Rachel / @sparklepriestess
Occupation: For my day job, I’m a textile designer and I also do some assorted graphic design. I work remotely – I have a main employer and several rotating clients. As a textile designer, I primarily work in the baby space – I create print designs for nursery products and baby clothes. For my other clients, I do all kinds of things! I do create prints for adult fashion brands, but I also do logo and branding work, Illustration, and design the occasional Squarespace website. I have to say, textile design is a huge passion of mine – I love my work. As a fashion lover, fabrics and prints huge to me. My other passion is my side hustle – fashion blogging. I’m deeply interested in all aspects of fashion – garment construction, history, trend, and personal style.
Social Media Presence
Did you decide to become an influencer? What was the motivation or transition? Well, I’m definitely still a baby blogger – or micro-influencer if you will. I’ve always been so passionate about style – but I never considered influencing a “real” job. I’m not famous, so I questioned whether or not people would care what I have to say on fashion and style topics. However, I realized that I’m actually very knowledgeable about many aspects of fashion – and my friends have always asked my advice about makeup, skincare and clothing. I am a natural researcher and I dig deep about topics I’m interested in. I can tell you why one eyeliner is better for you than another if you have hooded eyes. I can explain why a garment is poorly made, and what to look for in a quality garment. My friends frequently make purchases based on my recommendations – and I just sort of realized that I could be a really good fashion blogger. I decided to take is seriously and started transitioning my Instagram from a personal account to a more professional account – and that’s where I am now. I’ve built a nice brand and I’ve started reaching out to brands I’d like to work with.
When you first started, did you have a specific goal in mind for what you wanted to come out of having this platform? How has that goal changed since then? When I first started, no I did not. I joined The Plug a few months ago – I like startups and I was really interested to see what y’all were doing. I had the thought of becoming an influencer in the back of my mind, but I was not seriously entertaining the idea. However, that changed and I decided to take influencing seriously a little over a month ago. I wanted to make blogging and influencing a full time career. I set a series of tasks to achieve and proceeded to get to work.
Firstly, I researched several top bloggers that are blogging full time. I make lists of how they did things. I realized that they all use affiliates and the top affiliate program is RewardStyle. You must be approved to join, and you need to have a blog with a proven posting history and a clean, editorial style – among other things. So I set up a Squarespace blog and created an editorial calendar. My ability to design and set up websites was a big help here – I got it up and running in a day. Additionally, I’ve blogged about design and sewing for the past 9 years, so I am familiar with creating high quality content. After about 10 posts, I realized SquareSpace had some limitations that would make it hard for me to organize my blog in the future, so I ported my site over to a self-hosted WordPress site over a weekend. I purchased a quality template that had the editorial design and features I need to create a standout blog.
I planned my blog posts in advance for about a month, with the goal of 3 posts a week. I created a Google spreadsheet with publish dates, optimized post titles, and keywords to keep organized. I also batched my photos – I have a good camera, and my husband and I plan photoshoots for the weekends. I can get a bunch of shots and use them for different blog posts as I go. This week I applied for several affiliate programs that are easier to get into than RewardStyle – and I was approved for several, so now I can create affiliate links in my blog posts. I also wrote a review of a brand on my blog that got me features on their Instagram – and they sent me a free product today! So I would say things have changed a lot since I first created an account. 🙂
Can you tell us the story behind your Instagram handle, @sparklepriestess ? Haha! Yes I can. Sparkle Priestess is my Burning Man name. I have been a Burner for several years. I’m one of those people who go up a week early and dirty camp (REAL dirty camping) to build the big art before the event opens. But when the event starts, I like to clean up and dress in very beautiful costumes and makeup. Burning Man is a pack it in, pack it out event – you have to bring everything you need to survive for a week of camping in the desert – and then pack it out again when you leave. The concept of the event is Radical Self Reliance. In the Burning Man community, there’s a nickname for the type of person (usually a girl) who shows up with almost nothing but cute costumes and expects to be taken care of. They call them Sparkle Ponies. I typically look like one of those girls after the event opens, so in my camp it’s kind of a joke to call me a Sparkle Pony. Well, in 2014 the man who is now my husband was our camp newbie – and we fell in love during Burning Man that year. He was impressed by my hard work and toughness, and also my ability to glow up in the harsh desert. So he said, “You aren’t a Sparkle Pony, you’re a Sparkle Priestess!” And that’s been my nickname ever since. And we’ve been together ever since too. 🙂
How do you manage to stay so creatively inspired? Well, I wish I could give you a more practical answer but I am just intrinsically motivated to make things and get stuff done. It might be because of my upbringing – I was raised in the middle of the Mojave desert in a very secluded area. We had no electricity or running water, and our nearest and only neighbor was an elderly couple about a half mile away. My brother, sister and I spent a lot of time amusing ourselves – reading, writing, building, sewing, painting and the like. My siblings are a lot like me – we are extremely prolific!
