A face and name synonymous with international fashion campaigns and catwalk shows, Rachel Ritfeld is the embodiment of diversity — professionally and personally. In life as on the stage, Rachel is many things wrapped into one. Her multicultural heritage: Indian, Black Caribbean and Ghanaian and impressive fluency in over six languages and degree in Social Anthropology helps her further understand the complexities of the world and celebrate diversity on a number of levels. Raised in Brussels, Rachel developed a strong working ethic and a crystal clear focus from a young age which has led her businesswoman persona to be fueled by her compassion towards combating social inequalities worldwide. Parlour Magazine caught up with her for their Maven series to find out how she’s building her business successfully.
In a short amount of time, Rachel Ritfeld has had a career that many would dream of. A world traveler who is fluent in five languages, she’s been featured in campaigns for L’Oreal and Toni & Guy, and has graced the catwalk for everyone from Jean Paul Gaultier to Baby Phat. You may have also seen her featured in 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake’s “Ayo Technology” or as a presenter on the former Sky1 series Project Catwalk.
Now, as a mother, philanthropist and budding actress, Ritfeld has found a new sense of balance and inspiration. As the second installment of our Parlour MAVEN partnership with London’s I’mPOSSIBLE Conversation*, we present to you, Ms. Rachel Ritfeld.
You’ve had a successful career in fashion and entertainment, what are three words of advice you’d offer to aspiring young women?
The majority of my career has been centered around the modeling industry, so the three bits of advice I would give in the field are:
- Make sure you have more to offer than your beauty because beauty fades, make sure you have a decent education to back you up. It will add value to you as a person as well as boost your self- esteem and force people take you more seriously.
- Remember it is entertainment and temporary so have a plan for when the modeling comes to an end.
- Be dignified in everything you do. You cannot build on a bad base, make sure the foundation of who you are, not what you are, is strong!
How has the modeling business changed since you began?
It has changed immensely. There are more models now than ever, and so many are willing to work for free. This makes it very hard for the majority of real professional models to earn a decent living like we did over five years ago. The women who will stand out and make it are the ones with a plan. With intelligence and a good general knowledge of the fashion business and how to market themselves, they can take it to the next level.
What were the biggest professional challenges you have faced?
People trying to put me down because they didn’t understand the vision I had for my career. But I never took no for an answer and against the odds and the rejection I had an incredible international career. The only thing that can hold me back is me. I choose not to let people have power over my life anymore. Three years ago I was in a position where I had to step out of the business, but I am grateful now for new opportunities and that I have the maturity required now to go wherever I want to take my career.
Who inspires you?
My daughter, I can’t afford to fail. I’m in the process of getting divorced so I have to pull all the strength and focus out of myself right now because I am all she has. I am her example, the concept of what makes a woman will come from me so I cannot allow myself to do anything but succeed. The funny thing is, my daughter’s only two years old, but I’ve been living with her in my head and heart for at least five years. She has been my inspiration for years now.
How has being a mother impacted the way that you view work-life balance?
It’s not easy as a single mom to make it all happen, but so far so good. As a mother I am very happy with myself. I lived in Suriname for the past five years and only got back to the UK three months ago. Rosalia is everything I always dreamed of and more, and as time goes by it will get easier…read more at Parlour Magazine.
Come and hear the full story of Rachel’s journey at the winter edition of the I’mPOSSIBLE conversation next Wednesday, December 12.