Have you ever watched a TV programme and really wanted what the person is wearing? Well, if it’s a glitzy accessory you’re after, look no further. McTavish Collection is a range of necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets and scarves that are often seen on TV. That’s because the woman behind the brand, Rachel McTavish, is a sophisticated newsreader who delivers the headlines to Scotland.
Her background is as glamorous as she is. After starting on a local news channel in Liverpool, she went on to present nationwide on the likes of ITV News, GMTV and Five News.
However, despite handling such big news events as 9/11 with ease, Rachel had a problem. While she always looked good, it was difficult to find stylish jewellery to wear on screen and give a new look to her favourite outfits.
And so, in 2008, she began McTavish Collection, sourcing beautiful but affordable costume jewellery both to wear and sell.
Over the years, the business has grown – which is no real surprise. Rachel is not only gorgeous (which I note with a sigh every time I look at her Facebook posts, as I sit there in my fluffy dressing gown working from home), but she has a great sense of style.
Her choice of products on McTavish Collection reflects this. They’re classic, elegant pieces – but that doesn’t mean boring nor unfashionable. Among the collection are some fabulous tennis necklaces, which are massive at the moment – Amy Adams sported one to the Oscars last month.
Rachel’s tennis necklaces will set you back a maximum £65. Amy’s Cartier piece was probably a little bit more.
In addition, there is a beautiful range of soft leopard-print scarves. I’m not a huge fan of large amounts of animal print (as you’ll have seen on my post about Absence of Colour) but I love it on accessories. Scarves are a great way to add your personality to an outfit and these will have you bang up-to-date with one of the biggest trends that will hit the spring. There are also some beautiful animal-print cuff bracelets, which will look great layered up.
Here, Rachel, who now lives in Glasgow with her husband Paul and their twin sons, tells us more about her move into jewellery, shares her favourite pieces and gives her thoughts on fashion rules.
Tell us about your life in journalism…
I started as video-journalist – a reporter who shoots their own pictures – and presenter for a Cable TV station called Channel One Liverpool.
It was a very small operation where everyone did absolutely everything. One minute I could be reading the news and the next, I could be operating the studio cameras for someone else’s programme.
It was the sort of job that I’d find exhausting now but back then, when I was starting out, it was totally exhilarating.
I left Channel One to go to ITN, where I continued as a video journalist. But one day a presenter didn’t turn up to read the news at Channel 5 and I immediately borrowed a jacket and volunteered to do it.
After that, I was a regular filling in on bulletins when they were short-staffed.
It was around this time that I heard that ITN wanted to start up a 24-hour news channel, so I went up to see the chief executive with a carrier bag of my showreels and pleaded with him to give me a chance.
When ITN Newschannel eventually launched, I was part of the team of presenters alongside big names such as John Suchet, Julia Somerville and Carol Barnes.”
It was a steep learning curve. Sometimes I was on air for six hours at a time and when there was breaking news, we didn’t have any internet in the studio to check facts.
I was on air on 9/11 and that is a memory that will stay with me forever.
Why did you start a “second job”?
Fast-forward a good few years and I’d got married and had the twins and moved from London to Glasgow. Once again I was reading the news, this time for STV (Scottish Television).
All the time, Paul had been telling me I should have another job on the go in case my TV career finished. And sure enough, in 2008, I found myself looking for another job after my contract came to an end.
I admit that I floundered for quite some time. TV had never felt like proper work as such, and so I wanted to find something else that would also fit in with small children but which was fun.
So why was this McTavish Collection?
My family have a strong background in retail and that, combined with my love of jewellery, led me to think about starting a jewellery company.
As a presenter, you always have your favourite go-to jacket that you seem to wear frequently. I used to try and change my look by wearing different pieces of costume jewellery to shake it up a bit. But I found the choice very limited – and the prices seemed a bit steep – so I thought that might be a good area to start.
I found it incredibly difficult at the beginning to show people the pieces I’d selected to sell. When you think about it, jewellery is such a personal thing and I was terrified that the ladies I approached wouldn’t like my taste.
I gradually plucked up the courage to take a stall at a local nursery night and couldn’t believe it when almost all my stock sold out. That gave me more confidence to pick more and widen my choices.
How do you find your pieces?
I have a really clear idea in mind what I want. I have only ever sold jewellery that I love. I don’t think I could sell anything that I couldn’t envisage wearing.
I feel really strongly that as well as being stylish, my pieces should be good quality and good value for money.
What pieces do you like the most?
One of my biggest successes has probably been my range of tennis necklaces (below) and bracelets.
For years and years I’d hankered after a “believable” tennis necklace with stones that weren’t so big that it screamed “fake”.
I finally found a manufacturer who understood exactly what I was asking for and I now sell a classic tennis necklace for £50. The 3mm stones are set in a four-prong setting and it looks like the real thing.
My most popular seller is definitely the adjustable tennis bracelets. At £25, they come in gold, silver and rose gold and make the perfect gift as you know they’ll fit the recipient perfectly, no matter what their wrist size.
Newspaper and magazines often tell us the “rules” about how to wear jewellery, especially for older women. What are your thoughts?
I don’t think there are any “rules” as such for what jewellery to wear, I personally don’t wear matching sets and like to mix styles up and layer different necklaces and bracelets together.
But I also have a strong core of customers who I know will always ask for the matching necklace, earrings and bracelet as that’s what they like, so I try to cater for everyone.
What advice would you give women thinking of starting their own business?
I’d say: “Just go for it.” That might sound a tad gung-ho, but you can spend an age sitting there and thinking about all the whys and wherefores. Nothing beats just starting.
I would also suggest trying to build your own website. I’ve recently built a new website using Shopify that really was incredibly simple to do.
Good photography is another must. I’ve had varying degrees of success over the years but have finally found a camera and lightbox that suit me well.
Eleven years down the line, my jewellery has really taken over from the TV. I still read the news regularly and host conferences and have even started presenting a car programme, but the jewellery is where I know my future lies.
You can check out Rachel’s full range at McTavish Collection.
I’d love to hear what you think about Rachel’s story. Please leave me a comment. And if you’ve enjoyed this and want to be kept up-to-date with all 50Sense posts, don’t forget to subscribe and share with your friends.