It was a combined love of the Lake District and creativity which inspired Rachel Gaw to start her business Go Your Own Way three years ago.

Now, with a little help from dad Jim, her products sell throughout Cumbria and beyond.

Rachel studied 3D design at Staffordshire University, specialising in contemporary jewellery.

She then did a PGCE at University of Cumbria and was working in pastoral support as deputy safeguarding officer at Workington Academy when she started the business.

She credits partner Peter - a keen cyclist, climber and kite surfer - with helping her renew her love of the outdoors and providing the initial spark of inspiration for the business.

“We were out in our campervan and I had started drawing again and Peter was telling me how good they were,” says Rachel.

“That’s when it started really with those little sketches.”

She began by selling miniature sketches on key rings, but soon expanded the range of products, which now include art, clothing and accessories, many of them inspired by the Lake District.

One of the most successful items has been a stick-on decal of her logo, which is popular with campervan owners and which has been bought as far afield as California.

"The last three years have just gone really, really quickly," says Rachel.

"I went full time with the business last September, in my shed in the back garden and it's grown from strength to strength.”

Rachel’s products have featured in an array of outdoor magazines as well as The Guardian and in 2019 she was recognised by Theo Pathitis as one of his Small Business Sunday winners.

She tweeted about her business to the Dragons’ Den star and was one of six weekly winners to gain a retweet.

In February last year she attended the #SBSevent2020 in Birmingham to meet Theo, receive her award and attend master classes in social media, finance and marketing.

Her products are stocked at businesses around the county, including outdoor shop Catstycam, in Glenridding, as well the Grasmere Gingerbread shop.

Rachel, who lives in Workington, also makes bespoke products for specific businesses, such as a gingerbread man shaped ornament with a map of Grasmere on it for the gingerbread shop, an idea she hopes to expand for other Cumbrian food producers this Christmas.

She is also planning to try and increase the number of stockists in the coming year.

Rachel says around 70 per cent of her trade is online, with 20 per cent via stockists and the remainder sold at events and shows.

“Twitter has been the hidden gem in all of this for me," she says.

"There's a strong network of walkers and outdoor enthusiasts on Twitter. On Instagram there's a lot of people on there, but I need to find and attract the people who buy the gifts for those people, not those people themselves; the mums, the dads, the aunties, the uncles.”

Rachel also puts a strong focus on personalising gifts for customers.

"There's a lot of time and effort that goes into each piece," she says.

"However, you build a strong customer relationship with it because those people come back."

She makes the vast majority of the products herself (a small number of coloured T-shirts are printed elsewhere in the UK) with some help from her dad Jim, a retired mechanical design engineer.

“I'd really like to work with an apprentice, especially over the busier months,” says Rachel, who is also a freelance project coordinator for Cumbria Youth Alliance’s positive role model support service in Copeland.

“I would love to work with somebody who could come and help me with the business and learn something. I suppose that’s the teacher inside of me coming out.

"I'd love to get to sell on Not on the High Street because that's just another avenue where I think the products would work really well and to also broaden the reach in stockists. I guess that's where another person would come in really useful. They could maybe focus on the wholesale side of things and I could do the retail and face-to-face.”