From Corporate Success to Creative Triumph: Rachel Drehmel

Discover the transformative journey of Rachel Drehmel, a visionary in the fashion industry who transitioned from corporate success to founding her own brand, racheldrehmelnyc. Through collaboration with industry leaders and a commitment to self-care, Rachel not only overcame burnout but also crafted a brand focused on bringing hygge lifestyle to the bustling streets of New York City. Her insights on brand identity, visual strategy, and future aspirations offer a beacon of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to carve their path in competitive industries. Join us as Rachel shares her story of passion, resilience, and the power of storytelling in shaping a thriving business.

Can you share more about your personal journey from working in the corporate fashion industry to starting your own brand?

The corporate fashion industry brought an important mentor and friend into my life who propelled me to start my business. Emily Volaski, founder of the elevated jewelry brand, SKN Collections, as well as the VP at my corporate job, asked me to collaborate on a 2023 summer collection followed by a photoshoot in the heart of NYC. This opened up a whole new world of high level design where I was able to reach heights I hadn’t before. Collaborating with someone so skilled, talented, and experienced, was pivotal for my personal growth and the evolution of my brand. Emily and I have connected over numerous coffee dates and phone calls, consisting of her sharing her knowledge with me. I owe much of what I’ve learned to her dedication and care. I’m lucky enough to work with Emily daily in a corporate setting and continue our collaborative relationship.

Secondly, moving to NYC to climb the corporate ladder of success had been my “dream!” I entered the corporate fashion industry 2 years ago with lots of ambition and drive for my career. Now, I’ve realized it’s not my end goal to work in a corporate setting, but rather design for my own brand. I want to say – it’s ok to change your mind. Life is a journey that’s unfolding in real time. Give yourself permission to dream something new!

How did you overcome fatigue and burnout while pursuing your dream in New York City?

Truthfully, overcoming fatigue and burnout is an ongoing endeavor. This endeavor is the inspiration for emphasizing rest and self-care in my brand’s ethos. My brand focuses on having a hygge lifestyle in New York City. It’s about resting in the city that “never sleeps.” There was a pivotal morning before work where I experienced a stress induced panic attack. Through that difficult time, I realized stress catches up, if you aren’t proactive in self-care. That day and any version of that day since, has been a reminder that I can’t push through life without pausing and reflecting. Through feeling intense moments of fatigue and burnout, I’ve learned coping mechanisms through therapy, meditation, and prayer, to keep my body and mind in homeostasis. It is a continued goal of mine to promote a healthy balance of self-care and work life.

What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own businesses, especially in competitive industries like fashion?

  1. Understand your brand’s identity and revisit it often. Remind yourself why you started the brand and why it’s important. If you don’t understand your brand, no one will.
  2. Ask yourself questions: 1) “Who are the influencers and brands I want to be associated with?” 2) “What other products go well with mine?” 3) “What story am I trying to create with my products?” Place yourself alongside these products to pinpoint your ideal customer. I recommend placing products you want to be associated with in your product’s photography. For me, I love to photograph my accessories with Hailey Bieber’s Rhode product. Paint your brand’s picture!
  3. Develop a visual strategy to represent your brand on social media. I have used a few different strategies for content that have benefitted my brand. 1) There’s professional photoshoots, such as editorial photos, Product Detail Pages (PDP), and behind-the-scenes (BTS) footage. In my experience, consumers positively react to organic content like BTS footage. PDP is important to show consumers exactly what the product is, whereas editorial photos show your product in an emotional, story driven way. 2) There’s self shot content, which are photos of products shared from the lens of the designer/brand owner. These photos are great for Instagram fillers and they’re cost effective for those just starting out! 3) There’s content from your consumers. Not every consumer will portray your brand the way you intend, so it’s important to build your vision strongly and “create” your dream consumer. In other words, you want to market to your ideal consumers so that they not only reflect your brand in the way you intend, but also in a way that’s organic to them and reflects your brand positively. 

What are your future plans and aspirations for racheldrehmelnyc?

This question makes me so excited! The future plans of racheldrehmelnyc involve becoming the leading lifestyle brand for health & wellness. I want my brand to feel like brewing coffee on a brisk, early morning with the window open; Like an evening after a productive day with the lights dim, music low, doing whatever her heart desires. That’s the story I want to portray. See, I told you to tell a story! 

To achieve greater heights, I have a few current strategies. Firstly, there are “IT” girls (celebrities and influencers) that I keep on my radar who encompass my brand values. It’s one of my brand milestones to get my product in their hands and as a result, gain loyal customers. Secondly, I’d love to begin working with a factory to expand beyond accessories. Bringing in intimates and loungewear is my next step. Lastly, I have a few pop-up shops scheduled, which I’m thrilled about! Come see me at LoveShackFancy in NYC this summer! More information will be shared on the racheldrehmelnyc Instagram.

Could you share a memorable customer story or feedback that reaffirmed your passion for your business?

Ever since moving to New York, I’ve been told I portray the city in a peaceful way. People are often intimidated by NYC, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to hear how my brand has allowed people to warm up to its charm. 

A memorable story from a pop-up shop comes to mind. I was at my first pop-up shop last year at Rockaway Beach and a customer came up to my booth. She emphasized that I had a peaceful aura and said something along the lines of “I can tell that’s what you’re truly after.” It was surprising for a stranger, who I had just met minutes ago, to reaffirm my brand’s goal for restfulness. Sometimes, it’s the people around you or even the stranger you’ve known for 3 minutes that recognize your strengths and help you realize the power you hold.

Lastly, how can aspiring entrepreneurs connect with you or learn more about your brand?

To any aspiring entrepreneurs, my email (rachel.drehmel@gmail) or instagram dm’s (@racheldrehmelnyc) are always open. I love the way social media brings about community and love to connect! Please don’t hesitate to reach out <3

by Harness Editor

Harness believes that freedom of expression equals female empowerment. The truth? We’re a badass authentic community of fierce women, and we exist to help your voice be heard. Harness is here to be your safe haven. A place to shed the competition, the insecurities. This is a place to rise by lifting others. This is who we are.


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