University of Washington - B.A. Political Science
FIDM - Professional Designation Apparel Industry Management
"Never be afraid to pursue your dreams, and don't be afraid if you don't know exactly what you want to do," says Rachel Richardson, someone who can vouch for those words all too well. Years ago, Rachel worked in the legal industry for years and had her sights set on law school, until she realized that a life in the court room just wasn't for her. She wanted a job that was more artistic and creatively fulfilling, as well as more flexible.
While still working in her legal job, Rachel found the seed to what would become her next step. Deciding she wanted to model, Rachel visited a local agency and found work as a part-time fit model for several national brands. The experience opened her eyes to a new profession — exposing her to garment design and construction, as well as fit. Her understanding of the plus-size market began to grow, and so did her realization that there was an incredible demand for contemporary, plus-sized clothes.
Rachel took her new passion and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of attending fashion school. Upon graduation, she was looking for the right kind of job that would satisfy her craving for knowledge and fashion, and through her alumni network she heard about Stylus, a design and inspiration resource that provides businesses with trend forecasting and strategic insights. In her job as client services manager, Rachel finally found her perfect fit — interacting with clients on a daily basis and the opportunity to exercise that creativity that motivates her so much.
You never know who may be sitting next to you on a plane, at a dinner party or in a bar.
How did you discover your current job?
I found my job through the FIDM Alumni Association, networking and months of thorough research. I can't stress enough the importance of building a solid network. (I wasn’t even aware that a job like mine existed until I started researching). I've actually been following I Want Her Job since its inception because I was fascinated to know what jobs were out there!
What does your typical job schedule and day look like?
One of the nice perks about my job is that I don’t really have a typical day. I could be traveling to visit clients on site, hosting a workshop or seminar, responding to email/research requests, guiding clients through the site and translating trends. (On the days that I am in the office, I generally start around 9 a.m.)
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Meeting all different kinds of people and working with my clients on their projects to help them translate trends. I help them connect the dots from the material on the site to their current concepts -- allowing them see the connection between consumer behavior, color, technology, pop culture, media etc. I love when a client comes to me with a concept that they would like to explore further and an idea is sparked by the Stylus content I've presented. I love my current job because it allows me to utilize my business background and creative side.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Professionally: Thinking of new ways to engage clients and really make the content on the site come alive for them.
Personally: Starting my own business -- brainstorming new ideas, concepts and the translation of my designs from concept to production to market.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
One of the things I love about my job is the flexibility. I can work from any location and I am constantly on the go. Balance is very important to me, so I would say I do a good job of not letting work take over my life! I make it a point to schedule time for friends, family, events, working out and downtime. It's not easy, but I've learned balance is essential to my happiness.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
Stay proactive and be confident -- whether that be through workshops to expand your knowledge and skill base, or through building your network personally and professionally. This is especially important for me because a huge part of my job is maintaining and growing the client base we currently have. I am constantly looking for new opportunities to expand our brand.
Who are your role models?
I've been lucky to be surrounded by so many phenomenal women in my life. My grandmother, mother and close friends have been role models for me. Some of my friends own their businesses or are at the top of their careers because they are savvy and have a great work ethic. When you are surrounded by strong, creative, successful, business savvy role models, it can't help but rub off on you!
What are some of the rules you live by?
I'm a huge believer in networking. You never know who may be sitting next to you on a plane, at a dinner party or in a bar. I've met some of my closest friends and business associates because I started a conversation with them! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, never settle and follow your passion. If you would have asked me five years ago where I'd be, I never would have imagined I'd be working in the role that I am or that I'd be living in Los Angeles! I'd also say that being confident in everything you do is huge!
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in researching trends and developing insights?
Listen to your clients and really understand what it is that they are looking for. Be observant and think outside the box -- it's really easy to think that fashion is the primary source for trends. I've worked with fashion and technology clients who pulled ideas from hospitality innovators. I'm constantly reading blogs, looking at art exhibits, exploring new technology, retail trends and looking at consumer behavior. Trends and insights are everywhere.
What advice do you have for women who want your job?
My job is really about interacting with different types of personalities on a daily basis. A great skill to have is the natural ability to connect and converse with anyone from the CEO to their assistant. You need to be outgoing, well spoken and above all have confidence in yourself. It helps to have a creative background and a good business sense, too.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I am always looking to grow professionally and personally. Of course I would love to grow in my current role (and luckily there is plenty of room to do so). Ultimately, the next big step will be launching a plus-size clothing line.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes! Never be afraid to pursue your dreams and know that it's ok if you if don’t know exactly what you want to do! I started out thinking I wanted to attend law school but after years of working in the legal profession, I realized it wasn’t for me. I was more of an artistic person at heart and the legal profession wasn’t fulfilling me. I also wanted a position that allowed for more flexibility.
While working in legal, I decided I wanted to model. I visited a local agency and found work part time as fit model for several national brands. This opened my eyes to a whole new profession that lead to understanding garment design, construction and fit. I started to understand the plus-size market better and realized there was a huge need for contemporary, stylish plus-sized clothes. (I was hooked!) I knew that I wanted to work in some sort of creative role and design clothes for plus sizes. I was eventually laid off from my legal role and decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of attending fashion school. Upon graduation, I realized I needed to find the right fit for me, and that’s actually how I ended up choosing my current position. It’s the perfect combination because I get to interact with a diverse group of clients on a daily basis and utilize my business and creative skills.