We're so excited to feature fashion blogger Rachel Ong! We love encouraging young women to pursue their passions, and Rachel is one woman who did just that. After realizing that being a social media marketer was not what she wanted to do with her life, Rachel made a career switch and became a writer for a fashion company. She also fashion blogs at www.rachelandcupcakes.com. Read on to learn more about how she made the switch and what she's doing now!
What social media work were you doing previously? Why did you feel that it was not for you?
I worked in a creative agency that focused on social media marketing, so I ran social media accounts and campaigns for my clients. It was definitely an eye-opener, and the dynamic and volatile nature of the job kept me really driven, but it got to be too overwhelming and I started feeling perpetually high-strung and on edge. I loved the people I worked with through and through, but the job just wasn’t for me.
Why did you decide to take the risk and change careers?
The catalyst for change came when I started questioning if I was making the most of my (very ephemeral!) youth. The answer seemed to be a no because I was working 12 to 14 hour days and instead of feeling fulfilled or accomplished, I was drained and jaded. So I bought myself a new camera and a domain, and started my fashion blog. It was something I’d wanted to do for a long time and I’d hoped it would be an outlet for self-expression and release outside of the office. It was going pretty well for a couple of months when I realised it gave me so much joy, I had to turn it into a career.
What is your current career? How did you get a job in fashion writing? What made you interested in fashion writing?
I’m a copywriter in an luxury fashion e-commerce company. I’ve always loved writing, and the process of self-discovery that my blog set in motion made me realise I had to go back to my editorial roots.
Was there ever a time you felt discouraged during this journey? What kept you going?
Yeah, definitely. You can’t switch careers without being impervious to the possibility that you might regret it, and that can be a daunting thought. Also, I've been fortunate to see a healthy level of interest in my blog, but sometimes you just feel like the momentum you've built up has reached a plateau, you don't have the slightest clue where to go from there. It really is your belief in what you do that keeps you going. My boyfriend has been really instrumental to this entire endeavor too - he reminds me of my passion for what I do and encourages me to keep at it, because the only way to go is up.
How did your friends and family react when you told them you were switching careers?
I don’t think anyone was particularly surprised. It made sense that I was leaving my job for a career in fashion, because I’ve always found great joy in writing and I hardly wear the same thing twice!
Any tips for other fashion bloggers out there?
Don’t let your blog turn into a mere showcase of your face. No one wants to see gratuitous self portraits, so make sure every photo you take and word you write says something about what fashion means to you and offers your readers a new perspective. Also, never compromise quality for quantity - nothing should go out the door until you know you’d be proud to have your name on it.
What trends are you loving right now?
I've been keeping tabs on Spring/Summer Fashion Week shows, and one of my favorite trends is definitely the Edwardian ruffles, lace and accordion collars that were seen at Zimmerman, Fendi and the like. Another trend I love is the classic all-white ensemble, because it’s so pristine, elegant and timeless.
How would you describe your personal sense of style?
Fun! I think many people view dressing up as a functional task, but it’s a very liberating and cathartic creative process for me. I love experimenting with different pieces and aesthetics. Some days I gravitate toward the vintage look, some days it’s bold prints and other days it’s about monotones and a clean silhouette.
Do you own any funky fashion pieces? If so, what are they like and what drew you to them?
My wardrobe is inundated with leopard prints. It’s my guilty pleasure! I have all variations of leoprint print tops, dresses and shoes. I don’t think animal motifs have to be tacky or flamboyant as long as you wear them strategically and pare them down with solid colors.
From where or whom do you get style inspiration from?
My enthusiasm for fashion magazines, Pinterest boards and fashion blogs is off the charts, and whenever I see style ideas I like, I save a screenshot of it on my phone.
For many of us, school has just started. What style tips would you give to students who want to look stylish yet comfortable on campus?
You don’t need a brimming wardrobe to look good. It’s more important to shop strategically so you don’t have to end up wearing the same pieces over and over. Pick out three key pieces - a top, a bottom and a jacket. Then build your wardrobe around it, and make sure everything you shop for matches at least one of those. That’s something I still put into practice myself.
What advice would you give to other women wanting to pursue their passion?
Follow your gut. The opportunity cost of following your passion is sometimes enough to scare you into forgoing the possibility of greener pastures, but I think if you wake up in the morning and go to sleep every night with something at the back of your mind, that’s reason enough to pursue it and see where it leads you. The undo button is always there anyway...most of the time!
Who are some of your favorite fashion influencers?
I love Nicole Warne from Gary Pepper Girl. Her work is stunning and absolutely inspiring, and it’s a prime case for the attention you should pay to the quality of content that you produce. Margaret Zhang and Leandra Medine from Man Repeller are favourites as well - they have great style, but they’re talented writers too. And I love the Olsen twins, who have sort of disappeared into oblivion over the years, but I have a lot of admiration for the work they do with their label The Row. Their designs are so polished and they have an affinity for clean lines and elegant silhouettes that really resonates with me.
Since Singapore is summer all year long, what do you do to diversify your looks?
I don't think summer all year long impedes the diversity of style. In fact that's the beauty of the perpetual summer - that whatever you choose to wear doesn't have to be weather dependent. You can try cooler weather styles by layering a blazer or vest over your outfit or getting adventurous with booties and lightweight scarfs.