Rainbow: An Interview

At AOW, we are committed to you, our readers, and to preserving the environment of support and trust that we have created.  We want to share, read about, encourage and learn about your lives, likes, loves and dislikes. The sponsors we accept and promote here on the blog will only ever be for companies that we believe in, who share our ethos, and whose products can enhance the way you live your lives.

This is a sponsored post.

Rainbow. You’ve all heard of them, right? Anyone who’s been married, is getting married, or has been a bridesmaid has almost certainly heard of Rainbow, and probably either worn, or contemplated wearing some of their shoes. They’re affordable, they have so many designs and ranges that you’re sure to find something to suit you, and they can dye them to match absolutely anything you want. Yes, I appreciate that you may not be the bride who wants her bridesmaid’s shoes to match their sashes, which match the napkins, but what about when you’ve found three individual perfect pairs of nude shoes for each of your bridesmaids, but can’t find any for the last one?  Where do you go? Rainbow of course. And now, Rainbow are sponsoring AOW. AOW and SHOES – does life get much better?

Now, when Rainbow approached us and asked us if they could join the AOW team of awesomeness which is our ever growing list of sponsors, we didn’t just want to write a generic post about wedding shoes and prettiness and more shoes and even more pretty shoes (although, look, just look at these beauties) (and ok, that’s a lie, we totally did want to write about shoes and things, but we know that’s not what AOW is about). We wanted to get behind the scenes and find out more about the successful women behind the company (because, after all, THAT’s what AOW is about). So, when they suggested we might like to interview their Head of Design, Diane Hassall, we jumped at the chance. Di (as I am now her best friend I feel ok with calling her that) is an incredibly successful business woman, who has worked her way up and got to where she is now through hard work and an incredible amount of talent, so I felt very lucky to be able to chat to her and find out more about how she did it.

Bon Bon by Rainbow

One of the first things I wanted to know when I chatted to Di was how she got into shoes. Was it a lifelong dream? And it seems that it was, as Di told me “I have always loved shoes, since I was a small child I have been fascinated by them, much more so than clothes – although obviously I love them too”.

So how do you go from being a little girl who loves shoes, to being a famous shoe designer? Di said “I took a degree in fashion and textile design and specialised in embroidered textiles, and in my final year I did a work placement with Emma Hope. I’m still a huge admirer of hers, and through her met Jimmy Choo, he made my final collection for me which was a range of embroidered silk shoes.”

Excuse me whilst I squeal that she met Jimmy  Choo.

Ahem. Ok.

I assumed that after that, it must have all been plain sailing from there, but Di admitted that “it was very difficult to start with, as I didn’t have the technical expertise, but I was determined to design shoes and nothing was going to stop me”.

Allora by Rainbow

What happens next just shows that hard work and putting yourself out there can really pay off. I for one could learn a lot from this lesson – networking and putting yourself out there is seriously hard, and actually very un-british…no-one wants to walk in somewhere and shout about how talented they are, but if you don’t sell yourself, no-one will.

