‘I knew where I wanted to be’

Fashion designer Rachel Maguire now dresses A-list celebrities including Doja Cat, Megan Fox, and Megan Thee Stallion but before she started her fashion brand Rashhiiid, she was feeling a bit lost.

“I’d done a lot of living,” she reflects. “I’d been partying a lot. I needed to feel passion. Being a workaholic now is a blessing. I’ve found something productive that I love.”

The Dubliner had tried to apply herself to a number of college courses but found herself bored and uninspired.

“I did social science, psychology, marketing — all those things that I thought were expected of me to get a conventional career.”

Rachel had been customising clothes all the way back to her school years where she would annoy the teachers for altering her uniform.

She was chatting to her mum’s friend one day — an art teacher — who took one look at Rachel’s unique ensemble and suggested doing fashion design.

“Back then, fashion wasn’t really an option for college. It was only after that conversation I re-characterised what at that point I viewed as a hobby.”

Rachel weighed up the various outlets, including the more conceptual design course at NCAD and courses that focused on illustration and Photoshop. She gravitated toward something far more hands-on.

“I really needed something that I enjoyed to apply myself to. The Grafton Academy was seven hours a day on sewing machines or pattern construction — it was entirely practical.”

Continuing on to do her Masters was a rite of passage, but, again, she found herself itching to kick-start her career and leave the textbooks behind.

“It was the societal pressure of what’s expected of you — a degree isn’t enough. I knew well I didn’t want to be there,” Rachel explains.

It all changed when she got her first direct message on Instagram from a celebrity.

It was actress Vanessa Hudgens, who wrote ‘Oh my god, I’ve been looking for hats like these. Can I can I buy a hat off you?’

“I didn’t even have a website,” Rachel says. “I had just been selling hats through word of mouth or the page I had.”

Rashhiiid: “Megan Thee Stallion’s stylist or Doja Cat herself don’t stumble upon Rachel from Ireland, they come across an influencer in America or wherever it is.” Pic: Nina Val
Rashhiiid: “Megan Thee Stallion’s stylist or Doja Cat herself don’t stumble upon Rachel from Ireland, they come across an influencer in America or wherever it is.” Pic: Nina Val

Her faux fur hats were a huge hit with the influencer community and after gifting a few pieces, more and more style icons were contacting her with commissions.

“I was under the table DMing finance managers and marketers, not paying attention [in class]. I knew exactly where I wanted to be. I dropped out and went full throttle, launched my website, got the staff, all the necessary machinery and just decided that this is what I was going to do.”

It was difficult in the beginning. Rachel knew she wanted premium quality fabric from reputable suppliers and she wanted to stick to the ethos of having quality products handmade in Ireland.

“I was using all local fabric shops but I realised I wanted materials that no one else had so I went to very long measures to find a luxury supplier of faux fur and that’s why they are unique.”

She got Vanessa’s hat ready for her very quickly and shortly after the celebrity received it, a post appeared on Hudgens’ Instagram recommending Rachel’s designs as “items made with heart, dedication and quality products. Did I mention, HAND MADE?!”

It might seem like gifting celebs and influencers is working for free but these were the “building blocks”

from which Rachel grew her business.

“It’s not working for free actually. It’s gifting in return for a tag. A social media type is realistically how I’ve been able to access A-list celebrities.

“Megan Thee Stallion’s stylist or Doja Cat herself don’t stumble upon Rachel from Ireland, they come across an influencer in America or wherever it is, and go and enquire and see who made the hat.”

Doja Cat wearing a pink hat designed by Rashhiiid.pink hat designed by Rashhiiid.” class=”card-img”/>
Doja Cat wearing a pink hat designed by Rashhiiid.

While Rachel started out not really knowing what she wanted in return for the gift, she has now learned that being clear from the outset prevents disappointment.

“You might feel like you’re not getting anywhere with these influencers.

“It might feel soul-destroying, like; ‘oh god, she only tagged me in the second photo and it ended up only being on Stories.”

Of all the celebrities Rachel has dressed, Doja Cat is the most meaningful.

“I was going down a DMs dark hole and scrolling on Instagram when I came across a DM from Doja Cat and it was life-changing. Definitely, keeping the faith in this whole game is crucial because that’s how I got there.”

Doja Cat is known for experimenting with wild looks, whether it’s using her body as a canvas for 30,000 Swarovski crystals at Schiaperelli, paying homage to Karl Lagerfield and his famous feline with facial prosthetics resembling a cat, or inexplicably wearing a chair as a hat.

That devil-may-care attitude is what drew Rachel to Doja and she had always admired her slant towards owning a look and steering away from trends.

“It’s actually rare that a celebrity inspires your personal style and your playlist on Spotify.

“Every other A-list encounter was cool because they were famous as opposed to someone I genuinely stayed up late at night watching interviews with. Doja Cat is exactly that.”

With influencers, Rachel often requires a tag on social media but with A-listers, it’s usually enough that they are just spotted wearing her designs, as is the norm with a lot of independent fashion designers. However, Doja Cat went the extra mile and mentioned her anyway.

“She was so kind and incredibly generous to give that public crediting,” Rachel says.

She wants Rashhiiid to reflect her own values, which include fairness and inclusivity.

While the previous owner of Lululemon recently came under fire for saying that all brands can’t be everything to everyone, Rachel says that Rashhiiid is for anyone who wants to express themselves.

You’ll see people of all shapes, sizes, sexualities and gender identities rocking Rashhiiid in her tags.

“During covid, I was bored, I was lonely. I wanted to express myself and wearing my hats to the supermarket genuinely resonated with people.

“I don’t think too deeply into exclusivity or inclusivity. I just connected with people that feel they can express themselves through my designs.

“And whoever fits that mould, I’m thrilled with that.”

Rachel’s hats are an affordable luxury, they’re loud, beautifully made and exquisitely packaged, often accompanied by a handwritten note.

She also sells leg warmers, jackets and bags and prices range from €70 for furry ears to €990 for a lush long indigo faux fur coat.

Sustainability is important to Rachel and she’s keen to reiterate the message that slow fashion doesn’t necessarily mean forking out on expensive designer clothing — it’s also about wearing what you have and hitting the vintage and charity shops.

Ethical production isn’t just about the materials and knowing the physical labour that goes into sewing, Rachel is passionate about creating a safe and comfortable environment for her staff.

“I can control how it’s made. It’s much more difficult to train in my own team members because faux fur is one of the most difficult materials to work with in the world, you’re driving a fake animal through a tiny needle. It’s actual exercise.

“Sometimes you’re sweating, depending on how thick the fur is. I don’t want them made in terrible conditions. I am very proud of my country. For a full faux fur coat to be handmade in Ireland is unheard of.”

So, how did she get started?

“Hat by hat,” she says. Aged just 27, Rachel has achieved more than many up-and-coming designers dream of. And what keeps her inspired? A secret pic sent by Doja Cat wearing a pink hat that is now the screensaver on her phone and the DM to beat all DMs: “I HATE YOU I NEED MORE. These hats are the best thing I own!”

  • Photographed at Shouk, Drumcondra, Dublin. shouk.ie

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