Who’s Who Wednesday: Rachel Brooke Designs

Introduce yourself.  Where are you from?

I’m Rachael Brooke Winkley from Madison, WI.  I grew up in Whitewater, WI which is a small college town in the southeastern part of the state.   I’m a near-native Wisconsinite except for the first few years of my life spent in Chicago, IL. 


What is your shop name?  What is the story behind the name?

My business name is Rachael Brooke Designs.  I give my father credit for inspiring the name.  He says that he chose my middle name, Brooke, so that when I became a famous actress I could use Rachael Brooke as my stage name.   I did not grow up to win a Tony or Oscar, but I think that selling your own work is a lot like being on stage.   I am now searching for a new business name that reflects my focus on using vintage or repurposed materials and my commitment to running an eco-friendly studio.

Hammered Shield shape Hoops in 100% recycled sterling silver

How did you get started?  Is this your full-time gig?
I started making and selling jewelry with my parents when I was in high school.

 What items do you sell?  Which ones are your favorites to make?

I sell jewelry that I create from antique, vintage or simply second-hand tea, candy and tobacco tins; aluminum kitchenware; serving trays and other discarded metal objects.  I’m always most excited about making the newest design I’ve created.

Describe your workspace.  What book is near you right now?

My studio is in a one-story 1920’s bungalow at Mendota Mental Health Institute (MMHI) on the north shore of LakeMendota in Madison.  The bungalow is one of several which were built to house World War I veterans who were being treated for shell shock syndrome.  My studio is a 198 square foot room with high ceilings and three large windows – lots of natural light and enough room to spread out and make a mess in.  My sketchbook is the closest book to me.

Buenos Aires Recycled Coaster Necklace

Describe your creative process.  What is your creative style?

My natural creative process is best described as creative chaos.  I often think I’m a little ADD when it comes to creating.  I jump from one thing to another back again and on to something else.  This can be great for brainstorming new designs, but lousy for getting work ready for a show or an order ready for one of my stores.

 How do you stay motivated?  Tea or coffee?

The best way for me to keep motivated is to work in my studio daily and leave myself something to get back to work on the next day.  I work in my studio Monday through Friday as much as possible.  I have fought being disciplined all my life (see the “creative chaos” answer above).  Ironically, the habit of self-discipline is what I need most in order to create my work and try to make a living at it. 

coffee – strong, black and lots of it! I’m an early riser who often has insomnia – not the best mix.  I’d love it there were caffeine patches just like the nicotine patches.

Do you think feedback is important?  How can you turn around negative comments?

Feedback and criticism are immensely important for studio artists since we work alone.  It’s just me, my tools, a bunch of old tins and my imagination.  What I think is totally fantastic and love to wear might not be what others this is totally fantastic and love to wear.  It always helps to get out of my own head and learn how others perceive my work.  I also think that artists whose work is functional need to get feedback from customers who use it. 
I’ve gotten some of my best ideas for new designs or ways to market my work from my customers.

Are you on any teams at Etsy?  Which one are you most active?  Do you think they are helpful?

Yes, I’m a member of the following teams: Etsy Wisconsin Street Team (a.k.a. the “Moo Crew”); Etsy Trashion Team, Etsy Blog Team, Etsy Success, Handmadeology Etsy Team, and several others.  I’m most active on the WIST team where I’m a team leader and write our blog’s weekly “On The Road with the Moo Crew” post.

Rooster & Thistle Vintage Candy Tin Necklace

How do you feel about your life right now?
Any advice for new Etsians or those wanting to take the plunge into selling their artwork? If you sell jewelry or other small work and don’t have a camera with digital macro, go out and get one.  Then read the advanced owner’s manual – really read it, don’t just skim through it.  Photography has been the hardest part of having an online shop for me.

Wolves or Mountain Lions?

definitely mountain lions – have you ever seen the size of those paws or heard that wicked cat growl?  Although my daughter, Bella, loves wolves.  I can just hear her saying, “MOM! You’re supposed to pick wolves!”


Etsy shop




Facebook page






Any shops/markets you participate in?

I’ll be selling on the last weekend of the month from June through September at the Indie Designer Market in Chicago, IL. http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com/indiedesignermarket/index.html

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Categories: Uncategorized, Who's Who Wednesdays


Natural Light Photographer + Designer fine art*landscape*portraiture


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