When it comes to the urban culture scene, blogger Rachel Nevels has her eyes wide open and ear to the ground. She’s not only writing to express but to cultivate and connect. With a love for Saint Louis and the talent coming out of it- Rachel shares with me her visions of its future and her place in it all…
Shayba: Why call it ‘That Darn Rachel‘?
Rachel: I’ve always loved writing, music, fashion, culture, etc. Around 2006 I learned what a blog was and became fascinated with the idea, so I signed up for a free BlogSpot account and called it Fashion University. Initially, because I knew nothing about blogging or journalism (and the internet wasn’t what it is today), it was hard for me to find a direction / niche, so I barely kept up with it. Fast forward a few years later, social media became this huge thing – and I loved the idea of Twitter but I couldn’t think of a name, so I thought about what people would say about my tweets and it came to me. “That Darn Rachel”.
S: What led you to become a blogger?
R: As mentioned, I’ve always been passionate about writing, fashion, music, culture – and the sorts, but I never actually considered myself a blogger until recently. For me, my blog was more of a hobby, it was an expansion of my social media personality that I kept private. Ultimately, my life experiences are what really led me to being confident in my writing and taking myself serious as a blogger.
S: What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned?
R: Where do I begin?! One very important lesson I’ve learned is how essential it is to seek and maintain relationships with people who aspire to, or have already accomplished things you want to accomplish in life. No matter where you’re going in life, you need companionship and / or mentorship. For a while I failed to realize that and it held me back a lot.
S: What is the value of blogging today and why is it a necessary space?
R: A good blogger is more reputable and trusted than any other news / media outlet, and in some cases bloggers are more trusted than brands themselves! In today’s society, this is important because advertising has become impersonal, cold, and calculated (rather than strategic).
S: Have you had mentors or anyone you’ve looked up to throughout your career?
R: Much like the rest of the world, I admire and long for a work ethic like Beyoncé! But over the years, I have seen different qualities in different people that I admire – however, I’ve never had a mentor. That said, I’d love to have a relationship with a woman who has made a name for herself by following her passion. If she were still alive, I would love to have a mentor / mentee relationship with Maya Angelou. She seems like the kind of person you can talk to about anything.
S: Are there any cultural influences that inspire your work?
R: Most certainly! My blog is a personal lifestyle blog with an emphasis on fashion and culture. While I aspire to pay homage and respect to beautiful things from various cultures, black culture plays a huge role on That Darn Rachel. Although it’s more recognized than it used to be, black culture is still very new. Many argue that we’re all of African descent – which is true – but there are millions of Black American’s who are so far removed from Africa (by no fault of their own), thus this “black culture” is the only thing they can relate to, and I want to do more to cultivate that – starting with my blog.
S: What films, books, artists, places, etc., have been most influential in shaping you?
R: When I was a little girl I traveled a lot, and it wasn’t until I was older and went away to College that I realized what traveling / seeing so much of the world had done for me. It made me adventurous, open-minded, and gave me social / communication skills I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Those skills and characteristics certainly aided in shaping who I am today, and one could say they even inspired me to start my blog – to continue to seek out new and exciting things that pushed any boundaries or limits I found myself within.
S: What have you changed or done in your life that helps you to thrive?
R: The only thing that is consistent, is change. Through each phase of my life I’ve had to change aspects of myself in order to thrive. However, the hardest part has been recognizing when I need to make changes in order to progress.
S: What’s your current curiosity?
R: I am currently curious about where the St. Louis creative scene is headed! How far it’ll go? What impact is has / will have on the world? How many more unbelievably talented people are there that I don’t even know about yet, etc.?
S: How do you see the local industry evolving?
R: I see the local industry evolving into a force of it’s own. Although St. Louis is very rich in historical significance, something about this feels different. It’s not just a person or a thing, it’s a movement.
S: How has your style evolved?
R: Much like with my writing, I want people to feel me rather than see (or read) me – and my style has evolved so much [to reflect that] that I can wear a t-shirt, leggings, Birkenstocks, a few staple accessories, and still make it mine. Overtime I’ve grown more comfortable in my skin, which has made me more confident in the way I dress, the way I speak, the things I choose to write about, approaching people, etc. People won’t remember my fashions, they’ll remember my style, and that’s something I pride myself on.
S: What’s the future look like for That Darn Rachel?
R: Since I’ve started taking myself more serious, so many amazing things have happened, and I don’t plan on slowing down! One exciting thing I’ve got up my sleeve is a shop on my blog that will feature exclusive merchandise, accessories, books, and more!
S: Any words of wisdom you would give to your former self starting out?