Di told me how she went from starting out, to getting her big break: “After leaving college I packed my bags and headed to London in search of bright lights and a studio, I’d describe myself as a country girl at heart who loves big cities, and I felt the need to be accessible to the press etc at least to start with. With the aid of a small business grant (very small!!) I set up in a tiny (very tiny!!!) studio in Clerkenwell. I was filled with enthusiasm and excitement and trawled my way round the press with my collection – to my total amazement (genuinely) they all seemed to love it, and a few days later I had a call from the editor of Wedding Magazine who asked me to make her wedding shoes. To me she was bridal royalty and it didn’t get better than this!  I made the shoes and the magazine featured them in 3 separate issues, when the first one hit the newsstands my answer phone was literally full of brides wanting to buy my shoes, I was so excited, and it still gives me a huge buzz today, over 20 years on.”
Readers, if you have your own business, if that doesn’t inspire you to go out there and share your enthusiasm and excitement, I don’t know what will.
Clara by Rainbow
I asked Di what made her go from making her own bespoke shoes to getting involved with manufacturers, and eventually, Rainbow, and what she said really made sense to me: ” it might sound like selling out to some people, and there is no doubt that I absolutely loved the hand-made side of things, but after I had my son Joseph I suddenly felt the need to work a bit less and get my life back as it was so all consuming doing everything myself. Designing shoes for Rainbow Club gave me the best of both worlds really.”
And it’s the creative element to her role that Di still loves. I asked her whether she still gets involved in the creative side of things, and what she enjoys most in her role as Head of Design “Undoubtedly the creative side of my job is what makes me get out of bed every day. It’s quite a varied role, starting with reviewing the previous years collections, what’s done well, what we need more of, etc and then putting together the four collections from initial sketches, to sourcing fabrics and trims, making sample pieces for the factory to work from. I work closely with our technical team who make sure that the fit is great and everything works properly from a technical point of view. When the collections are finally ready, after months of sampling, fit tests etc we then start work on the marketing side of things, I love to attend the fashion shoots for our photography which we use for brochures, advertising, showcards etc. I also enjoy the shows where we finally present the collections to the retailers and get feedback from them”.
Cherish by Rainbow
And her favourite part of the role?  ”Putting the initial sketches and sample pieces together for ‘Hassall’, even at this stage I can visualise the final shoe, I still find it really exciting that brides will walk down the aisle in something I’ve created!”.
That IS pretty exciting, no?  But how do you stay inspired, and come up with new ideas year after year? “My inspiration comes from lots of different things, I am constantly looking at fashion, interiors, exhibitions of all sorts, I get lots of inspiration from museums, costume galleries etc, and I love trawling through antique shops and vintage clothes shops for lovely old pieces of lace, such as collars and gloves etc, or perhaps a beautiful old flower or brooch, so many things can inspire. I have my grandmother’s old button boxes too, and I still love to rummage through these and find something I haven’t seen before. The web has also given us so many new opportunities, for example I spent all last night looking at art deco jewellery! Now that we also design and produce veils and headpieces I often discover something that perhaps may not work on a shoe, but we can use on a veil or headpiece.”
This inspiration shines through in Rainbow’s accessories range, where you can find beautiful wedding tiaras, bridal headbands, wedding handbags and some of the most beautiful wedding veils I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Louise by Rainbow
It was fascinating getting to chat to Di and to find out more about what makes her tick. At the end, for a bit of fun, I asked her which shoe, out of the many collections Rainbow has, would be the perfect shoe for the Any Other Woman? And that’s when I knew she really got AOW, and why they wanted to be involved with us:
“The AOW readers are so diverse, so interesting, so unique, that I really can’t choose one shoe to define them all. I know that you have readers who like to be a bit different and make a statement, and for them, ‘Bon Bon‘ is perfect, it’s fun and flamboyant with its fab velvet pom pom, but still absolutely gorgeous and feminine. For those readers who love a bit of glam sparkle, ‘Allora‘ is a great choice or ‘Enchanted‘ with its amazing crystal florette. But I know that a lot of your readers also are just looking for something a bit different, so for them I would say the ultimate in feminine elegance, ‘Cherish‘, with its sheer organza ties is so pretty and romantic, or ‘Melanie‘ is another great choice, and for those that just want plain simplicity ‘Faith‘ is simple and elegant. I also know that there will be a lot of your readers who don’t ever wear heels, so why would you on your wedding day – for them, I’d say these delicate little flat pumps would be perfect, and for those who want the height but are scared of toppling over, we have these stunning wedges . I really think that we have a shoe for every type of AOW reader”.

Merlot by Rainbow
So there you have it readers, a look behind the scenes, and into the human side of one of the biggest names in the wedding world. You’re welcome.
You know what else occurred to me as I was writing this post. These are not just wedding shoes. Looking for the perfect pair of shoes to go with that dress? If only you could find a pair of shoes in that specific colour? Well, now you can. Rainbow have it covered.
Now, go shop. And follow Rainbow on Facebook and Twitter. And then send us pictures of the beauties that you’ve chosen.
Categories: Sponsored Posts
3 interesting thoughts on this

2 Comments

  1. Posted June 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Diane Hassall designed the shoes which one of my brides wore last week…they were beautiful!

    I love that unlike other blogs who just aimlessly bombard readers with their ads and sponsors, who often have nothing to do with what the blog is about, you have a way of getting beneath all the nonsense and finding businesses that really get AOW values and readers. Nobody else writes sponsored posts like this..meaningful, thoughtful and funny.

  2. Posted June 26, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    What Lucy said and also – shooooes!! :)

One Trackback

  • By Headdress and Holiday: Sponsored Giveaway! on April 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    [...] holidays then this will be right up your street too. Rainbow Shoes (yes, the very Rainbow who we interviewed here) contacted us and asked us to let you know about their competition that they’re currently [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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image by Lucy Stendall Photography

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