Dream Catcher: Rachael Warner

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Rachael Warner grew up as part of a third-generation farming family in North Dakota. Her passions for art and music led her to NYC and London, where she became an independent photographer specializing in music and fashion. Her career took a detour when a crochet project for friends and family grabbed the attention of strangers, one of whom even insisted on buying the scarf Rachael was wearing while walking through the city. Seizing the moment, she launched Spratters & Jayne, a cold weather accessories brand that is exclusively handcrafted and ethically sourced. What started as a passion project is now her primary focus.The current collection features over 40 styles in Alpaca, Synthetics, and Wool, and is sold online, in boutiques and department stores from NYC to Tokyo, and at specialty seasonal markets.

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When did you know you wanted to pursue your business or venture? It was 2009. It’s a classic case of stumbling into something. I’d made some exaggerated cowls and gave them away to friends and family. Everyone who had one said that they kept getting stopped and asked where it came from. That really got me thinking, so shortly after I started making them for sale.

Did your original business plan change along the way or are you doing exactly what you set out to do? If it changed, how so? This is a big change. I’d been working as an independent photographer before starting Spratters & Jayne. I went from photographing musicians and fashion to making fashion that’s heavily influenced by music. In business and art, you have to be open to these cycles of creating and destroying.

What makes you different from your competition? Attention to detail, uncompromising quality, and our unique aesthetic. We also made the decision early on to ethically source everything we do.

Tell us about a time when you thought you should throw in the towel. What kept you going? Wholesaling became more difficult after the recession hit. We had to retool our business model for a greater emphasis on direct retail. I kept going because I believed in my designs, how they’re produced as well as the efforts and collective sacrifices that had gotten us as far as we’d come. Reinventing our sales strategy was nothing compared to losing everything we’d fought so hard to achieve.

What three factors have most contributed to your success in business and in life? Persistence, hard work, and a truly great support network.

If you could have a one-on-one meeting with any woman, who would it be and why? What’s the first thing you would you ask her? My grandmother, Violet.  I would ask her how she found enough hours in the day to achieve all the incredible things she did in her life. She was truly an inspiration.

I wish someone had told me… That for every one challenge you can see coming there are often two more that you don’t expect. Still it’s worth every bit of it.

I gave up ____ to pursue my dream: Safety.

My biggest challenge is… Finding enough hours in the day, week, year, etc!

My proudest professional moment to date is… My first order!

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The three words that best describe me are… Determined, passionate, and unconventional.

While on vacation I always… Take alone time to fully relax or spend time with friends to load up on experiences I’ll always enjoy looking back on.

My beauty routine consists of… Exfoliation, enzyme peels, sunblock, and 8 hours of sleep per night. I also always make sure to wear a very moisturizing night treatment.

On my playlist right now you will find… Wire, Love & Rockets, Tame Impala, Lansing-Dreiden, Panda Bear, MNDR and Siouxsie & The Banshees. Also lots of classical – Brahms, Bela Bartok, and Chopin. Classical music is wonderful to design to.

My tips for eating healthy during the workday are… Pre-plan your meals. Avoid processed foods, no sugar other than fruit and alcohol in moderation. I bring all of my food with me and make sure to eat small portions throughout the day.

My favorite type of workout is… Cardio! 30 minutes of revolving-steps StairMaster, 1000 meters on the rowing machine, and running for a mile. I also like circuit training and pilates.

A teacher or boss who influenced me is… My former boss at Comedy Central, who is now the GM. She showed me that you can be a great person, treat people with respect and kindness, and succeed as a woman with grace and hard work.

I rejuvenate by… Going to traditional Russian, Turkish, or Asian saunas here in NYC, as well as just taking time to be alone with my thoughts.

Lately I’m inspired by… I’m inspired by bold colors and prints, 70’s Biba, Roycroft and Art Noveau.

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Tell us what LIVING THE DREAM means to you: Living the dream means making beautiful things in a sustainable and ethical way. I enjoy bringing happiness and warmth to people as well as opportunities to skilled artisans throughout the world to help them better their lives. It also means to live life to the fullest and be able to work on my terms, see a collection realized as a result of the hard work of many, and give back to my community and the world at large.


Want to connect with Rachael?

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Image: [Daniel Garza + Ivonne Loyola Jonathan Hokklo + Lance Lankford + Rachael Warner]


Copy Editor: Noelle Hale is a writer/editor/proofreader/wordsmith who in a former life was a lawyer and senior sales executive for legal research and education companies. She has known Nada Jones for 20 years and one of their first collaborations was the ill-advised completion of the LA Marathon without actually having trained for it first. After many wonderful years spent living and working in New York and Los Angeles, Noelle and her husband and their two children are now happily ensconced in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado.

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