I'll Always Love "Friends" Because Rachel Green Is Kind Of My Fashion Career Role Model
In a TV-obsessed society, it’s normal to connect with fictional characters you will never meet or chat with in your day-to-day life. In fact, it’s almost expected: Why would one tune in week after week and spend money on DVDs if there was no emotional attachment formed?
One quickly finds his or herself on #teamoliviapope or hosting a finale viewing party for a favorite show not just because it’s fun…but because you’ve formed a bond with the program’s characters and now you are hopelessly devoted.
My particular shows of choice all started in the 90’s. Yes, I am one of those twenty-somethings who feels sad for the younger generation because their TV programming will never compare to my own. My heart has grown quite attached to one of the biggest sitcoms in history: "Friends". Yes, I identify with the show’s setting as I’m a born and raised New York City girl and we’ve all dated a Joey or two (unfortunately), but the reason I love it so is because of its link to my drug of choice: fashion.
Much like me, Rachel Green was the show’s resident fashion girl both in her everyday life and her career. I was just nine years old when Rachel embarked on her rise through the fashion industry; starting from the bottom (much, much lower than Drake) and I couldn’t help but be inspired.
At the time, I was dead-set on becoming either a veterinarian or joining the Peace Corps, but Ms. Green gave me another path to consider (yes, I was thinking about jobs at nine.) During my first summer after college, I followed the route of my major and my desired career at the time and attempted to walk the road of a translator…soon to find that it was quite boring. I instead decided to pursue my ultimate dream in fashion and I found myself harking back to Rachel and her obstacles and triumphs much more than I expected. Here are three ways she inspired me:
1. Rachel’s big leap into the land of the sartorially-savvy came in 1996 when I was just a crazy-haired nine year old. She was quitting her waitressing job at Central Perk in order to take on a personal assistant position for the CEO of Fortunata Fashions. At the time, the concept of quitting anything was so appalling to me, even at such a young age. I was always in it to win it (a trait that still remains even now), but I came to see the act as letting go instead of giving up a little over a decade later.
After graduating from college, I had finally snagged an internship at one of the industry’s biggest magazines, truly putting my $40K/year degree in French and Arabic to good use. I was convinced this would be my big break –- due to my naiveté and my desperate need for a job. Upon arrival, I realized I was just one of about ten interns and I spent my entire day traveling up and down the west side of NYC, returning samples to showrooms.
Don’t get me wrong, I was honored to have even been chosen, but I needed to start earning enough to at least finance my daily comings and goings, as well as obtaining an internship that actually put me in front of key players so I could impress someone enough to land myself a job. This was doing neither of those things. I wasn’t using any of my skill sets and I actually hated what I was doing. I was working at a magazine I read cover to cover for years, but I was miserable: go figure! I had to do something…and I had to do it fast. I talked it over with my mom and I quit. A little part of my fashion spirit died that day, but the next day I snagged an interview with the company that led to my first position in fashion.
Quitting wasn’t so bad after all and I still look at this first example from Rachel’s career path as advice to take a risk to do what’s right for you, even if you don’t always have it all planned out. We only have one life to live (that I know of thus far), so we should try to make this one count and fill it with as much happiness as possible. Funnily enough, Rachel only ended up working at Fortunata for one episode…but the value is in the story! I’m going to refrain from saying YOLO here…so instead I’ll say Carpe Diem!
2. The interview process never ever gets better and in “The One With Rachel’s Inadvertent Kiss”, Rachel royally screws up an interview at Ralph Lauren for a Women’s Collection Coordinator position. On her first round, she mistakes the interviewer’s slight lean while opening the door for her as a sign to kiss him on the cheek. Disastrous life fail!
Perhaps that’s the way they end things in Paris, but it surely isn’t the standard in the Big Apple. Luckily, she gets called for a second round, but takes the same interviewer’s gesture to tend to the ink on her lip as a sign for a make out session and she bolts out the door (clearly this is a comedy). On the third and final round (you’d never get this many chances in real life), she accidentally grabs the interviewer’s genitals while going to shake his hand. And after all that…she still got the job!
I also had an extremely crappy and nowhere near as hilarious interview. I was up for an Assistant Buyer position at one of the world’s leading online fashion retailers, vying for the spot against my co-worker who had become a good friend. It was the middle of the summer and my first mistake was opting for a dress that didn’t fall below my knee. My curves have always been too much for the average LBD and lo and behold, my thighs were showing!
Nevertheless, I was ready to make a good impression. I left early and had time to spare, but I couldn’t figure out the confusing Long Island City streets upon my exit from the train station. I hopped in a cab because I knew it was close, yet…the cab took me over the bridge and back to the city! WTF! Now I was really late…and sweaty. I know I succeeded at the interview, but I know that lateness counted against me.
Let’s face it: a black woman trying to snag positions in fashion has to be on point and better than anyone else. Sadly, my co-worker got the position instead of me and I cried myself to sleep for more nights than I’d care to admit, but in less than a year, I got a new and exciting job, benefits, and after it all…I ended up here right?
Interviews might not be a frequent thing, but one door closed truly means another door is opening somewhere else. The beauty of the fashion industry is that there are hundreds of places to work, even though there’s a little pang when you don’t get that job you were coveting for years. Another great part of the industry is that staff is always revolving so when that hiring manager glosses you over initially, you might have a second chance when she’s out the door. I suggest you keep your hand steadily clicking on LinkedIn to stay updated!
3. My last inspiring Rachel Green moment is still one that hasn’t quite come to fruition for me. We can file this under an inspiring Lauren Conrad moment as well (this is the only one in that file) as they both have Paris in common. Rachel was offered a high-powered position at Louis Vuitton in Paris, which I think was pretty big as she was the head of Visual Menswear Merchandising at RL at the time.
I mean…no one gets a job at Louis Vuitton unless you’re très française and look like the spitting image of Geraldine Saglio. I don’t think there’s any fashion-loving woman on this planet who wouldn’t do a bad thing or two for a role like that and though I haven’t been offered to move to the City of Lights just yet, I’m speaking it into existence.
I love New York, but it will always be here and Paris is one of my favorite places in the entire universe. It also spoke to Rachel’s work and relationships in the industry for her to have been offered such a coveted position. That was after eight years in the game (I’m on my fifth), so we’ll see what happens in three years. I have a long way to go and funny anecdotes from Rachel Green to keep me company the entire ride. Who knows how else she’ll inspire me in the years to come...
Are there any "Friends" moments that have inspired you? Or any fictional TV characters you’re madly obsessed with? Dish please!