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Conversations with the Inspiring Rachel Scott

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Scott.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I jumped through a lot of ideas in college about what I wanted to be: a librarian, an astrophysicist, a fashion editor, a graphic designer, a photojournalist, and a book editor are a few of the ideas I had. I was all over the place and decided to finally get my degree in Public Relations, which truthfully just sounded like job security to me.

When I graduated and got out into the world, I realized very quickly that I loved a few things more than the rest: creativity, flexibility, managing and mentoring people and not being stuck to a desk all the time. So, I decided to teach myself graphic design, which felt a bit like climbing Mount Everest has never trained before. For two years, I freelanced and I honestly spent more time failing than succeeding but I learned A TON. One day, I decided that maybe it was time to go try out a normal desk job, so I applied for exactly one job as the Design Manager for the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

I was young and naive and bold and somehow landed the job as a manager of a small design team with no prior management experience and no real design experience besides working for myself. I worked incredibly hard, again learned a ton and grew so much.

My biggest strength was my belief in myself. I didn’t really deep down believe that spending 10 years in the same role made anyone more qualified for anything and I comically believed that if I believed in my own ability to learn, my own strong work ethic and projected those things, I could have any job I wanted and didn’t need to focus on the traditional career ladder.

On a road trip, three years into working at MCA Denver, I casually opened LinkedIn and searched for jobs in every city my friend and I drove through. I saw a job for a Design Manager at Crosley (the company that makes the super cute record players you can buy at Urban Outfitters) and I applied from my phone. Four months later, I had moved across the country to manage a larger design team, with the goal of moving the brand forward and becoming even more well known and hip than before.

I ended up having to move back home and leave that job sooner than I hoped for due to family circumstances. When I came home, I felt a sense of loss, because I’d found my dream job at 25 years old and had to give it up to be closer to my family. I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore, so I took a job as a Creative Project Manager for Sphero, a robotic toys company.

I realized quickly that I needed to go back to being creative and also that I wanted to try something edgier, something more free-spirited. Like the Millenial I am, I left that job after a year and decided to have some downtime to reflect. I delivered groceries for six months to try and make ends meet and the truth was that I LOVED it. I was so thankful to have a gig, rather than a career and I felt my soul recover from 2 years of rapid changes.

Eventually, I found a job at a startup here in Denver called Bootaybag. They hired me as a Marketing Director (see my beliefs in jobs never holding me back from pursuing a title that I’ve never held before!) and I adored the role. I loved being involved in product design, I loved using my social media skills. I loved giving creative direction and nurturing my small but mighty team of four people.

Eventually, I decided that maybe my true north was to open my own company. So, after a while of saving money, I left Bootaybag and decided to open a retail store of my own; combining my design skills with my marketing skills. Well, fate had a twist and I accidentally became a full-time freelance photographer. I’d always done photography for literally every job I worked at and just kept it as a passion that I could offer up to eager employers. It was my icing on the cake. After I left Bootaybag though, I just kept getting hired for photo gigs.

A year and a half later, I have consciously decided to scale back on photography and focus on opening my retail store, Rangestead. The store is focused on Colorado-designed clothing and housewares. I have the goal of re-branding the merchandise of my city to have an elevated aesthetic. I’ll be opening the summer of 2019. Hopefully, after I open, I can try to juggle my photo studio and my retail store and hire people to help me with both.

It has been a long, strange, unorthodox and distinctly millennial road of a career and I’m not even 30 yet! Did I mention I want to write a book? I’m just that kind of person. I want to do everything.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been the opposite of a smooth road, but I am not one to choose the path of least resistance. Some people are happy with 9-5 jobs and having a boss, but that isn’t the life for me. I want to do my own thing, create my own life and sculpt the reality of my career. That choice means long hours, a lot of leaps of faith and sometimes foregoing other things I want (like clothes and vacations) because I have to be conservative with money.

My advice is simple: don’t believe what they tell you. The career ladder doesn’t have to be your path. A rude boss doesn’t have to be your path. A 9-5 schedule, a stable salary, “living your life outside your job” – if these sound like a good thing for you, pursue them. If those things make you cringe and shout “THERE MUST BE MORE,” well there is more. If you believe in yourself, you don’t have to play by the corporate rules, but it will require bravery, trust, and serious tenacity. Learn to sell yourself. Learn to be good at learning.

Also, be a nice girl. I have worked with so many mean girls through the years and it truly opened my eyes. We do not need to be competitive, we need to be supportive. So always always always be a kind woman. You will find connections and value through it.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am known for a few things! I am a small-time social media influencer, which is how a lot of people find me. I resent the term influencer, but that’s what people are calling it. I am also known as a photographer and a graphic designer.

My brand keeps unfolding and 2019 will be a telling year. I am hoping that in 2020, I can say “I own two successful businesses: a retail store and a photography studio.” Right now, my studio is thriving, but things change fast and I am still working to solidify my name as a brand photography studio. Hopefully, my store takes off and I can say more about that someday.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
I haven’t ever really had a mentor, but have always dreamt of becoming one. I hope someday I can be that for someone.

As far as networking, social media, in general, is helpful. I try to be really kind and reach out to other people in my industries. I’m a natural introvert, so you won’t see me frequenting events often because they deplete my batteries. However, when I do go to events, I try to make them count. I love going to Create & Cultivate once or twice a year for major inspo and strong connections.

My advice is to just be yourself and to be kind. You will attract the people you need to attract.

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