Rachel Carrasco, is the 33-year old Girl Boss extraordinaire behind RACHE, a Singapore-based experience and marketing company, and she is the perfect example of an empowered Female Entrepreneur.
Through resilience and taking the pandemic in her stride, her company RACHE has finally become exactly what she initially intended it to be. The Sybarite speaks to Rachel about the importance of experiences over products, her charity work, her love for bacon and what it takes to work hard to achieve your dreams.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in the Philippines. I started out in a marketing career there 13 years ago, I was a marketing assistant for a friend’s event company, and that’s when I realised that this was my passion, this was the path that was for me. Although I was not entirely sure what type of marketing or what industry I wanted to be in or what category I was going to play in.
I did that for about 5 years in the Philippines till I moved here. Manila is a very different environment - you don't really get the exposure in terms of regional and global playing field. So I decided to make the move to Singapore in about 2012.
I was in my mid 20s and I had to restart my whole career. Having never worked overseas before, and it is pretty competitive when you get to progressive countries like Singapore, New York, Hong Kong and London. So I started as an marketing assistant for the Royal Bank of Scotland and I worked for a senior MD which gave me a great platform, and the role eventually evolved to becoming his business manager.
But of course, my heart was really in marketing. So I said I would give myself two years to get myself to a place that I really loved. I didn’t finish university, I went straight to work, so at this new stage in my life, I thought, I am just going to go out there and pursue my dreams. People always say, it is going to be so hard, you are not going to make it, you need a degree to make that happen. But I just tried, and I kept trying, and kept applying, and eventually I got a brand manager position at LVMH. I was doing the accounts for Dom Perignon, Krug and Ruinart, and I did that for about four years. This is when I realised I wanted to be in luxury and lifestyle, and particularly in fine wines, spirits, fine dining, as those were the experiential based categories which I loved about my job.
Growing up in the Philippines taught me to be very entrepreneurial. I knew that one day I would do something amazing, for my own, I just wasn’t sure what that was. I was young! And I tried going out on my own when I was like 21, but that didn’t work out very well. I tried putting up a marketing agency, just to test it out, but I was too young. But I had the fight in me!
After LVMH I moved onto Kimberley Clark, where I looked after feminine care. It is hard for me to work at something that I dont fully believe in, and with the women empowerment angle here, it was so easy and enjoyable for me to do.
I feel like everything happens for a reason. When I moved onto my next job the MD suggested I set up my own consultancy company and work for them like that. And I just thought, how is that going to work? Am I really going to lose the financial stability of a job and start my own business? Do I have the time and effort to really go for it this time? But I went for it and once I fully dedicated myself to my own company, I quickly starting getting calls from Moet Hennessy, my old company and now American Express, specifically for food.
I set that up 4 years ago, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I had a vision when I started that I wanted to build out a fully experiential company - I might not have known exactly what that meant, but I knew I wanted to create experiences for brands.
Why has experiential branding always been the way forward for you?
I love the way that it allows us to tell stories, to tell stories of brands and other people, that basically helps and inspires your audience. It is almost like you are imparting knowledge and you are educating your audience - be it through travel, through food, through drink. When we buy a handbag, the story behind the craft and the craftsmen is what makes it so special and what really draws me in. This led to me knowing exactly what I want from RACHE - I want the company to be able to pull other people’s stories and used them to tell stories in innovative ways.
When I first started the company four years ago, what I knew best was marketing and branding, and that is what the company initially was. But it was actually last year, the year of the pandemic, that gave me time to think. I went through a number of personal experiences that made me also want to rebrand and make the company more my own, make it RACHE. So this last year, I was going through this pandemic and so many businesses lost interest in marketing as they were making cuts and I thought no - let me go back to the core of what I wanted this businesses to be in the first place. I have gone through my own losses, business and work wise, and at the end of the day what do I want to do with my company? I want to help people. I want to inspire people and evolve from who I was, and I have the ability to do that.
What is RACHE’s goal and how has that developed in the last year?
Currently I have three pillars in my company. The first pillar is people, people teach you so many things and you are able to elevate yourself and learn from others. Next you have brands, brands give a point of view, a story, and angle, and I wanted to continue doing that in the sense of marketing. And then I added the third pillar which was empowerment. I have always wanted to focus on female empowerment and I never had the capacity to really make it a part of my business. But during lockdown I was like, this is it, I am making this company what I now realise it was set out to be. With that, the whole vision of RACHE came together - to help others become the best versions of themselves, whether through storytelling or through classes you can provide, branding, through empowerment causes. Do what you can! That is how it all aligned.
