetable dyes used in the printing process.