Designer Rachel Pally has always had an eye for design and a natural sense of style. She studied Cultural Geography and Dance at Berkeley (where she also worked in the costume shop), and it was her lifelong love of dance that became her ultimate design inspiration, with the fluidity of movement finding its parallel in the way fabric can be so beautifully used to both accentuate certain parts of the body and draped to hide others. She created her first capsule collection just out of college and sold it door-to-door at notable LA brick and mortars. Since the official launch of the Rachel Pally label in 2002, the line has grown to include her plus-sized White Label in 2007 and Rachel Pally Baby just last year. Her collection is now sold in more than 500 stores internationally and online at ShopBop and her own site and has attracted celebrity fans from Oprah to Angelina. Rachel lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and their son, Tao.
How did your former career prepare you for running your own business? This is my first job other than babysitting. I started straight out of college.
What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome before launching your business? I didn’t think about that when I started. I just jumped in with two feet.
How long were you in business before you started to see real growth? What do you attribute that to? I started to see it right away but I didn’t really start to turn a profit until I’d been in business for awhile; in the beginning most people have to reinvest what they make in order to get the flow going. But I think I saw growth quickly due to taking chances and not taking no for an answer. It also helped that I was in the right place at the right time with a relevant product and that I was not afraid of failure!
How did you fund your dream? I had saved a little bit of money babysitting in college and my parents bought me two rolls of fabric for my birthday after I graduated. I still have never taken a loan for my business!
How do you organize your day to best optimize your time? Describe a day in your life. Now that I have a son, Tao, I try to spend as much time as possible at home. I spend my mornings with him and then head in to work by 10am. I work non-stop at the office until I leave around 4pm. I’d rather jam it all into a few hours and then go home than dilly-dally at the office! I can’t wait to get home at the end of the day to play with Tao – sometimes we go for a bike ride, just play in the sandbox or go for a swim if the weather is nice -which it usually is here in LA!
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be… A midwife.
Five years from now I see myself and my company… Continuing to grow!
The key to balancing it all is… To relax and take the pressure off. As a working mother, I always feel like I’m missing out. If I’m with my son I’m missing work and if I’m at work I’m missing my son. The key to balancing it all is to be content where you are and give it your complete focus. And to be reasonable about it – it’s hard to find the balance! There are only 24 hours in the day.
If I had to do it all over again I would… Do it all the same. I love the life I have created!
The most important thing I have learned so far… My dad always told me not to freak out about things I can’t control. It is such great advice and relevant for parenting as well as business.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
I am most proud of… My son, Tao. And the fact that I grew him in my body! How cool is that?
My favorite getaway is… My family’s rustic cabin in Northern California. I love the sound of the river, the smell of the trees, the crispness of the water, and the quiet. It’s my favorite place. I also love going to Hanalei Bay in Kauai – such a sleepy town and a perfect beach, and it’s very easy with a baby!
My favorite nail polish, lipstick, or scent is… I always wear a nude polish on my toes but that’s probably because I NEVER get pedicures. You can’t tell as much with a nude polish! And I love a bright lipstick – today I’m wearing a hot pink one from YSL.
My favorite TV show or movie is… Game of Thrones. I have been waiting with bated breath for it to come back!
I try to achieve mindfulness by… Meditating for six minutes a day, although I haven’t done it in two years.
My favorite authoris… Haruki Murakami. He’s brilliant and quirky and funny and charming and I have read almost everything he’s written.
One talent I wish I had is… Organization. I wish I were more organized. I just pile things up and then put piles on the piles. It overwhelms me but I just don’t have the knack for it!
A woman who inspires me is… My mom. She’s creative and kind and funny and smart and interesting and talented and loving and strong. Just how I want to be!
One thing I hope to pass along to my children is… Wanderlust!
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time”
- John Lennon.