Right now, I continue what I do, which is the marketing, and branding. How I want to achieve my greater goal is by creating a mini series that would discuss, with key opinion leaders, key issues in the world, and how to promote that. Likewise, we are working with two charitable organisations here in Singapore, one is an organisation that looks into policies on gender equality, of which I cannot reveal exactly which it is. But we are looking at how we can tackle corporate issues, in the workplace, on gender equality, pay equality, sexual harassment in the workplace, and how we can support them in terms of services we can provide for them - talks, training etc. Then the other project, which is another organisation which educates domestic workers on how to save money to start their own business. Being Filipinno, there are so many domestic workers here that are Filipinno, so this is a cause that is really close to my heart. So we are working on I can volunteer to do a skills session to teach them about leadership, starting your own brand and reviewing what they have done so far and how they can improve this.
Tell us a bit more about your snack brand, Baken, and your cocktail brand Rio Strong.
Aside from this, I am a super true foodie at heart. So I am currently working on my own F&B concept, I already have a snack brand called Baken, which is an all bacon confectionery line. This will launch by the first week of May and actually has been in development for the last three years. I got the idea in Cape Town, where I walked into an all bacon restaurant, and they had this deli which sold all these wonderful all bacon products. I am a massive bacon fan, I grew up with it and I am obsessed. So it was a fun thought in 2017, but now it is actually happening.
Rio Strong is a brand I am launching in the Philippines. The campaign around that is centred around being strong enough to withstand the crazy world out there, hence the name Rio Strong. So how Strong are you? Especially after last year, I think we have all had to be our strongest.. And then down the road I have a couple of F&B concepts I am exploring, so by the end of the year I have launched my group of companies, that all have a strong link to F&B.
What have been some of the highlights of your career and where do you hope to see your career go?
During my time at LVMH, my eyes were opened to many things. Singapore is one of the key markets so I managed to do some really cool stuff for them. Especially for Dom Perignon, there was a lot around power creation events, and being able to create proper journeys through food and wine. And that really fortified my love for this category.
I hope this year I hope I can venture into new experiential areas, those around travel and around homes. I just really want to keep doing that. If beautiful comes up, that would be amazing. Personal luxury goods, I would love that too. But I want to keep it all within the whole experiential category. You see clients and guests appreciate and light up when they take part in an experience and that feeling really draws you in. Buying a luxury product is one thing, but I feel like experiences stay in people’s minds longer.
I often say in my company now that product has become the by-product of experience. People in general, love to share - and you can really only share an experience in that sense. And those experiences almost become a social currency, from a marketer’s point of view. Saying you climbed Mount Everest, or rode across the Sahara Desert, those are the things that appeal to people in a modern age more than material things, in my opinion.
What are you most looking forward to post-pandemic?
I think business-wise, it is getting back to creating all the experiences. I am so grateful for the time we have had to do so much planning. So once things open up, all those plans can just roll out. But likewise, we are focussing a lot on at-home experiences, because I do not think the popularity of those will die down, as people want new ways to enjoy and experience products from home. I think it will just also be so amazing to go back to having people around your house, at home entertaining. And the ability to showcase a new collection of products to people, in person.
Personally, I do have a place I really want to go - but don’t laugh. I really want to go to the Holy Land, go to Jerusalem. I am sure most people will say to you, I want to go to the Maldives, or on this city break. But I have actually always wanted to go. I have travelled through Europe, I have seen a lot of Asia. When I was 19, i started going to the Middle East, and I went back just before COVID hit - I went to Oman, I went to Dubai, I went to Abu Dhabi. And I really, really love it. And the Holy Land has been on my list but no one ever wants to go with me!! So with everything that happened last year, worldwide and personally, I am just like I am not waiting a second longer, I will go by myself!
But aside from that, i just want to have the ability to travel. I want to go somewhere secluded like the Maldives, and I want to explore new countries in Africa and really immerse myself in the nature. I am on a path of really finding myself, so where I normally would always go with someone, I am totally up for travelling on my own post-pandemic.
As a successful woman who started her own business, what advice would you give to other women trying to do the same?
I have three qualities that I feel like any woman trying to start her own business should have. The first is vision. You really need to be able to see the impossible. You have to believe in your idea, because everyone will tell you it is a crazy idea. So many times people told me huh what are you going to do? How are you going to do that? Why are you doing that? So you need to have vision. The second thing is action. You need to make that vision a reality, it is you who will bring this idea to life. And you are going to have to figure out exactly how you do that. And you need the discipline to make it happen. The third thing is determination, because you are going to have to keep on going. It took me four years to get RACHE to the vision that I really wanted it to be. A friend of mine told me that it takes about 10 years for a business to really set itself. It takes 5 years to really build a business, and by the 5th year it is semi-okay. Then it takes another 5 years to make it really something. And there I was young, thinking I could do this in a couple of years.
So many times I thought to myself - am I crazy? Should I throw in the towel? But now, when I see it all come together, and become RACHE, what it was really meant to be, I am really glad I stuck with it. There were so many times where I thought, I am just going to go back to corporate life. I had key supporters in my life that basically said, if you do go back to corporate, you are going to get that same feeling in two or three years and regret not going for it.
So stick it out guys! Stick it out now and everything will work out.
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