Meet Rachael Reardon, founder of Warrington-based Vintage with Grace
PUBLISHED: 06:06 14 April 2020
Vintage with Grace is the Warrington-based chalk paint brand that is taking the interiors world by storm. Founder Rachael Reardon tells us more
For Rachael Reardon, a career in the world of interiors was never really on the cards – in fact, not that long ago she had plans in place to set up her very own vintage tea-room. ‘I’d bought loads of ex-pub furniture and was going to do it up to put in the tea-room. It didn’t pan out because the place I was renting wasn’t big enough and it just wasn’t meant to be,’ she explains. ‘So I thought, “what am I going to do with all this furniture?!”.’ As the saying goes, one door closes and another door opens: Rachael decided to sell the up-cycled furniture, and suddenly she found that her painting skills were in demand. ‘I’d actually enjoyed painting it, and I had already rented a space and I had some paint, so I began painting for friends and eventually for customers,’ she reflects.
From there Rachael started carrying out lots of commission work, which saw her painting and re-styling pre-loved furniture pieces for clients in the local area. She also launched a series of classes and workshops which proved hugely popular, as well as setting up her own stand in Warrington Market. As Rachael’s portfolio evolved, though, her search for the ‘perfect’ paint continued: she wanted one that offered optimum coverage, easy application and fast drying time, while still being environmentally friendly, so in 2015 she took the leap to set up her own brand. ‘I went to visit a manufacturer in Cheshire and asked whether he’d heard of chalk paint,’ Rachael recounts. ‘He hadn’t, but I knew roughly what the ingredients were so he said he would give it a go. He sent back a sample and I loved it!’ With that, Vintage with Grace Chalkpaint was born, and Rachael now has a huge range of colours, with something that’s bound to suit all tastes and styles. The paint recipe is low in VOC content and odour-less, making it the perfect option for children’s rooms, and although it’s a chalk paint, it’s as smooth as a mineral paint and it dries in as little as 20 minutes. ‘I think because I’m a painter myself, I know what painters want,’ Rachael adds.
Vintage with Grace is now sold in over 30 different places, spanning from independent retailers in Weston-Super-Mare and Bournemouth to stores in Glasgow and Swansea. It is also stocked in a number of places across the Cheshire and Manchester areas, including the likes of Branches of Warrington. ‘It’s everywhere,’ Rachael laughs. ‘But I keep thinking, “right I want ten more stockists this month”. It’s just about getting the name out there, but I feel proud because not only are people saying they’ve tried it and they love it, but it’s all happened organically by word of mouth.’
However, she is still based from her workshop in Warrington, and has big plans to bring the local community of painters together. ‘I’m hoping to set up some live events with my stockists […] I’ve also got a “share your projects” page on Facebook, where people post their before and after photos. It’s a lovely platform for painters to discuss their projects and find tips and advice,’ she says. Rachael was also involved in the first ever PaintStock last year, a dedicated festival for the UK’s painters. New additions to the ever-expanding paint range are on the horizon, too.
And from looking at some of Rachael’s and her stockists’ projects, it’s easy to see why this interior design trend is so popular. The finished products are truly stunning, with everything from Alice in Wonderland-themed chairs to Art Deco-style side tables, and it also allows you to create your ideal piece of furniture for a fraction of the price. Gone are the days of having to search for that worn-looking antique-style dresser, because you can simply create it yourself. It’s also a genius way to update much-loved family pieces, and it’s sustainable too because it reduces waste.
Better still, Rachael stresses that anyone can do it, even those of us who aren’t necessarily a dab hand with the paint brush. ‘Don’t be nervous, just get stuck into it. Perhaps practice on a piece of wood, just make sure it’s clean with no grease. If you want to create a shabby-chic look, use sandpaper and dark wax to age it. For a fresh modern look, you just paint it and that’s it, you’re there! You can also change the accessories too, like the door knobs and door handles,’ she suggests. ‘It’s a blank canvas: people are all individual and our homes are individual too, so it’s just about putting your own spin on it.’
Painting is well-known for its therapeutic element too, so given all that is going on in the world, perhaps now is as good a time as ever to be giving that tired-looking side-table a new lease of life.