Creativity to make you happy

Crafty Critters: Oh No Rachio

I'm so pleased to say that this month's Crafty Critters interview is with the lovely Rachel Basinger of Oh No Rachio (@onrshop). Rachel sells a wide range of products including greetings cards, prints, enamel pins, illustrated plates, planters... the list goes on! Her designs always have an air of positivity about them and her love of plants has inspired a lot of her recent designs.

Rachel's instagram is absolutely beautiful - full of bright whites, pastel colours and copper tones and of course her beautiful cats Luna and Momo. Many of you will also know of Ruben, Rachel's first Persian who sadly passed away earlier this year. It was impossible not to fall in love with him looking at Rachel's photos - he clearly had such a big personality and it was wonderful to a rescue cat so happy in his new home. Now there's a new Persian in the ONR studio who is very different but equally as photogenic! Read on to find out more about Rachel's feline friends and life as a designer maker...

Your degree was in archaeology! Can you tell us a bit about how you ended up in the creative career you're in and why you chose archaeology as a degree?

Gosh, this is definitely a long winded story - and I guess a bit of an X-factor sob story, so bear with me...it's all good, there's a happy ending.

At school I was massively into two things, art and history. I chose to continue art at A-level & switched from history to Classical Civilisations. When it came to deciding what my next move would be, I knew I wanted to go to university but I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do. Teachers & careers advisers talked me out of doing something creative as they said 'it's incredibly hard to make a living as an artist so it's probably better to choose an academic subject instead as it will "open more doors"'. I loved watching Time Team on the telly & figured I'd enjoy doing a degree that was slightly more hands on than history or classics.

I absolutely loved my time at University. I got to travel to some incredible places with my course and intended to go on to do a masters & PhD with the goal of becoming a lecturer. However life kind of got in the way.

Right at the start of my masters, my boyfriend discovered an odd lump on his neck. We thought it might be mumps but we went to the doctors to get it checked out. Turned out it wasn't mumps, it was a rare form of lymphoma {a blood cancer}. After a short battle with the disease Pete sadly passed away. That pretty much turned my life upside down. I decided I didn't want to continue with my masters & managed to get myself a job working for Apple.

I basically started my little business as a creative outlet alongside my full-time job. More just as a way of making handmade gifts for friends, and sharing my creations on Etsy. People started to purchase my work. After a few nice little features in magazines and online, to my surprise my shop really began to take off!

Eventually there came a point where I was essentially working 2 full-time jobs. So I handed in my notice at Apple & I've been working for myself full-time since then!

Oh No Rachio Interview zabbyallen.com

Lovely Luna was your first cat! What made you get a cat in the first place?

Going from a job where I was surrounded by people all day everyday, to a job where I was sat on my own, in my studio was a real culture shock!

I've always loved animals, but never been in a position to take on the commitment until then. I wanted a dog, but having a puppy in a 2nd floor apartment with cream carpets was always going to be a recipe for disaster so we opted for a kitty instead!

That's where naughty Luna came in!

Oh No Rachio Interview zabbyallen.com

Your rescue Persian Ruben was such a popular chap on instagram (and was mentioned by Helen in last month's interview). Can you tell us a little bit about him and how he changed your life? There was such a collective sadness from the online community when he sadly passed away.

Awww my beautiful boy. I still miss him every single day. The support and love I felt from the online community was so overwhelming and so humbling. It really touched me to know that my little man was so loved, not just by us.

Jack had given me the green light {after lots of negotiating} to look for a second cat & I knew I wanted a squishy faced babe. I joined a few Persian rescue groups on Facebook as we'd decided that we wanted to give a loving home to an older cat rather than buy a kitten.

I saw Ruben on one of the pages. It said he'd come into the rescue as part of a group of 21. 13 of which had been taken to the same rescue he was at. I'm told the sight of all of those poor cats when Patsy, his rescuer, and her daughter went in to collect them brought them both to tears.

They were all completely matted solid, they had sores on their skin for their hair being knotted so tight & they all had medical problems. They were outside in wire pens with overflowing litter trays & many of them had been there for so long with little or no human contact that they were almost feral.

When we adopted Ruben, he'd been neutered, bathed, groomed, vaccinated, shown a whole lot of love & also shaved bald. He was like a little lamb.

From the moment I saw his picture I knew he was the one for us, and when I went to collect him he was stood at the top of the cat tree in the 'kitten room' at the rescue. Patsy told me Luna had better watch out as he was a bit of a ladies man & loved to give all the girls head bumps & sloppy kisses. Haha. He came straight up to me and started purring so loudly before I'd even touched him. The soppiest little purr machine I'd ever laid eyes on.

He was like my little shadow, followed me everywhere, slept on my pillow at night & sat on my lap or by my side all day.

He was 8 when we adopted him, so I'd envisioned perhaps another 10 blissful years with him. Sadly it wasn't to be & we lost our beautiful boy just 11 months after bringing him home. It makes me angry if I think too much about his first 8 years, but I know that in those last 11 months he very much knew how loved he was and I just feel incredibly grateful to have had him in our lives.

He was one in a million.

Oh No Rachio Interview zabbyallen.com

You now have another Persian called Momo who is gorgeous! Tell us a little bit about him and how Luna reacted when you brought another cat home.

Momo is a hilarious little beast. Nothing at all like Ruben, but wonderful in his own way.

We adopted him from the same rescue home, he'd come from a breeder who no longer needed his services as a stud. He's 3 so still a baby really - but bless him he's a timid little chap.

