DCF: Who Are You?
Rachel Rosenthal, Founder/Owner of Rachel and Company. I’m a Bethesda-native, wife, and mom to identical twin girls. My business – Rachel and Company – is a professional organizing firm in the DC-metro area specializing in home organization, closet design, and home moves. Since launching Rachel and Company nearly 10 years ago, we’ve helped over 1,700 families get organized! I’m also creator of The Playbook, an organizing how-to guide for every area of your home.
DCF: Why do you love what you do? What makes you funemployment?
RR: Prior to entering into the world of organizing, I went to law school and received a JD. It became apparent to me pretty early on that practicing law was not something I wanted to pursue in the long-term. Instead, I wanted to channel an outlet that moved my needle in a different direction. I’ve always had a passion for making spaces more functional and organized, and I wanted to translate this to a broader audience. When you’re legitimately invested in what you do – beyond a purely financial stake – it doesn’t feel so much like work, but rather an opportunity to share a part of yourself to make life a little better for someone else. (DCF: Love this and it is sooo true!!) Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into every project, but it’s so worth it. I’ve had clients jump for joy and even cry when they see the transformation in their homes. How wonderful is it knowing that I could make that happen?!
DCF: Who was your first mentor and how did you find them?
RR: I don’t really have a first mentor, per se, but I do credit a lot of other women-owned businesses with my success. I learned all that I know from other women in business on what it takes to run your own business; how to keep motivated and how to treat others in business. (DCF: I’ve learned a lot from awesome women in business and couldn’t agree more, a happy businesswoman is a wonderful sight and can teach a lot!)
DCF: What’s your happy place?
RR: So I have to admit, I am a total introvert. I’m also a business-owner and busy mom, which means I engage with a lot of people. Life can be pretty frenetic for my family with work, school, and social commitments. At the end of the day, I love nothing more than being at home, curled up on the couch in my comfy clothes, spending time with my husband and girls. It’s a moment for us to decompress, take a breath, and just enjoy each other’s company. But let’s be real, I’d be totally happy on a Hawaiian beach, too! (DCF: Amen to that girl!!)
DCF: Where do you get your energy?
RR: To the surprise of no one, I have a type-A personality. I’m also a business-owner, which means that my name is intrinsically linked to what I do. I have and always will strive to do my very best. I’m not happy until the final product is something that I would endorse for my own home. My batteries are charged when I walk away from a project, and I know deep inside that I’ve knocked it out of the park; when an owner’s eyes get wide and all they can say is “wow.” This kind of reaction inspires me to do what I do every day.
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find it?
RR: Balance? What’s that? (DCF: Ain’t that the truth sometimes!!) To be honest, this is something that I’m taking a hard look at right now. To me, balance is ability to make the most of your life without letting one part of it take over more than the other. It’s when you can close your eyes, exhale fully, and feel contented with who you are and what you’ve accomplished.
I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid. I’ve had to make a lot of changes in my life related to my physical and emotional wellbeing as a means of managing the disease, and finding balance has been key. It’s easy to get pulled into too many directions when you wear as many hats as I do, and often times your health is something that gets neglected in the process. (DCF: I’m learning to make my mental and physical health a priority but it is easy). My attempts to be all things to everybody – wife, mom, business owner, friend, daughter – were taking a legitimate toll on my body. I needed to slow things down and take stock of how I could be my best self. I’m not 100 percent there, but it’s a goal that I’m working toward every day.
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
RR: My journey towards achieving balance is still a work in progress. I was operating a million miles a minute, and something had to give. I’m trying in earnest to not over-schedule myself. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to say no if that means you can say your best yes to something else. For someone with a type-A personality, it’s been tough to let go of some of the day-to day responsibilities of running a business, so that I could make room for self-care. (DCF: Yes, Yes, Yes to all of this!) Living with Hashimoto’s, however, has forced me to rethink how I operate as a mom, wife, and business owner. It’s even inspired me to think about how I could translate the lessons I’ve learned along the way to help others – whether that be setting up a Hashimoto-friendly kitchen or finding the right the right products for your morning routine.
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
RR: Regardless of being a woman, it’s really tough to be a business-owner. In the early days of Rachel and Company, I was running a business with small infants at home. And then I was a single mom. Launching a business from scratch and trying to master motherhood was no small feat. Talk about a character building opportunity! At the same time, I was inspired even more to make my business work. It had to for the sake of my two girls. (DCF: Inspiration is always motivation!)
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
RR: I’ve always been told that you should do what you love and love what you do. I have to admit, when I was younger, I didn’t appreciate the value of this sage advice. I was preoccupied with chasing a high-profile job and making other people happy. I wish I had listened to my heart a little earlier and not been so afraid to take a risk. Talk about hindsight being 20/20! Still, I don’t regret my life’s journey because I’ve amassed some considerable lessons along the way that have shaped who I am.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
RR: I’m a firm believer that failures are life’s best learning opportunities, and let me tell you, starting a business from scratch comes with many learning opportunities! (DCF: That is exactly why I ask this question, couldn’t agree more!)
DCF: What was your proudest moment to date?
RR: Ten years and over 1,700 client projects later, I have to pinch myself sometimes just to remind myself how lucky I am. I still can’t believe it when I have folks reach out to me for organizing tips, whether that be in-person, in print, or on TV. I’ve been fortunate to have been featured in some incredible publications like the Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, and Good Housekeeping. I recently became a Today Show contributor, and I’ve even formed partnerships with great companies like The Container Store, West Elm, WayFair, Kit & Ace, Mabel’s Labels, and others. I love that people are interested in organization and want to learn from my tried-and-true experience. When you’re as passionate about what you do as I am, it’s not hard to get me talking about the benefits of incorporating organization into your life. What an honor that people are willing to listen!
DCF: What are you Currently Conquering?
RR: When I’m not busy onsite coordinating a client project, I’m working on ways to spread the word about the merits of getting and staying organized. I’m expanding my online course roster and pursuing speaking engagements. For example, on November 30, I’ll be hosting a workshop in collaboration with Paper Source in Bethesda on creative journaling – a way to combine your to-do list, planner, and notes into one functional format. I’m also exploring what the next phase of Rachel and Company will look like, so stay tuned….