A Public Relations girl who is doing it her way, we came to know and love Rachel Gordon because of her genuine spirit and sense of style. When you meet Rachel offline, she is what she seems to be on the Internet and that matters. Rachel is a recent grad who we know will take the world by storm, especially since she’s already conquered NYC. We can’t wait to see how she engages the worlds of PR and branding and believe deeply in her energy. Get into our interview with Rachel below and stay up to date with her work via her website or IG @personallyrachel.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Who are you and where are you headed?
My name is Rachel Gordon. I come from a big South Philadelphia family full of love and endless support. I moved to New York City to attend college and found my passion for people, life, and my “aesthetic” (lol). Currently I’m based out of NY but have some plans to relocate to a secret somewhere – let’s just say I’m headed West.
I first came into contact with you/your work via your blogging of a few years ago. How did you make the shift from blogger to founder of your own PR firm, Personally Rachel Group and involvement with Fifty Shades of Magic? Who inspired you?
I stopped blogging when I realized I was no longer genuinely producing content I was passionate about. It became just posting outfits because I felt like I couldn’t quit what I started. The shift happened when I realized not only was I so young but, (you can shift at any age or point in life!), its MY life. I had to do what was true to my spirit and the rest followed. I started producing events, helping people shape their brands, advising and before I knew it people on campus were referring to me as Personally Rachel – that’s when I knew I could build a successful brand for myself and others. I went to work and researched the legalities of creating a business, did my homework, and actualized it.
Fifty Shades of Magic, came to be just over a year ago. I came to the realization that I was surrounded and inspired by so many powerful, headstrong women around me- but not everyone is so blessed. I had people like my friend and roommate @DJNylaSymoneee who I watch grind day in and day out who push me on my off days to be creative, independent, and live my life for myself. I wanted to collaborate with all my girlfriends to inspire, uplift and embrace everyone from girls in middle school to young professionals and entrepreneurs.
I fell in love with your spirit because of what you put out into the world via the internet. When we met in person, I was so happy the two aligned and truly felt like I was having brunch with a friend I’d known for a while. Talk to me about how good branding can serve as a bridge to relationships, engagements, and opportunities.
I literally had this convo with a friend last week. Often times you make these “BFFs in your head,” via social media and you finally come into contact or connect with them and its like “Wait who is this?” I never want that to be me! I try to be as transparent as possible on my social media outlets. I struggle some days like everyone else, but I push myself and being that inspiration for someone else on Monday then leaning on them to do the same for me on Wednesday is what I love about social media – and its nuts because it can be someone you’ve never met ever (like you Gab!). Branding yourself is super important no matter what industry or field you’re in. Health, Fashion, Art, Journalism, Business – anyone you want to work with, for, or get to know is going to check out your social networks. You want to put your best foot forward and represent yourself as best you can while remaining true to you. I don’t really believe in those IG rules of not following people first etc. I follow strangers all day long! I get inspired by random girls from cities I’ve never been to and that is how I remain creative and inspired. When it comes to socials, algorithms are ever-changing but simply following or liking one person’s page can lead you to a host of other users that have platforms or connections that will be useful for you so go for it aka spend time scrolling because you’ll be doing it anyway!
From Philly, you’ve spent the last few years in NYC at St. John’s University pursuing your undergraduate degree (congrats on graduation btw!). How did you navigate NYC’s creative spaces and begin to create both a name and lane for yourself within them?
Thanks! New York will only swallow you if you let it. I came to NYC never having even visited once (even though I was only two hours away). The day after I moved into my dorm, I got on the train to the Lower East Side to a stylists apartment for an interview as an assistant. My dad was mortified having watched too many episodes of Law and Order SVU and was convinced it would mess with my first semester grades but I was determined. I spent that semester lugging around suitcases, learning the trains while sweating to make shoots and celebrity client fittings on time while managing to make Dean’s List. I like to think anything is possible. It sounds cliché but it really is all about mindset. I was eager to learn. If you possess that kind of drive and passion it’s much easier to achieve your goals. Absorbing those lessons and starting at the bottom helped me to establish myself, have experience to fall back on, create mentor relationships, and grow into PRG.
What opportunities do you see for women/women of color/girls like you in the field of public relations and how to do intend to positively influence them? Or, how are you already influencing them? (I’m thinking of FSM here).
I think there’s so much to be said for where the black woman is right now. We’ve always been amazing but it seems the world is now taking note with no signs of being able to slow us down. I see women of color being able to be unaplogetically creative in the PR industry. We’re needed. Companies (even corporate) can’t have 10 white men creating and weighing in on brands anymore – it’s not working. They need us. With this in mind, I’m hoping to instill that confidence into young women. FSM’s aim is to do just that. Build up these girls at a young age to have this mindset for both themselves and their community of girlfriends. Community and support will make all the difference!
What message would you give millennial WOC trying to break into PR?
Don’t give anyone a reason to say no and if they do, don’t accept it. Do your homework, outwork everyone, outwork yourself from the day before, be genuine in your efforts, cater to your creativity. I’ve received so many no’s and they’ve made way for the even more lifechanging yes’s.
What can we expect from you moving forward? How can we be of support?
I’m continuing to build my boutique firm and will be accepting more clients soon (so if you’re interested shoot us an email!) and making a move to expand the brand geographically. Support wise, stay up to date with FSM initiatives + events and please do let me know if there are brands, people etc. that you think the firm or FSM can collaborate with – we’re all about collaboration!
In the end, how do you want your story depicted? What legacy do you want to leave behind?
Ah, so loaded. I want my legacy to tell a story of “reaching as I climb.” I tell my mentees all the time I pray they’re more successful than me. I want my life story to show how I never gave up but, better yet how I passed those lessons on to those coming after me. If I live the purpose God has given me, change some lives, and laugh along the way, that will be enough.
Just for kicks:
Philly or NYC?
Erykah or Lauryn?
Lauryn for sure.
ASATT or Lemonade?
Lemonade – I have a Beehive membership card.
@Jahfinesse on Instagram