Founder & President, GlamourGals Foundation, Inc
Posted on: February 21, 2012 | Go to profile
At age 17, Rachel established the first GlamourGals “GG” Chapter to honor her grandmother. Bringing generations together to fight elder isolation through makeovers and manicures, Rachel knows how to transform an atmosphere with color, conversation and laughter. Through tens of thousands of makeovers, Rachel has mobilized 1200 volunteers in 63 chapters to use makeup as a tool to make meaningful connections.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: I think my professional career began as a kid. I would always take something to the next level. I was a babysitter almost every weekend. I noticed that my clients had really messy closets and I started organizing them when I put their kids to bed. They started tipping me and soon hiring me to reorganize closets.
I discovered my entrepreneurial passion at College. Cornell University gave me so many resources to explore my skills. After graduation, I had a host of temp jobs (I think that would be a whole other book of stories) but finally landed my first position as an office manager of a growing motion graphics firm. I shared that in one month if they didn’t give me a pay raise and benefits, they could fire me. Needless to say, I later became a producer there and worked on one of their largest accounts.
Throughout this journey, on the weekends or before or after my full time job, I would work on GlamourGals. This is a program I started in high school and that captured the eye of Oprah, CBS and the NY Times all in one year. About four years ago, I took over GlamourGals full time and continue to manage and grow the organization, which now has three full time employees and 1200 volunteers in 63 volunteer chapters.
Q: What are 3 characteristics that you believe define great leadership?
A: Listening, thinking, doing.
Q: It’s hard to focus on the “big picture” sometimes because we can get caught in the weeds of work and life. When does visioning come clearest or easiest for you? Or what inspires your vision?
A: I keep notepads and lists of things I need to do everywhere. I sometimes re-write a to do list three times in one day. I do this because it keeps me focused on the tasks daily that allow me to keep the broader mission forward. It also frees up some “brain space” to think about the long term. I am inspired every time I meet a teen and senior that is touched by the program. When I hear their story and how their life has changed.
Q: Can you share a story of how networking led to a great success?
A: I think for the college student it is taking advantage of every speaker or special event your school offers or for the professional, going to that event or party that you know no one at.
I attended an entrepreneurship conference at school and a professor was asking me to explain what I do in between the seminars. It turns out a woman listening to my story was so moved and interested that she tracked me down in the auditorium before the next speaker and handed me a check. That was really cool.
Q: What are your top 3 tips for networking?
A: Ask questions about the person you meet. Be a good listener. Always remember to say thank you, it is a great way to begin or end a conversation.
ON Starting Out
Q: If you had a young sister or a daughter who was a senior in college, anxious about landing her first job or unsure of what she wanted to do, what would your advice be to her?
A: Never be “above work.” As someone who started something I can tell you that it is the small day-to-day things that if done quickly, efficiently and with a smile really make a business run. Be the person who helps do those things.
Q: What are you most passionate about, and how do you incorporate it into your career or everyday life?
A: I love the opportunity to creatively brainstorm to find an answer to a problem. It could be for my own work or a friend or a colleague. I get excited at the opportunity to be part of a process in which the ideas shared will help create something, push a project forward or even change someone’s life. This might take the form of a conference call, scheduled coffee or even a random skype date with a person halfway around the world. I feel I can always learn from the opportunity to help solve someone else’s problems.
ON Giving Back
Q: Can you share with us an experience of giving that was extremely rewarding or transformational?
A: Her name was Faye. I called her “purple sweater Faye.” She sat quietly, as I greeted her, with her hands clasped and didn’t move so much as a slight nod. For about an hour I smiled and chirped about school, embraced her, applied rouge on her cheeks and dabbed lipstick on her lips, complimented her smooth skin and yet she didn’t smile once. I double-checked with the activities coordinator – “Does Faye want a makeover today?” and she nodded yes. Yet, I left the makeover feeling like a failure – it was the first time a woman had not even smiled back at me. That evening, I received a call from the activities coordinator. I got nervous. I thought, maybe I am in trouble. As we were discussing the makeover, “purple sweater” Faye entered the conversation. The coordinator informed me that was the reason for her call. She shared, “Faye had been severely depressed, and had stopped eating and it was after our makeover that she picked up her fork…” The volunteer was 17 years old. That volunteer was me. This moment changed my life.
Q: What are the top 3 things that you do to stay healthy?
A: What I try to do every day: laugh a lot, hug someone, and workout.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson your mother taught you?
A: To believe I can accomplish anything with hard work.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Eclectic, because one day I will be very conservative/preppy with a popped collar and then the next off beat with a funky hat, but for the most part—casual chic.
Q: What are the beauty items you could not live without?
A: Mascara, moisturizer with SPF, and lip gloss.