Rachael Harrah's Founder on How Living Simpler Inspired Her Line of Perfect Linen Shirts
Photos: Nicki Sebastian
We all know what it's like to envision the perfect wardrobe staple, like the best butt-enhancing jeans or the impeccable plain white tee — and the ensuing endless hunt to find an option that doesn't cost a fortune. That stylish search becomes even more complicated when you throw in the desire to find a mindfully made piece, and that's partly what inspired Fashion Mamas LA member Rachael Desztich to design a new line of effortless essentials.
In solving her own closet conundrum, Desztich also fulfilled a longtime dream to create her own womenswear brand. Enter Rachael Harrah, which recently launched with linen button-downs that go from school drop-offs to lunch meetings to evening get-togethers with friends (after the kids go to bed, of course). Priced from $145 to $185, the collection includes short- and long-sleeved styles that complement not-too-buttoned-up lifestyles.
"I knew instantly I wanted to start with linen. It has softness and movement, and a kind of wabi-sabi, perfectly imperfect feel to it," explains Desztich. "Linen is also an eco-friendly fabric as flax requires less water to grow and can be grown without pesticides. I plan to explore other environmentally-friendly fabrics in the future, too."
Here, the digital marketing pro and former fashion publicist explains her career journey, how working with other women convinced her to finally start her brand, what inspires her designs, and more — read all about it below.
First, a bit about you: What's the name and age of your little one?
My son is Wynn, who's 2 and a half years old.
Tell us more about your career journey: How'd you get to where you are today?
Growing up I always looked forward to the end of summer, before school started, when my mom would give me a small budget and tell me I could use it to buy whatever school clothes I wanted. I saw this as a chance to reinvent myself each and every year. And this feeling of using clothes to speak to deeper truths about myself has stayed with me ever since.
Despite this, it took me many years to see fashion as a career. I studied marketing and advertising in school, not knowing where it would take me, but thinking that it was a good blend between business and creative work. It ended up being the path that brought me to working with fashion and women’s lifestyle brands.
After college I started at ad agencies in Chicago, ultimately moving on to New Orleans. The creative spirit is so alive there, and it inspired me to start a fashion blog while I was launching my digital marketing consulting company. This led to me team up with some friends to create New Orleans’ first commerce-driven fashion event series connecting independent brands with buyers, media and press. I also began hosting large scale clothing swaps in an effort to do my small part in reducing the remnant waste created by the fashion industry, something I’ve been passionate about since early on. I really started to hone in on my creative point of view during this time — creating for creating’s sake.
I got back into the agency world when I moved to Los Angeles with a short-lived job in fashion PR, and continued on with a mix of marketing consulting and content creation for women’s lifestyle and fashion brands from there. Working within this community of entrepreneurial women and mothers revealed to me all the possibilities that existed here in fashion, and gave me the support, resources, and encouragement to pursue a path for myself.
"Working within this community of entrepreneurial
women and mothers revealed to me all the possibilities and gave
me the support to pursue a path for myself."
Was there an "a-ha" moment that inspired you to create the line, or was it a more gradual
process? Can you tell us more?
I’ve had the dream of creating a clothing line for many years. The clarity and vision for what would become Rachael Harrah came at a time in my life where I was not in the best place — I was anxious, on the edge of depression, having a hard time being with myself.
I had been embracing a more simple approach to life for some time — paring down stuff, dressing in only my favorite pieces (and wearing the same thing pretty much everyday), cooking with simple whole and natural foods — and I started to notice more and more that it was freeing space in my mind and in my day. Digging deeper into this I began to get to know a part of myself that I had been fighting for a long time — that I just liked to keep things simple! It made me feel my best and just made life feel easier and more fulfilling. This was a bit of a revelation to me, because for many years I was a thrifter and vintage hoarder (I blame it the fashion blog!) and coveted having as full a closet as possible.
My “a-ha” moment came from there in the form of a white long-sleeved button-down shirt. I had been wearing a white shirt with jeans for months and would tell my friends it was my “mom uniform,” which actually just meant it was my uniform. So I wanted the perfect one — one that could quite literally be worn everyday for almost every occasion. One that made me feel put together, yet relaxed, and wasn’t overly crisp or business-like. That would carry me from client meetings, to pre-school pick up, to family dinner, to meeting friends in the evening. The vision for this piece is what lit the spark, so to speak.
Who or what inspires your designs? Did anything specific inspire your color
I design with the ethos of simplicity in mind, and my vision for the long sleeve button-down sums it up — a line that helps me and other women look and feel good with simple, well made, perennial, effortless pieces... pieces that are the foundation of her wardrobe. I want her to feel like she can buy less with them in her closet.
To me, there is nothing more classic than a white shirt with jeans. I wanted a white that didn’t feel too precious though, so I designed my oyster color to have a vintage look with a tea-stained color tint. I also just prefer neutral colors in general, and find them to be more calming and adaptable in a wardrobe, so I pulled in a few of my favorite shades to wear that remind me of some of my favorite things in the natural world — the deep blue of the ocean, dusty rust of red rock mountains, and soft tan of fields of prairie grass.
How do you hope to make mamas feel when they wear your pieces?
These pieces are made to wear. They are for mamas to feel like their best selves — at ease, confident, for every season of the year, for every season of life, like the radically amazing women and mothers they are. They are vessels for spaciousness and freedom, that enable her to focus on what matters most.