As a fashion blogger and textile designer, how would you describe your personal style? How has your style evolved over the years? I’d describe my style as low key glam with a little edge? My ideal outfit is a little sexy, comfortable, and has a unique element. I like trends but in moderation. My style has changed a lot, due to my age, my ever varying interests, and the fact that I got breast implants about 10 years ago. Turns out low cut outfits go from fashionable to super sexy real fast! So I have learned to dress my boobs over the years. I think I’ve kept a similar overall style over the years, but I’ve changed with popular trends. Instead of low rise jeans (which I was a die hard advocate of) I’ve moved to high rise. I have a more targeted and curated wardrobe now as well. When I was young and poor, I had a ton of clothes, most of it fast fashion. Now I have a lot less, and it’s nicer.
Is there anyone you look to for fashion inspiration? If so, why? Definitely! I’m obsessed with Baddie Winkle and other older influencers. I often don’t want to copy the exact looks, but the confidence and overall style inspire me a lot. I love Cardi B – she can blend street style and couture looks and just kills it. An influencer I have loved for a long time is Katia of @bewolffashion – she is very unique and dialed in with her fashion looks. I have an Instagram friend who isn’t an influencer but I love their style as well – @yaelaedstyle. They are so unique and pure! I love stuff like that.
Not only are you an influencer, but a mom, designer, and artist! As a busy woman, how do you stay organized? Are there any tools/tricks you use? Haha! That is a good question! I do make a lot of lists. I keep list in my phone, Google docs with ideas and outlines, and my blog spreadsheet of course. I plan and schedule my Instagram with the Preview app. I think that my biggest tip is to be proactive. Don’t let perfect get in the way of good. You need to make progress on your goals every day – even if it’s literally only making one phone call or sending one email. Put yourself out there – if you don’t take chances and fail forwards, you won’t move the needle.
Speaking of tools, what’s your favorite feature of The Plug? Having access to brand contacts is amazing! That is such a valuable feature. Being able to have a warm lead is so invaluable in business – and I love that it’s a trade platform.
Do you have any advice for someone who might be thinking of starting down a similar path as you? Yes I do! Take yourself seriously and put in the work. You will not get anywhere without putting in long hours – but you will also not get anywhere alone. Make connections. Put yourself out there. You will probably not have immediate success, but every step of your journey will give your rich insight and tools you will need. Journal. Ask for advice. Don’t be afraid to scrap everything and start over. But most of all, don’t waste time. Get moving today on your goals!
Do you have a specific message you want your followers to get from following your platforms? I realized recently that the thing I love most is giving people validation. I LOVE to see other people gain confidence and love for themselves. Aside from light hearted humor and inspiration, I want my followers to feel heard, appreciated, and encouraged to style themselves with total fulfillment. I want my followers to feel amazing in their skin. If I can do that through examples, suggestions, and tips, I’ll consider myself a success.
Behind the Curtain
What’s the most exciting thing coming up for you in 2019? I’m moving! I’m finally leaving the Bay Area. It’s been an amazing, crazy and delightful time here – however, I want to buy a house and live in a quieter area. I’m moving back to Colorado, where I lived prior to moving here. I’m excited to start making local connections and I would like to make a name for myself as a Colorado fashion blogger. Colorado has a great up and coming fashion scene that’s really interesting and inspiring.
What’s something people may not know about you from just following your account/ Do you have a special talent? Wow, that’s a good question! I guess most of my followers don’t know that I have a pretty big rural/tomboy side. I’m not a hardcore builder or anything, but I’ve driven a couple of tractors, I’ve been up in a lift, I can use power tools and weld. (crappily) I bled my own brakes one time using a YouTube tutorial when I couldn’t afford a mechanic. (I don’t recommend this at all) I’ve tarred a roof. I’ve helped dig a truck out of a ditch multiple times. I’ve push started a car! I’m kind of a secret badass. Haha!
Is there anything else you want to share with The Plug Community about your journey or your story as a creative? If I can achieve my goals, you can too. I grew up in poverty with no electricity. I had two children when I was a teenager, and I dropped out of both high school and college. Life can get tough, but you hold the secret to your success. All the tools you could ever want to learn and do anything are available at your fingertips. Use them! And always be polite to everyone. Your connections are what will propel you forwards. It doesn’t matter how pretty or talented you are – if you’re a mean person, no one will want to help you. And believe in yourself! Don’t let negative self talk win. You are just as intelligent, worthy and capable as any other human being. Also, Dad Shoes are horrible and they will not be remembered kindly in the future!