Bookbinder & Artist
On a Friday at Hart's
Interview No. 83
Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Fairport. I went to Savannah College of Art and Design, where I took lots of foundation classes in painting, drawing, etc. It was awesome! I even took a few filmmaking classes. I finished my degree in Print Media at RIT and live in Fairport now.
What is your favorite part of living in Rochester?
I love that everything is only 20 minutes away—whether it’s downtown, the suburbs, or the beach. Even the open roads of the Finger Lakes are nearby! It’s centralized, in a way, with new experiences in every direction. It also feels like a big city, but you still see people you know when you go out. But nothing is going to come to you here—you have to put your shoes on and get out of the house.
Do you have any favorite/secret Rochester spots?
Well it’s not in Rochester, but Letchworth—I went there for the first time recently and was stunned at how big it is. You can drive for miles and not see anyone else. It felt so private, and it’s amazing that we have it right in our backyard.
What’s the most unique or interesting event you’ve attended in Rochester?
One of my favorite events every year is watching silk dyeing demos at the Lilac Festival. It’s very unique to Rochester, and is mesmerizing to watch. They lay out silk sheets on the ground and just paint them, twice a day. The times are posted at their booth, right next to the park, so be sure to look for it at this year’s festival!
Do you have a favorite charity/nonprofit you like to support?
I volunteer my time with the Monroe County Library System by doing book repairs for them, and I also serve as a judge for the Central Library’s Art of the Book exhibit.
If you had $100 and 2 hours to kill in ROC, how would you spend it?
Put me at an art festival, whether it’s Clothesline, Park Ave Fest, or Canal Days, and that money would be gone in no time. It’s a conundrum being an artist—you want to support other artists, but you can’t drop money on everything. I think building meaningful connections helps, and you can give back in other ways.
What is your personal coping mechanism for cold/gray weather?
I don’t mind the gray weather. I like to sit by a window and just look out. Put on three pairs of socks, drink a warm cup of coffee, and I’m happy.
What is your favorite Rochester memory?
When I was 11 or 12, I saw an artist at Canal Days and said to my dad, “I want to be her!” I also have great memories of going to the Hungerford and Anderson Arts Building with my dad—those experiences really shaped me.
What makes Rochester unique?
We’re more than just Rochester—there are the Finger Lakes, Lake Ontario, and so much more. When you say you’re from Rochester, people often follow up with “Oh, what part?” There are so many subsections, from Webster to Canandaigua to High Falls. It’s so spread out and there’s so much to offer.
What do you think could be improved?
Public transportation, other than the bus system, could really be improved. We should be rehabilitating and restoring things! We used to have a subway system, and now we don’t have many options other than the bus. With everyone driving their own cars, it just creates congestion, traffic, and pollution.
If Rochester were a book (or genre of book), what would it be?
It would be a memoir—so many legendary people came from Rochester, and there are so many interesting people living here now with stories to share. I’d read them all! It’s why I love reading blogs and websites. Any time I visit another artist’s website, the first thing I do is go to their ‘About’ page to read their story.
What made you decide to start a business in Rochester versus somewhere else?
Rochester is a big printing city—we have lots of print history here. People really appreciate it. Plus, it’s a big library and reading city. I knew my target audience was out there. I also love Rochester and didn’t want to move.
What is the best part of owning a business?
I love the creative freedom it gives me. No one tells me ‘no’ or ‘you’re doing it wrong.’ I like setting my own schedule and making my own decisions.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Seeking out my own opportunities can be tough, but it forces you to keep moving forward. It can also be difficult to maintain a work-life balance. Since my husband is self-employed too and works from home, we have to pay attention to whether we’re goofing off too much or working too hard. (Editor’s note: fun fact: Rachael’s husband is I Heart ROC alumnus Jon Lewis--catch his interview here). We both understand each other’s commitment to our businesses, so we’re on the same page. We’re constantly encouraging each other. One thing that helps us maintain balance is having separate, dedicated workspaces in the house.
Do you have any advice for up and coming entrepreneurs in the Rochester area?
Don’t let anyone say no to you! If you want to own your own business, people will tell you no or that it’s not a good idea—but you have to always believe in your mission and own it, 100%.