Tuesday 19 November 2013

2Inspire Profile Interview: Rachel Holland

In this profile interview we meet the amazing Rachel Holland, a highly successful fashion stylist, consultant and art director who has worked with designers and publications from across the world. 
Rachel Holland
Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
It depends on what sort of project that I've got on, but if it's a non-photoshoot day then I usually start the day with plenty of tea and checking through my emails, then replying to any of the urgent ones. I then go through my calender and look through my days to-do list, what's scheduled in and if I have meetings, appointments or events that I need to go to.
On a photoshoot day, the day usually involves me being picked up early in the morning with all of my rails, samples and styling kit and am taken to the set, where I meet the team and setup with my assistant.
So, if it's a non photoshoot day then I work through my list of requirements such as, having informal meetings via phone or skype with my creative team, designing moodboards for styling and art direction visuals, sourcing specific clothing items or pouring through various lookbooks or coming up with ideas for future work. Then there's the admin side of things, the finances and invoicing, the usual sort of business work that everyone has to do! Then I may go to a few press agencies to pull some pieces for an upcoming shoot, it really depends on what projects I have on and what's been asked of me in the brief. I always try to make sure that at the very least I go for a walk or try to get to the gym on days like these and I also keep up to date with what's happening in the world of art, news, politics, science and fashion.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
It really started by accident, though I've worked for myself in some capacity since I graduated from university. My business started when I was made redundant from a job that I really loved, so I decided to venture out on my own, as I really enjoy to be creatively free with my own work. I started off not really knowing what I was doing and then as time went on my role as a 'prop designer', 'set stylist', 'designer', 'consultant' and 'writer' and all of the other things that I was doing narrowed down to 'stylist' as this was what was the most in demand skill from me and also what I was being hired to do. Gradually the other work faded away, though it still comes in handy now as I still draw on the these other skills when needed.

Once I got into the swing of things as a regular stylist, I set myself up as a business and  I've worked onwards from there. I like the idea of going back into my previous skills now that I'm more established to really evolve my work deeper as a creative and also to develop some new projects.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
It's hard to pinpoint what is my greatest accomplishment when I view all of my achievements as good in their own way. I feel that my greatest moment has been producing work that I'm really proud of personally, rather than following the crowd of what's on trend or popular right now. Everytime that I achieve something that I know is completely original, then I feel fulfilled. For me that's more important than anything else.
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
This has been without a doubt getting myself established and being taken seriously as a creative within the industry. Fashion is a notoriously difficult industry to get involved in and the boundaries and rules of normal business change within it. Lots of people give up because it's so hard to infiltrate, but I've weathered the storm and been very determined and ultimately I've tried to work progressively towards my goals, making my work speak for itself rather than trying to gain instant recognition from my peers.

What are your future plans for the business?
At the moment I'm looking at that intensely...asking myself what is the next step and where do I want to be in a few years time. I still haven't 100% answered that for myself so I couldn't commit to an answer right now. All I know is that it will be developing my work further in the areas that interest me and being less of a people pleaser. Plus I'm toying with the idea writing a book amongst other things!

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would go and get more industry experience before officially starting my work by shadowing other people in the industry and gaining confidence that way. I entered the industry blind with only my creative skills in place. I had no idea how things worked and I underestimated the difficulty of establishing myself, I had to figure it all out on the job, as I went along. It was intense!

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Because women have a history of being pushed back or for being scared to ask for more, at least in my experience it happened many times to me when I was in employment. That's behind a lot of the reasons that I started wanting to work for myself, because even though you can work with lovely, modern people, ideas of sexism are still rife. In my employment history I would often land very good jobs with lots of responsibilty, managing teams of people in a mostly male enviroment and yet I'd still be expected to do the washing up, empty the recycling bins and make everyone tea as part of my job. That sort of treatment led me away from wanting to work for another business as it continued to happen over and over again even when I was promoted! That and being spoken over in meetings or not getting sufficient credit for my work, it became tiring.
I believe that the future lies in women being able to start profitable businesses from the kitchen table, with almost nothing and leading the way for a new generation of girls to create their own pathway and dream job rather than looking for approval elsewhere. Businesses created on our own terms that have a positive impact on each other and society, I wish that I had started working full-time for myself much sooner!

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Realise that you're not going to get where you want to be overnight and you will have to work harder than you've ever worked for the first few years to become established. Get some experience shadowing someone who's career you aspire to and learn everything that you possibly can from them. Also, build up your own visual language, define what makes you excited creatively and start working towards creating your own visual identity. Then take baby steps towards your goals, allowing room to make mistakes and experiment. Also realise that the fashion industry is a very small world, so be mindful of your actions, don't step on another person to get where you want to be quickly, take your time and created a trusted name for yourself. In the long run you'll be glad that you did this. Also, trust yourself, your gut instinct will tell you the right path for you.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
The people who inspire me in business are the people doing things differently, on their own terms, with kindness, integrity and who are making the world better in their own unique way. A few people or companies that are inspiring me personally at the moment are Danielle La Porte, The World Land Trust, Greenpeace, Satya, Kirsty Mitchell, Cereal Magazine, Marianne Williamson, and fashion-wise All Walks Beyond the Catwalk.
Check them out, you won't regret it!

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Be the change that you want to see in the world.

Rachel Holland

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