Rachael Powell has always had a passion for fabric and design, and launched Oohlalalampshades in 2012 from her home in Dulcote, near Wells. She prides herself on attention to detail, and sources most of her fabrics locally. She adores making standard lamps – and thinks every home should have one – and dreams of one day being able to make lampshades full-time.
Rachael: “I was born and brought up in Wales and moved to Somerset nine years ago. I have always been interested in design and on a personal level, I have always been keen to ensure that my own home has character. I’ve always loved lampshades but could never find exactly what I wanted for my home. This is what made me start on my lampshading venture. All I could seem to find on the market were drum lampshades and I saw that there was a gap in the market for traditional styles with a modern, contemporary and sometimes quirky twist. I’m not a person who matches everything in the home, as I believe it makes your home far more interesting if you have interesting things in it!”
As well as sourcing much of her fabric locally, Rachael also picks up supplies on her travels. While her lampshade frames are UK-made, her trimmings mostly come from France. So where do her unusual name for her business come from?
Rachael: “Oohlalalampshades – well the name popped up in my head after a few weeks of thinking, thinking and more thinking! It was the la-las that did it I think! A little bit long but people do seem to like it and customers tell me they love their ‘Oohlala’! I am quite an outgoing, bubbly person and I definitely think that my personality reflects in my lampshades. I really do get excited at the prospect of making a new lampshade, especially if I have just found a new fabric. I just have to get home and start making it – regardless of what time of day it is.”
As a child, Rachael always made things but said her “creative streak” developed much later in life, when she attended an Interior Design Course at night school. That’s when she realised that she had a “bit of a flair for fabrics and colours”.
Rachael: “I love fabrics that are unusual and have plenty of life. Yes, I do make some plain lampshades but that’s not in my nature as I really love colour. It always makes me smile when someone wants to play safe and then decides to have something completely different after looking through my fabric stash! I source my fabrics from various fabric suppliers – I’m like a bee to honey. I use my local in shop in Wells, and in Frome, along with visiting every fabric home wherever I happen to be. Beautiful fabrics motivate me. I love matching the fabric with trimmings and braids to ensure the finished product is exactly right so everything looks perfect. I am always thinking about what my next designs will be – which shape would suit a particular fabric.”
So after moving away from her home in Wales, why settle in Somerset?
Rachael: “I just love the feel of Somerset. Gorgeous countryside, towns and villages steeped in history, the wonderful Somerset Levels, mystical Glastonbury, the amazing St Catherine’s Hill in Frome and, the most beautiful city of Wells. I could go on and on with all the fabulous places I visit. The maker movement is a fantastic thing here at the moment. All these amazing crafters are coming out of the woodwork and producing fabulous handmade items. I can’t leave without mentioning THAT Carnival, wow, its the most spectacular event, I always have a house full and… oh and that cider… I just love it all.”