Rachel began a new career as a model aged 46 and since then has been flying the flag for misunderstood and misrepresented women everywhere, particularly those in midlife, showing that they are not invisible in the fashion industry.
Our paths first crossed in The Enterprise Collective facebook group when I introduced myself and Rachel replied to invite me on her podcast “Out of the Bubble". We've been in touch since then and Rachel recorded a facebook interview with me in July 2020. Now I want to turn things around and put Rachel in the career change spotlight because as well as sharing other people's stories, she has some fascinating ones of her own! My questions include: What contributed towards your decision to take a different course in your career? How did you move beyond any worries, fears or challenges? What goes on behind the scenes of your career in modelling? And more!
What contributed towards your decision to take a different course in your career?
It was never a burning ambition to become a model although I’ve always loved fashion. I’d actually gained an Education Studies degree in my early forties as I thought that I would still be working as an early year’s teacher now. My home life circumstances changed due to my eldest daughter becoming ill, so it left me taking a step back and being at home again which was a very difficult time and that really knocked my confidence. I’d volunteered in a local fashion show and loved it so after 4 or 5 years of doing it people suggested I give it a try. I went into this with no real expectation but am now very driven and determined to make this work for me because I love it so much.
Was there anything holding you back before you started your modelling work?
I really struggled with self confidence in my twenties and thirties, so I found a new inner confidence once I turned 40 which had helped me dare to dream bigger and not be as scared of failure.
How did you move beyond any worries, fears or challenges that you had about changing career and modelling in particular?
I challenged myself a lot and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible because I knew for me it was the only way I could grow and break down some of those barriers that held me back previously. I took part in two tandem skydives, volunteered in orphanages in Uganda and India and really tried to broaden my mind. I found a real sense of drive within me that I knew I had to keep following this new path and even when I got scared about it, which I definitely did, I was determined not to let those fears stop me. I’m a big fan of journaling so writing pros and cons lists down and affirmations of all the things I’d achieved so far helped.
What impact has your change in career had on your life?
It’s had a huge impact on my mental well-being because I’m doing something that I love and I'm passionate about. Creating the podcast has given me a real sense of purpose too which I’m very proud of. I’m so much more confident now and have found more motivation and drive than I’ve ever had when I was younger.
Why do you choose the brands that you represent?
To be honest it’s usually the other way around and they come to my agency and want to work with me. I do have a long list of brands that I really want to work with, and I’ve been lucky to have worked with some of those that send out a positive message for older women and are inclusive. Lockdown has made me think a lot about the fashion industry as we’ve all been buying less new clothes and I’d definitely like to work with more sustainable and ethical fashion brands.
What message do you hold close throughout your work as a model and as a podcast host?
That I am enough just as I am. I turned 50 this year and I’m not going to start changing myself to fit in with brands to get work, if I’m the right fit that’s great, if not I have to trust there will be others where I will be.
What goes on behind the scenes of your career in modelling?
I love my job and lots of it can be very glamorous, having your hair and make-up done and getting to wear lots of beautiful clothes. It can be quite boring too though, there’s lots of hanging around whilst they set the lighting and sets up etc, so I always take a good book and my laptop with me. I enjoy meting new people, so I find working with different people each time really good fun and helps keep it fresh.
Where do you choose to spend your time when you're not working and what role does nature and/or adventure play in your life?
I grew up in Ilkley and have lived around here all of my life, so I feel lucky to have been surrounded by the moors and so much nature. I’m definitely a country girl at heart, whilst I love working in London and travelling, I always like to come back to Yorkshire. I have a 13-year-old Hungarian Viszla, so dog walking has played a big part of my outdoor daily routine but he’s an old man now, so I often have to leave him at home when we want to do longer walks. During lockdown I really enjoyed wild swimming in the river, and I hope I continue with that now as its such a therapeutic thing to do once you get past the cold. I’m not a huge gym lover and definitely prefer exercising outdoors. I’m currently working on a book where I’m interviewing 20 women who have reinvented themselves or achieved amazing challenges after 40. Their stories of adventure are so inspiring, and the idea is that I take on some of these topics to set my own challenges within the next year. I’ve just started running and have signed up for a half marathon next May, so I have lots to keep me busy.
What question would you ask someone who is thinking about a career change but worries about it being too late on in life?
What are you afraid of? Will you regret it if you don’t try?
You can watch Rachel's interviews with women on her facebook page, listen to her podcast - a place to celebrate and inspire women to become more confident in body and mind, follow her on Instagram and Twitter, and read her blog.
The Enterprise Collective (first known as Yorksinstameet) was founded in 2018 with the aim of forming a community of fabulous creative businesses. They offer in depth, online business learning across a variety of business areas and skills, and a brilliant facebook group where you can meet other people who run creative businesses.
Finally, if you have any comments on this post or if you would like to be interviewed by Sarah, please email firstname.lastname@example.org