Spotlight On:

Rachel Restores Retro

One of the things that we love about the crafting industry is that it offers such varied creativity. From woodturning and crocheting to baking and textiles, there is plenty to choose from.


If you have read our Spotlights before, you will probably have noticed that we love upcycling. And when we came across Rachel Restores Retro, we knew that we needed to get her involved.

The face behind this craft business is Rachel; a current student at St. Andrews University. Her main aim is to produce “unique, one-off pieces of jewellery by upcycling antique and vintage pieces” as well as “anything else” she can find.

She first set up her business when on a gap year from university. “I’d had quite a tough year and decided I needed to take a step back, and crafting became something that just filled my time.”

“Before I knew it, I had so many jewellery pieces and at that time cards too, that I had no idea what to do with them, so I decided to try selling.”

What excites Rachel most about vintage items and collectables is the history behind them. “A lot of my work is researching the things I use to find out who made them, when, and what they were used for.”

“I think it’s great being able to find something that has been well used, then forgotten about over time, and then turning it into something different, something new, and giving it a new life.”

We were impressed with the vast selection of items that Rachel upcycles and, in the past, has made jewellery with sea glass, buttons and even spoons! She told us that she can upcycles “all sorts” of things.

“I particularly love using cutlery because you can find so many amazing designs on old teaspoons and such, but I use vintage belt buckles, old watches and watch parts, odd earrings or parts of necklaces. I’ve recently used an old mechanical joint piece as part of a pendant!”

When you look at the products available on Rachel Restores Retro there is no doubt she is extremely talented and creative. We asked where she gets her inspiration from and she told us: “I think my greatest ‘inspiration’ comes from constantly asking myself ‘what could I do with this?’ or ‘what happens if I do this?’”

“It can be a challenge because I’m constantly pushing myself to think outside of the box with all my items, really questioning whether this needs to stay the same or could I take things apart to use them in a different way, always taking various items that wouldn’t normally go together and seeing if they can work, such as cutlery with sea-glass or a belt piece with a cabochon.”

“It’s difficult to keep reminding myself that because someone hasn’t done it before, doesn’t mean it’s going to fail.”

Most of the products that Rachel makes are unique, meaning that no one else in the world will have the same piece of jewellery as you! “The majority of my pieces are unique if for no other reason that I don’t tend to get the same items twice to use with.”

“Saying that, I love knowing that I make individual items, and knowing that only one person will have that one item.”

“I have on occasion made the same thing more than once; a have a set of seven pendants made from a set of vintage cutlery. They’ve got a stunning glass floral design on them and I just thought that they stood out enough on their own, so all were made into the same type of pendant.”

Rachel is also happy to do custom-made orders if you have something in mind. “Although I’ve only had a few custom orders so far, it’s a great honour for me to receive something from someone that means enough to them that they want to keep it and gives me a new creative challenge.”

Most crafters will understand the challenge of competing with big retail stores and Rachel is very passionate about people supporting local businesses instead. “I could go into great detail about this subject because I really do believe it is vital we support our local businesses!”

“I personally feel that too much power goes to large companies these days; supporting local businesses means that you’re taking some of that power away from them and giving it to people, to individuals, who really need it.”

“Supporting local businesses means you’re not giving the money to big businesses for someone at the very top to buy yet another fancy car, instead it means that the money is going directly to someone to help pay for day to day living.”

“The money I make from my business puts me through university. For others, it allows people to pay their bills, to attend music lessons, to make purchases through other small businesses and so in turn support them!”

“That’s why I think the ‘Just A Card’ campaign is so important because it’s getting the message out there that just a card is all it takes to support a small business, a real person, instead of feeding a large corporation.”

When she isn’t making and selling, Rachel also enjoys music, especially classical. “I actually currently sing in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus which is a huge honour, even if it does mean travelling to Glasgow every week from the other end of the country! I’ve sung in choirs since I was young, so singing means a lot to me, and I love the thrill of doing performances.”

“Aside from music, I am a huge fan of Sci-Fi shows such as Doctor Who and the Original (and Next Generation) Star Trek, and a bit of a crazy cat lady! Fern is my British Shorthair cat, and she is the cutest thing you will ever meet, but I’m in no way biased of course!

Rachel has a bright future to look forward to, with a Neuroscience degree on the horizon. “I’m hoping that my degree will lead to a job in research, although specifically what type of research I’m not quite sure of yet!”

“No matter what though, I have truly fallen in love with crafting and upcycling and love the challenges that come with it, so I very much intend to keep my business going well into the future.”

As we came to the end of the interview, we had one more question to ask: whether craft businesses like her own are aware that they need insurance. She told us: “I think that when you’re building a small business from a hobby, it can be easy to get carried away with the joy of making things and then selling them, and certainly not realise that there is a serious side to owning a business too.”

“Insurance is something I would always recommend. Even just doing jewellery, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, because you never know what might happen and it’s soul destroying enough if something goes wrong, let alone having to then worry about the costs on top of that.”

We would like to say a big thank you to Rachel from taking part in our latest Crafter in the Spotlight. If you want to check out the amazing upcycled items that she makes, head over to her Etsy store.