My Journey From Stylist to CEO

Just a few decades ago it was the norm to have a career and be married to that chosen profession—the workforce had a handful of jobs with defined responsibilities, and the road to success was a clear one.

That is what the workforce was all about when I started my career nearly 20 years ago, but since my very first day as a stylist I knew it wasn’t in my DNA to conform. Instead I decided I was going to find success by doing what I loved and expressing that passion in as many ways (and through as many jobs) as possible.

Rachel with her clients, The Backstreet Boys.

Throughout the course of my career, I have always been extremely dedicated and taken my work very seriously. It was through this intense focus that I was able to master my craft and figure out what I was really good at. At the same time I didn’t want to define or compartmentalize any one part of my career. My incessant desire to learn through experience and realize my passion and dreams propelled me to continue to explore ways I could do more. My goal was to think of each job as a valuable education—any mistakes would only help me learn. In my early years as a stylist I collaborated with major designers, consulted with top brands and dressed men, women, pop stars, actors, models and iconic public figures—even royalty. I was involved in every defining part of the process, starting with the fabric and sketching to flying around the world for fittings and, of course, being there on the day-of to make sure the execution was seamless.

I was constantly trying to explore new areas of interest and do what was unexpected. I believe in my heart that this is what organically led me to editing, designing and the TV world. I wanted to give people access to the never-before-seen world of fashion and share the feeling of glamour I strived to achieve for my clients. I knew I somehow needed to help more people feel empowered and confident. I soon realized I was in a unique position to inspire those around me. I wanted the world to know that having a red carpet moment was not reserved for just celebrities—everyone should have those special moments in their lives! Once I realized I could empower people in that way, I knew it was what I was meant to do.

Fast forward to 2016: Today, the Rachel Zoe brand is comprised of a bicoastal team of almost 50 people, some of who have been with me since the beginning. I am the Creative Director of my eponymous collection, Editor-in-Chief of The Zoe Report, the Creative Officer for a team of trained stylists, co-founder and Creative Director for the luxury salon DreamDry and have an expansive social media following. I am also the CEO of my multifaceted company and—above all—I’m a mother of two. My life has significantly changed since I began my career nearly two decades ago and with each passing year, I continue to ask myself how I can be better and do more, all while learning how to juggle the ever-expanding brand I have spent years building.

I understood the importance of innovation very early in my career. In order to get to the next level I knew I had to continuously reevaluate my role and push myself out of my professional comfort zone. I took the tools I acquired as a stylist and refocused them in ways that inspired and empowered people. As a designer, I have found my customers want more from me than glamorous evening dresses.

"I knew I had to continuously reevaluate my role and push myself out of my professional comfort zone."

I find myself utilizing the skills I acquired in my 20 years as a stylist to design pieces that give the modern woman an effortless feeling of glamour. As the Editor-in-Chief of The Zoe Report, I—along with my team—maintain an incredibly critical eye when curating content for the site. In the same way I hustled throughout my 20s, running from one runway show to another at New York Fashion Week to seek out the best pieces for my clients, I now help produce the highest quality content on The Zoe Report.

I always say that everything comes full circle—I know I couldn’t be where I am today without the years of experience and education I received as a stylist. I spent decades learning and studying people, figuring them out on both an emotional and physical level. I also learned a great deal about the practicality of fabrics and silhouettes and the way a piece should fit. Being a stylist for 20 years gave me the foundation to build the multifaceted brand I have today.

Nearly 20 years ago I started my career as a stylist, and it has been a constant, thrilling and exciting hustle. Since then, I’ve grown from stylist to entrepreneur and CEO to my most important role, that of a mother—all of this with the help of my exceptional team and husband-slash-business partner Rodger. It’s been an incredible adventure, and I don’t regret a single thing. I can only be grateful and look forward to continuing to evolve, learn and grow—and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.