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Meet Coop Knits Owner - Rachel Coopey

Woollen Designs

Next up on our blog is an interview with the Queen of woollen designs, Rachel Coopey from Coop Knits. It’s number seven in our series which will be released throughout 2018. This series is all about showcasing some of the amazing women who have supported, inspired and been part of Saloukee’s 10 year story in business.

Today we are speaking with Rachel who is best known for creating her own contemporary knitting and crochet sock patterns. She now also has her own range of knitting yarn too called Socks Yeah.

Our month seven showcase is all about iron as this is the material which marks the seventh wedding anniversary. This year for us is all about celebrating our 1-10 years in business.  So during September, I will also be making woollen designs of our own, in jewellery form. Plus recommending other brilliant independents who work in the same medium.

Woollen Designs Rachel Coopey

The Background

How did you and Sarah first meet?

We spent a lot time together when we were in the same AS level Jewellery class at Sixth Form College.

What are you doing at this stage in your career?

I’m a knitwear designer in the hand knitting industry. After my A levels I went to Birmingham School of Jewellery to do a HND. I went from there to a job in the design department of a manufacturer in the Jewellery Quarter.

Following having a child, I could not commute to Birmingham anymore and I took office jobs closer to home. I was knitting in my spare time and I started to write my own patterns. There are a lot of skills I found I could transfer from jewellery design to knitwear design. The pieces I design are small – socks, hats, mittens. Now I have self published 5 books of patterns and most recently I have designed my own line of knitting yarns.

What’s your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Publishing my first book. I learned a lot along the way and had help from a lot of great people, there was a week where I was sure I was going to die of stress but I made it through and I was incredibly proud!

Is there one piece of advice that you would give to someone thinking of starting their own creative business?

Believe in yourself and go for it! On the totally practical side – open a business bank account and keep things separate from the start. It will save A LOT of time and effort when you are trying to do your accounts.

Women In Business

How has running your business changed in the time you’ve been involved in the industry?

I started out producing digital pattern and working for magazines. Then I moved in to publishing physical books and selling my yarn directly to customers and through yarn shops around the world. I have learned to focus my time on what I good at and find solutions for the things I am not.
It’s very hard to do everything and I think it’s well worth considering how much your time is worth. It could be that you could pay an expert who can do a certain thing much quicker than you could do it. You could be doing something that will drive your business forward with the time you save.
Woollen Designs Knitted Hat
Can you name a female role model (alive/dead) that you believe future generations should know about?
I remember someone coming in to my school and talking about Marie Curie, it really resonated with me. It is so, so important for everyone to see female role models in areas that have been traditionally dominated by men. The whole ‘I cannot be what I cannot see’ is really important, representation matters.
Woollen Designs Coops Knits
What’s your favourite material to work with and are there any you’d still love to explore?
I love wool, it’s tactile and warm. Woollen designs have a natural memory to them, so they’re great for knitting socks that won’t fall down! I’d like to do some more knitting with plant based fibres. Also, I’d like to knit some summer tops in linen blends. I’ve seen some interesting yarns using natural bamboo and nettle fibres recently. I have been thinking a lot about going back to the bench lately, I’d love to find some time and space to work with metal again.

Real Life Stuff

What’s one thing that creativity has taught you about life?

Sometimes things don’t go the way you think they will. Sometimes you start a design and it goes in an unexpected direction and that’s ok! I was a jewellery designer when I left college and now I work in a totally different industry. I don’t think I could have ever envisaged the path I took but I’m glad I did!

Woollen Designs Precious Objects

What’s the most sentimental object that you own and why?

I had a pendant my Grandad made, he used to polish stones and glued them to fittings. I’ve also got a collection of opals that were his, they mean a lot. Making jewellery was one of my grandads hobbies and knitting was my grandmas – I’m a like a mash-up of both their creative sides.

What does priceless mean to you?

Things that can’t be replaced – time spent with people I love. Things I made at a particular time so they remind me every time I see them.

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