CoME to LonDON. KettLE on for tea.

September 16, 2010

“come to london. kettle on for tea.” said the text that came into my phone at 4:46 am.

a dear friend had just touched down in London on a jet plane straight from LA. it was 4:46 am here in America, 10:46 am in London. this is one of the things i dearly love. texts. texts from friends in far-flung corners of the world…even in the hours before dawn. 

it is a simple little gift. a text. even at 4:46 am.

i happened to be awake.

{photo credit -}

so as I drifted back to sleep, i envisioned her gracefully stepping off the plane in a pair of beat-up cowboy boots. fog heavy in the air. steam wafting up from iron grates on the tarmac. gently throwing an old cashmere sweater over her shoulders and brushing her dirty blonde hair back from her freshly Californian tanned face and smiling as she felt the feeling of home wash over her.

 and then i envisioned her getting in a big black taxi, the old-fashioned kind of course, and watching as all the sights of London passed by the window. her gentle grey eyes blinking back jet lag as she anxiously awaited settling into her wonderful English flat.

and then I envisioned the creamy white walls of her flat and the worn-out wood floors as her old cowboy boots shuffled across them , the twinkling of the tiny antique French chandeliers that i know must hang from the tall ceilings and the well-worn, soft pink slip cover that surely swallows up a big down-filled sofa. the hand-written quotes on tiny scraps of paper that peek out from old oil paintings, the photos of her children, and mementos from across the world.

i see all the details of a much-loved home.

all the details of a life well-lived.

all the fineries of a purposeful existence.

 i see the beautifully tattered little details that could only be the mark of one person. . . of one of my icons, of one of my dearest friends, of one of  the most selfless people I’ve ever been privileged enough to know . . .

meet Rachel.

Rachel Ashwell.

{RaCHEL...surrounded by peace and beauty}

my love affair with Shabby Chic and hence Rachel Ashwell began many years ago when I first began my journey into junkdom back in 1998. when i first began hopscotching across the country seeking out all that is tattered and worn and junky and funky. and i will never forget the first time i saw Rachel. it was on the cover of her second book, RACHEL ASHWELL’S SHABBY CHIC, TREASURE HUNTING & DECORATING GUIDE.


i saw this person sitting atop an old table in old jeans and older cowgirl boots and well . . . I fell in love! i snatched up the book and read it from cover to cover! i wagged it around from fleamarket to fleamarket as if it were a bible, alongside wrinkled road maps and scribbled-in journals. it was as if Rachel herself was my co-pilot.

a few years later, JuNK GypSY was no longer a dashboard dream of mine, it had become reality. and on my bookshelf sat every book Rachel Ashwell had ever written. still years later, she was an icon to me.

{RaCHEL in the early days...the thrill of the hunt}

 and then one day, in Warrenton, Texas while selling all things junky at the fleamarket  in walked none other than Rachel Ashwell herself. as she said, in her deliciously decadent British accent, “would this happen to be Junk Gypsy?” i looked up from my job of folding t-shirts, as if in slow motion, and said “yes, it is.”

“hello, I am Rachel Ashwell, my friend Mary Emmerling said I should look you up. Would you happen to have dinner plans?”

so that night us three Junk Gypsies, 3 little junk dealers from Texas, dined with junk royalty, with the QuEEN of all things shabby, the world famous, Rachel Ashwell.

{accessorizing before RaCHEL's first JuNK-O-RaMA prom}

then our tremendous friendship ensued. years of texting about anything and everything, phone calls about business, about life, about love, about love lost. about children. about parents. about deaths. everything else falling away except the friendship between two women who set out in search of wonderful junk . . . and ended up finding wonderful lives

{a dinner party at RaCHEL's MaLibu home...heavenly}

and we learned her back story. dropping out of high school. leaving London as a teenager. coming to America. getting married. Having two children. getting divorced. and with a small loan, and two babies, starting something that was a dream, Shabby Chic. building it to a multi-million dollar empire out of nothing but sheer determination, brilliant creativity, and a good heart. a golden heart.


{we love this's just soooo....rachel. we snagged it off her blog...which you MUsT READ!}

in her exact words, “I never had any formal training in anything, life has been my school.” and for that, all of us can be thankful. Shabby Chic is neither manipulated nor planned, it is organic. it is real. it is built out of Rachel’s ongoing love for the prettiness of imperfection.

Maybe that’s why she loves us, she believes in the “prettiness of imperfection.” 🙂

and in spite of being copied over and over again, the real thing, Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Couture, continues to survive. and thrive.

you can shop her  Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture stores  in Santa Monica, SoHo, or London. or you can shop for Simply Shabby Chic at Target.

her 6th book, Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Interiors: my rooms, treasures, and trinkets, tells the story of a huge transformation in Rachel’s personal and professional life over the past two years. it was written at a crossroads in her life. purchase one HERE (they will also be available in our tent at warrenton)

and now,we three junk dealers from Texas are honored to host her FIRST TEXAS BOOK SIGNING at our JuNK GypSY tent in Warrenton, Texas at the Zapp Hall Show. Come join us 11-3pm on September 30, 2010 for a wonderful question and answer TeXAS sit-down with our favorite London cowgirl, Rachel Ashwell.

