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Rachel McKinley was born and raised in small town Manitoba. After careers as a competitive ice dancer, social support worker, and paramedic, she obtained degrees in microbiology and English literature at the University of Manitoba. It was during he second degree that she fell in love with the alchemy of chocolate, and abandoned her path towards medical school for a career in the kitchen. After starting with studies online, she went on to train in chocolate in Montreal, Minneapolis, New York, Paris, Florence and Pisa, and opened her business in Vancouver, CocoaNymph Chocolates & Confections, which she owned and operated for 10 years. More interested in inventing new chocolates than running a business, she pursued a career in product development. She is now an instructor at Ecole Chocolat, the head chocolatier at Purdys Chocolatier, and a freelance product developer for multiple companies in the US. She also went on to study drawing and painting at Emily Carr and is an obsessive scupltor, maker of fine food and embroidered goods, and is working on her first novel.
How do you define creativity and apply it in your life and career? Creativity is everything – it is how we solve any problem and move forward. I really believe it is about exploring all of the angles to a problem or task and only taking the easiest path when it is the right one. To me, the key to this is collaboration and community – getting the input and participation of others as much as possible.
Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy? In boredom. I get my best inspiration and draw energy from quiet time alone, resting, when my mind is free to wander and make new connections and plans for new projects.
What’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person? I wish someone had told me that I AM AN ARTIST. I didn’t feel like a creative person or a maker as a young person, and when I gave myself permission to be that, my whole life changed.
Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings? My first thought is Patrick Roger, a chocolatier from France who has distinguished himself as a sculptor in the art world by creating chocolate sculptures, creating molds from them and then casting them in metals to make them permanent. I deeply admire his work and process.
My one guilty creative indulgence is classes – I will take a class on skillshare, udemy, with a human, anything that’s offered really! It’s evidenced by two degrees, a certificate in fine arts from Emily Carr, classes in writing from UBC and SFU, and more. It’s only guilty because I am already busy and I can’t concentrate on one form.
The best surprise I have experienced in my life was the moment an art director I was working with called Andrew told me he was not, as I had believed, a married man, and that we should go out for coffee. We’ve been together ever since.