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Rachael on How Intuition Helps with Self-Growth
Rachael talks about her self-growth journey and the importance of listening to yourself
Below the Surface is an ongoing series featuring friends of Motif, who are on their path to greatness doing things they love. We sat down with our friend, Rachael Yaeger — Founder of creative agency, Human NYC. Rachael was born in Upstate New York and currently lives in NYC with her dog, Chuck.
Who are you? Where are you from? And where are you going?
I’m from a very cold environment in upstate New York near Canada. I’m really outside of the Adirondack Mountains—a lot of nature, a lot of hiking. My family grew up camping and spending a lot of time outdoors.
Who am I? I once taught a class at my friend’s Parsons classroom and this girl raised her hand and she was like, "I don't know why you don't just introduce yourself as an entrepreneur." That really resonated because I'm a business owner, I'm a creative, I'm a leader, but above all, an entrepreneur does fit. I do many things. I’m a business owner at Human, a digital agency where we build brands and websites. But I also have a really big hospitality part of me. I'm the founder of a conference, the co-founder of a motel, I started a chicken coop startup because the world needs more self-sufficient eggs, and I’m working on a re-wearable, sustainable pants company. And for a long time—and I may relaunch it—I was working on an editorial called the Working Pair. So I think that student was right. In a nutshell, I'm definitely an entrepreneur. So that's where I am.
Where I'm going is a really interesting question. I've been contemplating this existential question of whether or not the universe has this blueprint that you need to tap into, or if life is just based on a set of decisions that you make daily, monthly, yearly.
There must be a little balance between both of those. At 36, I have this pressure to figure out what I want, and then go get it. But also, a realistic notion of you don't know what's gonna come next, so just trust yourself to be able to navigate that as things come. I'm a really proactive project manager in life but I also am really excited to see what cards come my way.
Where I'm going, hopefully, is maybe similar to where I am now. Just taking really good care of myself and my team, and trying to do my best every day with whatever I'm working on.
Is there a question that you're sick of being asked?
Honestly, the "what do you do" question is really hard for me, because I get self-conscious of, "If you do 10 things then they each only get 10%". I carry around this burden of "Oh am I ever really giving my whole self to something?" And I know that’s not true. I give my whole self to whatever I'm working on, in that moment. But I feel like it is hard to define, as my definition can be a little convoluted or hard. So yeah, that's the most basic question I struggle with most.
When do you feel like you're in a state of flow?
I feel like a state of flow happens for me when I know exactly what I'm doing. If I’m responding to a client's email, and I really know what they're looking for. Or, if it’s something we've done 100 times, I feel really happy and confident doing that.
I feel a state of flow when I'm hiking with my dog in the mornings, not looking at my phone, and I'm just breathing and enjoying my time outside. I'm also making a series of watercolor works of a gridded watercolor dot pattern where each of these dots gets a gradient so it's really mathematical.
Even with flow state at work, it's like, has my dog settled in? Is my business partner here? It's all about creating a moment where you can get into this zone too.
What do patterns mean to you? What patterns are you trying to create or break?
In 2013, I recognized starting my own path would be the right decision. And then it wasn't until recently, that I felt like I had more optionality or more choice. I loved the way the universe had shepherded me through my 20s, and 30s, giving me every next step. And then all of a sudden, in my mid 30s, I arrived at a point where everything seems to be up to me and so if you want it enough, you can go get it.
Creating your future is largely your responsibility. Trying to find my own voice, sense of self, and intuition is interesting too because I've always been propelled forward by this inner drive—what's next? Let's go achieve it. Let's keep moving.
Now, movement feels like it could be so many things. It can be enjoying these small micro moments of spending my birthday with my mom or being excited to go on a hike. They don't have to be these huge life moments, instead they’re smaller patterns of appreciation, which do feel really right.
I have never liked or wanted a routine. A work coach of mine told me, “You should just embrace that about yourself, stressing yourself out about being a person that doesn't like routine isn't worth it. You're good at making a to-do list, you're good at getting done what needs to be done. And you're also good at innovating and thinking outside of the box. So just be yourself”. So right now, I’m trying to embrace creativity, which is a new pattern that I'm going to have to define for myself and carve out time for.
What does self care and personal growth mean to you?