{her new book...Rachel Ashwell ShABBY CHIC Interiors}

 Godspeed Shabby Chic.

XOXO, the junk gypsies (sisters in all things shabby, tattered, and torn)

ps – the most recent text I received from Rachel “need good home for my grand white sofa from Malibu house. handing it down to the Junk Gypsies. if you want it. hope you don’t mind – Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and myself have all slept on it.”

will someone please pinch me?

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  • Reply Theresa-Garden Antqs Vintage September 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I’ll take that sofa in a heart beat! So excited that she’s doing the book signing at Zapp. See you soon my friends.

  • Reply debbie york September 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    This is a beautifully written post by a beautiful heart….serendipity at it’s finest.
    P.S. If you get a chance, you should link this up with Debra’s (Common Ground) Vintage Inspired Friday. This is the stuff dreams are made of!

  • Reply paisley penguin September 16, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    WOW. You know, when you first mention cowboy boots I knew EXACTLY who you were talking about. I have been a fan since her second book too. Her TV show and every thing. So luck you were able to meet and whata great friendship you have formed. This blog post was a gem!

  • Reply Cathy Guess September 16, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    What an awesome experience and friendship ya’ll have formed!!! That is in a round about way how Girls Gone Junkin look up to ya’ll….especially being all Texas Girls who have a love for junkin!!! Ya’ll are the “bomb” especially her in the Lone Star State, and I admire all that ya’ll have accomplished in your years of business!! Happy Junkin!!! Cathy aka GGJ

  • Reply Sandi ~ A Cottage Muse September 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Beautiful tale of true kindred spirits!!

    Hoping to get to Texas someday ~ to go pickin’ in your stomping grounds!

    Thanks for a wonderful story ~ enjoy your weekend!!

  • Reply Curtains In My Tree September 17, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I want to say DAMN!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was dreaming all the time I was reading your post about Rachell. I have all her books and they all have woren pages even her new book. What a dream to have her with you at your fancy Texas booth.

    Some day i’m going to Texas


  • Reply missy September 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    A dear friend told me not so long ago that good things happen to good people – no doubt your friendship with Rachel is testimony to his statement. It couldn’t happen to a nice pair of sisters and their mom!

  • Reply Mary Frances September 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    The last page of chapter 7 in her book Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide has a short blessing she captioned “a prayer for my home”…I typed this in old font, and framed it to hang in my entry…my friends and family all loved it and I always give her credit…she inspired me when she had her original business, all her lovely books, magazine articles and of course, her lovely show…I wish her continued success always! Your friendship blesses all of you!!

  • Reply Gypsy Costume Ideas September 21, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Great story and very inspiring. i love the outfit in the picture it looks like a gypsy costume which is a great outfit for the Halloween.

  • Reply tealady3 September 21, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Beautiful! Loved this post.

  • Reply Kay Record September 21, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Reading about Rachel is so inspiring, I never realized how she started out. I’ve had my shop almost 17 years. I opened after the death of my son, Seth. It’s name MEMORIES OF THE HEART, is just that, because Seth and I went junking, as he grew up loving it, like I do. I love shabby and cottage, and I have primitive in my shop, too. You can find me on FB, under Kay Record. You and your ideas have kept me going, when the going has been rough, through death and divorce, and heartache. It is the spirit within us that keeps inspiration alive.

  • Reply Scarlett Fiona Reed September 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Amie, you are an amazing writer. I love this story. Now I am SO excited to meet Rachel! We’re scheduled to leave that day but will hang around for that for sure! See you soon!

  • Reply Beth Fisher September 23, 2010 at 5:12 am

    Amie that was such a beautifully written post… the butterflies in my stomach have multiplied in anticipation of my first trip to TX… Jersey Gypsies are really hoping to meet y’all absolutely can’t wait!!!! See you soon…..

  • Reply Melissa Dale September 24, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    One day I hope to make it to Zapp Hall in WARRENTON. I have been fans of you gypsies for years now! I’ve been inspired by Rachel Ashwell myself and am lying on a Shabby Chic duvet cover as I write this (with my husband snoring next to me). Love to the gypsies and love to RA, the queen of junkin herself!

  • Reply Dee September 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    This was a joy to read ~ I have admired Rachel from afar for many years. 2 months back, my good friend Debra, was lucky enough to run into her at the Brimfield Flea and took a photo with her ~ I of course missed her by a day (story of my life:) I am a newcomer to the whole “Junk Gypsy” way and am smitten by you and all your Gypsy goodness. I’ll be checking in often and hope to catch up with you someday in our mutual travels.

  • Reply robin October 19, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    What a great story. I love serendipity. thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Jenny December 4, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    What a beautiful journey.

  • Reply teamgloria June 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

    oh! this is a beautiful post.

    we love rachel ashwell’s aesthetic too – just bought one of her HUGE european pillows to soothe and calm…

    pix of it here:

    thanks for sharing your story. am going to drop by again junk gypsy!

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