IN CONVERSATION WITH RACHEL, DIGITAL CREATOR AND FOUNDER OF WARDE

In a conversation for Flowe Journal, we ask digital creator and Warde founder Rachel Nguyen about her relationship with the internet, building community, the importance of spirituality and self-awareness, and more.
When Rachel Nguyen started her blog in 2007, the internet was a fresh, blank canvas. There was no vocabulary like ‘blogger’ or ‘influencer’ to describe her work, nor was there pressure to indulge any algorithm. To Rachel, That’s Chic merely served as an open diary of sorts and outlet for creativity. 


After a decade of growing up in the digital age, she is now an all-around creative force — working as a brand consultant, art director, social media creator, and founder of the growing online community that is Warde. But despite her multi-hyphenate nature, Rachel seeks to go beyond labels and productivity. 


In the latest Flowe Journal, we chat with Rachel about her relationship with the internet, building community, and the importance of spirituality and self-awareness. 



Photo credit: thatschic.net

HI, RACHEL. COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU CURRENTLY DO? 


I go in waves of these personality deep dives through different modalities, and my last one was a human design reading. Very interesting so I’ll kinda go off that. According to my BodyGraph, I’m an open person — open-minded, open-hearted, and open to ideas. I’m so open that I intake more than I can handle and can lose sight of my capacity and explode, like an overfilled tub. I think my strange line of work reflects that. I’ve accidentally and continually have made a living off of merely existing online. One of my favorite parts of the reading that I want to lean into more now, is understanding that I can be a voice for others. My best works I make are ones where I try to reflect a collective experience through the lens of something I am going through. Not sure what that is, but that’s where I’m at. Alas this is some really abstract, think bubble about me making videos online and teaching.



YOU’VE BEEN DOCUMENTING YOUR LIFE ONLINE FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS. COULD YOU WALK US THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY OF BUILDING THAT’S CHIC AND VENTURING INTO YOUTUBE? WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET STARTED?


My creative and emotional involvement has taken on so many different forms. It feels repetitive to talk about my beginnings because it starts to just feel like a story I’ve told myself rather than a felt experience – but, it goes like this: 


2007: That’s Chic started as a blog in highschool as an outlet to do something cute and creative. 


2010: The internet started to morph into a co-opted space and bloggers were gaining attention from the industry as to even start attending shows. 


2013: Didn’t like how I was feeling about doing static images of outfit posts against pretty backdrops, so I started YouTube as a means to reset and get back to the joy of creation. Had a really fun, vibrant first 3-5 years doing videos and started to taper out. 


Questioning myself and doubting my work as always, but I guess that’s how people evolve?


THE ONLINE SPACE, PARTICULARLY IN FASHION AND LIFESTYLE, CAN SOMETIMES FEEL SATURATED. BUT YOU’VE MANAGED TO CARVE OUT A PLATFORM AND VOICE THAT IS SELF-AWARE AND EMBRACES VULNERABILITY. HOW DID YOU CULTIVATE SUCH A UNIQUE, AUTHENTIC PERSPECTIVE?


I’m not sure I have a tactile answer. I try to not get stuck in the sauce of what people are doing. Whether that is participating in it to catch up or actively rebelling it (the latter is one I’m more guilty of). Either way is a path of external influence. So some sort of spiritual practice is important to me, which is ultimately having a confident relationship with myself. And naturally, it waivers. So I remind myself that living is a practice. Also having the language to articulate why I like things helps me narrow in on an understanding beyond surface level inspiration.


HOW HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE INTERNET AND CREATING CHANGED SINCE YOU BEGAN? WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF ALONG THE WAY?

It changes all the time and the best thing I can do is be gentle on myself. It’s a lot of energy, opinions, influencers happening all at once and I’ve just learned how to filter out the things I gravitate towards.

YOU FOUNDED WARDE, AN ONLINE COMMUNITY AND “SAFE SPACE ON THE INTERNET.” NOW, IT HAS THOUSANDS OF MEMBERS AROUND THE GLOBE. COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT IT? WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO GET STARTED?


Warde was really fun and served a purpose for a nostalgic itch I needed to scratch. It was a fun project and one that I had big ideas for (having active and diverse projects is a fun way to channel different creative cravings), but I feel less connected to it now. Of course, with the internet cyclicating so quickly, I’m seeing another way Warde can serve, but time will make the picture clearer.



HOW HAS WARDE AND THE COMMUNITY EVOLVED SINCE ITS BEGINNING? WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE THESE SAFE SPACES AND COMMUNITIES NOWADAYS?


We need people and it’s nice to have half the work already thought out for you when there are like-minded, diverse people. We actually stopped using the word ‘safe space,’ it felt too absolutist for such a nuanced idea. ‘Safe’ is different to everyone and some people don’t know how to be safe to others. People’s needs are different, so we were workshopping other adjectives. Never landed on one but a few are: brave, guided, radical, ever-evolving space.


YOU'RE TRANSPARENT ABOUT YOUR DEDICATION TO SPIRITUALITY, WELLNESS, AND MINDFULNESS. WHAT ROLE DO THESE PLAY IN YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS AND DAY-TO-DAY?

It informs everything for me. Ultimately, clarity.


Photo credit: thatschic.net

WALK US THROUGH A DAY IN YOUR LIFE. ARE THERE ANY EVERYDAY RITUALS YOU ENJOY, OR THINGS YOU LIKE TO DO TO DISCONNECT?


I just moved in with my partner and we made sure to have our home be very intentional in what we put in it, what each space is used for, and how we interact with it. These days feel like the most magical days of my life in a home environment.


Because I have a dog, I’m forced to go on a walk AM/PMs which is an overall very nice habit, and my neighborhood has many lovely walks. I try to do something active at least once a week or a nature-y endeavor, like surfing. I think, just being around someone who is present with me fills me up so much too. It’s so recharging living with someone who adores me and vice versa. I can’t say I’ve ever had this feeling before.

WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL ALIVE?

The thrill when something that should be yours comes into your orbit.



Rachel uses the Striped Multi-Purpose Performance Towel in Forest. All photos and imagery are property of Rachel Nguyen / That’s Chic.