Creating patterns of habit or self care and self love are really important to me. I feel like part of my self care and self love journey is this constant absorption of books and podcasts. I read a lot—I just finished Radical Acceptance and got into Brene Brown. I recently really got into philosophy, so I think I have this curiosity around how a person should be and how I can learn things.
But then there comes this point where you realize, the more you shed layers of yourself, just for the sake of growth, the further you really are from becoming the person you want to be.
This self care and self discovery moment, it should be about finding what feels good and feels right for you versus changing everything because you're wrong, and feeling like you need to redo things.
Sometimes I think, I'm not doing this right so I need to read this book, but then I'm left in a really shaky, self conscious place that I didn't need to be in to begin with. So I'm always resetting myself and always taking things with a grain of salt. That's a real journey—to be able to absorb a lot, but filter it through yourself by taking bits and pieces of everything. Being able to decide for yourself what's going to work. Asking yourself the basic question of like, Does this feel good? Do I actually want to go to this concert, you know? Or would I rather stay at home with a face mask?
There’s a stigma of like, push outside of your comfort zone, always strive for more, always keep growing, always keep changing. Right now, I'm more of the mindset of, does this feel right for you? And you probably know more than you think so.
How are you navigating the world of beauty as a woman who isn't obsessed with beauty?
I was always mad at my mom for not teaching me how to use makeup or skincare but I think it was actually really wonderful to grow up in a house that wasn't obsessed with mirrors. I wish I had listened to her about sunscreen though.
I think there are tools, products and ways that I'm excited to embrace that help me look and feel better. I’m curious about skincare products but I'm not taking it too seriously. If I break out from something, I'll just stop using it. I think it’s also fun having people in your life that are obsessed with beauty products since they can play doll with you, which is really fun. Like if you show up at a party and you look amazing, and people compliment you, that's really fun. Day to day, I really try to just rely on the bare minimum.
What are your expectations from the beauty industry? What are your views of the beauty industry and the role that it's playing in the way people perceive beauty?
I think the responsibility of the beauty industry would be more honesty and less of a one-size-fits-all product. I'm really sick of hearing, “This is a miracle thing that's meant for everyone”. Talking to Motif, I was like, “I love this, it’s for everyone but it also feels targeted like I’m the demographic for this – people in their 30s may love this product”.
I think there’s a responsibility around clean ingredients and choosing quality and not compromising because transparency is really expected now. You have to choose the best formulation for your customer. I think that that's just going to become really expected because it's almost like people are viewing skincare like their food.
Creating products because there's a white space or an opportunity will make those products die more quickly. People really expect the genuine approach and the thoughtfulness that they deserve from brands.
And I think we'll see those brands survive, thrive, grow with people and become the brands that people talk about all the time, because they're just truly made with purpose, and they're made really well. That's when people fall in love with products. I want to be really excited about my purchase and align with the values of the brand. Just creating something and shipping it isn't going to be acceptable anymore.
What products are you currently using?
I’m using the Abundance Cleanser from Motif which makes me feel like a goddess. I haven't missed a day doing this daily masking for 30 seconds. And through my work with Sophie Pavitt, I’m using a Mandelic serum from her studio followed by a really good moisturizer. I’ll occasionally use the Ilia moisturizer with sunscreen when I have a client meeting or if I'm doing a lot of face time during the day. I've been really diligent in my older age now of washing my face at night. I'm using the Face Reality HydraCalm mask. You can leave it on at night and when I wake up, my skin looks really good.
How has your experience using the Abundance Cleanser been?
It feels like ownership over my age in a way.
Before trying the Abundance Cleanser, cleansers felt like something affordable, really mild, and nothing special. But the Abundance Cleanser makes me feel special. And in a way it's like taking that extra care and giving myself this little gift moment in the mornings.
The 30 second mask every morning is such a joy, it’s the perfect amount of time because I can just do a couple of squats or have a little moment.
I just think that's the coolest thing ever because when I don’t have time to do a full face mask, I can leave this on.
My skin feels softer. It's amazing. The second I rinse off the mask, my skin feels really soft and it’s a feeling that stays. It's not temporary or only-when-it's-wet feeling. It's only been a week but I feel like my skin is more soft. And a big thing for me is even-ness, my forehead feels really even.