He doesn't purr at all, though he does love a good fuss on his own terms and is a very vocal little lad. He's also the greediest little piglet known to man. So much so we have to now feed Luna up on a high chest of drawers as he was eating all of her food & his no matter how much we gave him!!

Introducing the two of them was actually relatively easy. We just got him home & kind of let them get on with it. Luna had always really bullied poor Ruben, and when we'd brought him home she was really angry for at least the first month! Lots of swiping and hissing at him!

Momo though, she sniffed, did a little hiss and then walked away. She's never really been bothered by him which is so strange, but it certainly made our life easier!

Oh No Rachio Interview zabbyallen.com

How did you find the process of adopting a pedigree breed? Was Luna adopted too?

Luna was bought from Gumtree - just saying that makes me kind of embarrassed. We were so naive when we got Luna and had no idea how many amazing rescues are out there and how many incredible little pals are just waiting to find their fur-ever homes. We bought Luna from a woman who I guess knowing what I know now would be classed as a ‘backyard breeder’. She was using Gumtree to sell unregistered pedigree kittens, but in Luna’s case - her pedigree British Shorthair Mama was a bit sneaky & managed to get up the duff with next door's moggie. So Luna & the rest of her litter were born {much to the disappointment of the breeder}. Despite being told we’d have a “lifetime of support” from her, the moment we’d handed her the money and left with Luna she lost all interest. I text/emailed a couple of times to ask simple questions about cat litter/food and she never responded. It’s sad really. Luna is a babe and we love her very much though so at least she got her happy ending. Sadly many kittens and other animals sold through selling websites don’t find such loving homes and often end up in the wrong hands, or with people who aren’t able to cope with the commitment and so find their way into rescue.

There are SO many amazing pedigree special rescues that do such an incredible job rehoming. When I got in touch with Patsy who runs the rescue we got the boys from she was wonderful. So knowledgeable, so caring and she seemed incredibly genuine. I told her all about our home, and that we had Luna already - and were ideally looking for a cat of any age that was a real love bug. She made the whole adoption process incredibly easy - and has been at the end of the phone always happy to help, for the last 2 years now. She really is an angel - she puts her heart and soul into the rescue and does a wonderful job by each and every animal she takes in.

Oh No Rachio Interview zabbyallen.com

Can you give some advice on how to care for a Persian? They need a bit more maintence than most other cats don't they?

Persians have huge silky coats and really squishy flat faces which are both gorgeous endearing features, but which require some extra upkeep! Because of their flat faces often their tear ducts aren’t properly formed and so they constantly have streamy eyes. I like to call it eye gravy, or eye jam - but either way it's a teeny bit gross and whilst it doesn’t harm them it does stain their lovely fur and can get a bit gross. So it’s important to clean their faces daily with a warm wet flannel! They also need to be brushed several times a week with a long toothed metal comb to stop their long fur getting matted and uncomfortable.

Ruben used to love a good brush. Moms hates it - so I have to ply him with food and wrestle him for as long as I can before he gets really grumpy! It’s a shame because he really doesn’t like it - but I have to do it, because the alternative is the situation poor Ruben and Momo both ended up in before they entered the rescue.

Neither task takes very long, and once it's over Momo goes straight back to his usual laid back self!! He doesn’t hold a grudge!

Oh No Rachio Interview zabbyallen.com

You have such a varied product range, do you think it's important to keep things fresh and offer a wide range? When you're stuck for inspiration where do you look to?

I personally like to have a wide range of things to allow customers the opportunity to browse my shop like they would any physical store. I like the shelves to be stocked as it were, with plenty of things to click on and look at!

At the moment my focus continues to be on enamel pins as these sell incredibly well and I really enjoy designing them. However I’m always conscious to not focus my vision to ridgely in one direction, or put all of my eggs in one basket so I try to develop new designs of my other core products like stationery and cards seasonally as well.

I find inspiration all over the place, especially when I’m out and about. Mostly though I like to take colour inspiration from dreamy instagram snaps or pins on Pinterest!

Oh No Rachio Interview zabbyallen.com

How important is it to you to embrace your creative community? It's so nice to see your trips with Kim (@finestimaginary), Nikki (@nikkimcwilliams) and Kat (@thatkat) to London for events when you're all from very different areas of the country!

I absolutely LOVE being part of such a vibrant community of makers and small business owners! Social media has been an incredible gateway for me to connect with like-minded people from all over the country whom I’ve become really great friends with IRL! Spending time with fellow creatives is a great way to seek advice, bounce ideas around and re-ignite that spark!

Oh No Rachio Interview zabbyallen.com

I couldn't agree more with that last answer from Rachel. Instagram has been so great for me personally, chatting to people who also work alone in creative businesses throughout the day means I feel like I actually have some colleagues who understand what I do. I've been lucky enough to turn lots of my online relationships into real life friendhips and it's been so grehanging out with some amazing creative women this year, including Rachel! You can keep up with what Rachel's been up to on her instagram instagram and buy lovely things from her website.

Rachel's words about adoption are really important too and if you're in the market for a new pet I urge you to look into recuing! There are so many rescue homes across the country and it's possible to adopt even if you're desperate for a particular breed like Rachel was.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to read the other interviews in the series! Got a recommendation for a future Crafty Critters interview? Let me know on instagram, I'm @zabbyallen or use the form on my contact page!

All photos are courtesy of Rachel's instagram.

Tagged: Crafty Critters Interviews