Today, I have a beautiful essay from my friend and super talented clothing designer, Rachel Pally. Rachel has been a pioneer in locally made, sustainable, inclusive fashion designs since 2002! Her clothes are timeless, great for all sizes and incredibly comfortable. I truly respect her for opening up about her setbacks and deciding to stay true to herself and her beliefs. I wanted to learn more about Rachel and how she felt about her creativity, especially because she’s been in the business for so many years. What she says is refreshing and encouraging in the roller coaster ride that is creative business.
Photography by Scotty Vance
“When creativity is what pays the bills, it’s easy to fall into a rut where you design for money, and not for pleasure. I hit that wall a couple of years ago.
I was making clothing that my bigger accounts were asking for (but I no longer believed in wholeheartedly), and it had taken me too far off course. I was making cute clothes, they just weren’t the way I envisioned my brand to be going, but I was too afraid to risk my business by steering it into a different direction. In my attempt to minimize risk, I did just the opposite. I didn’t listen to myself and that was the biggest risk of all! And then I found myself unhappy, uninspired, unsatisfied. I was working my butt off and spending my earnings on clothing from other brands. How does that make any sense!?? And honestly, that lack of passion in my work was making my work suffer. I knew it was time to make a change in a real way.
I felt like calling myself a creative wasn’t including the fact that I was letting money run the show, not creativity itself. And now that creativity is back on top, I trust that the business will follow.
For years, I had been making samples in new fabrications – wovens, linens, crepes. But each season, my buyers would say “Cute! So glad you’re taking it in a new direction! But we will just stick with the jersey maxi dresses.” It was so frustrating! But I kept offering newness (I have a professional theme of not taking ‘no’ for an answer!) and eventually my buyers were willing to take a risk with me. It’s been beyond liberating. I have lost some business, but have gained satisfaction and happiness in ways that I haven’t experienced in a long time. I haven’t bought clothing from another brand in over a year – I am making clothing that I love and want to wear. My friends are loving it and wearing it, and they are my demographic! I’m connecting with a network of women online who see the authenticity of my new lines and are ready to support it. The business will build back up, but without having to sacrifice myself and my creativity along the way.
I felt like calling myself a creative wasn’t including the fact that I was letting money run the show, not creativity itself. And now that creativity is back on top, I trust that the business will follow. That’s the way it should be. So glad my family and friends have supported me along the way by encouraging me to take risks and reinvent myself. I know that I can be both creative and business-minded – I just needed the reminder.
I didn’t listen to myself and that was the biggest risk of all!
I just started to take a ceramics class with my husband. For two people who are creative for a living, neither of us have been using our energy to make art for art’s sake! It’s so fun! And it’s so important to re-inspire myself by picking up my guitar and making a mess on a potter’s wheel. I can’t take all of the joy out of creating by worrying if other people will buy something – I have to make what I love and hope that people follow along! Authenticity is the way!”
— Rachel Pally