How this small business owner partnered with David Jones to bring a touch of joy to NSW’s reopening

David Jones store

Rachel Castle's work in a David Jones store window. Source: supplied.

As the streets of NSW started to come back to life this week, one small design business was called upon by retail giant David Jones to spread a bit of colour and a little extra joy among returning shoppers.

The retailer reached out to designer Rachel Castle back in August to discuss creating some graphics to celebrate the end of NSW’s 106-day lockdown.

From Monday, her work popped up in store windows, on signage on the shop floor, and across David Jones’ social media presence.

Castle is something of a David Jones fan. When she’s older, she will be content with a trip to David Jones once a month, she tells SmartCompany — and she’s informed her daughter as such.

Despite the initial butterflies that can come from working with your heroes, she says the process was smooth and collaborative.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by RACHEL CASTLE (@rachelcastleandthings)

While this was a big project for her, working on it remotely made it just a little less daunting.

Castle wasn’t able to go into the store or physically see the spaces her work would be filling. That meant she didn’t get overwhelmed “by the ‘bigness’ of it”, she explains.

That is, at least, until she walked into David Jones on Monday morning. Seeing her work, in huge scale, among the flower arrangements and live piano was “quite something”, she says.

“It was a lifetime highlight for sure.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by David Jones (@davidjonesstore)

This was a big win for Castle, personally and professionally. But there was also an importance to this project that went beyond that.

She wanted to bring a bit of positivity to the world in a time that has been challenging for a lot of people — a time fraught with frustration and division.

She and the team at David Jones knew the end of the lockdown wasn’t going to be straightforward, for businesses or for individuals.

There was a “deliberate softness” to the campaign, Castle explains. The team wanted to welcome people back to the retail world, but gently.

“We wanted our messaging to feel like a big hug from a friend. A big joyful colourful one.”

It seems to have resonated. Since the reopening, Castle says she has received messages of support from followers in Sydney and all over Australia, including from people in Melbourne, who say they’re looking forward to their own restrictions easing more than ever.

“Everyone is quite emotional about the end of lockdown,” she says.

“It really was the loveliest project to work on.”

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