From fall 2017 to spring 2018, I worked as a personal assistant for Kaela Rawson, a designer based (at the time) in Nashville.
I want to reflect on my time working for her here.
As humans in the world right now, we have so many misconceptions about people by only knowing them through social platforms. When our lens is that concentrated, we form an idea in our minds of how a person is and should be. My view of Kaela was no different as of fall 2017. When the company I was working for decided to take an indefinite hiatus, I reached out to Kaela via Facebook to see if she needed a hand. I'd admired her work for about three years, since early college. I was terrified to reach out because of the usual reasons: I didn't want her to think I was stupid, and I didn't want her to think I was desperate. Being twenty-something presents a unique cocktail of self-loathing, doubt, insecurity, and unbridled passion.
When she replied saying she actually did need help, I was surprised and thrilled! In reality, she probably could have brought on about four versions of me; that's how much work she was doing. She was working 90 to 100 hours a week on a full-time project as well as freelance work. I still have not and will never meet another human that has as much on his or her plate as Kaela Rawson does.
My preconceived notions of Kaela were that she was very put-together, supremely talented, and... elevated? I don't know if that's the right word, but I'll put it in anyway. After meeting her, I knew I couldn't have been more wrong. Not that she was a mess by any means, but she's human. It's instinct to put the people we admire on pedestals, but they are human just the same as us. Kaela is even more talented than I imagined, and so real and honest. She was willing to take time to teach me things, tell me about places she's been and things she likes, and make me feel included. She spends almost no time at all on herself; she is hyper-focused on being the best she can be for those around her. She apologizes too much, and sells her talent far too short, which I promise is a compliment. She is quite honestly the best designer I have ever met.
Being a personal assistant was the most laid-back, natural, and fun job I've ever had. Some days I was plugging names into wedding suite designs and other days I was helping Kaela decide what pair of Loq shoes to buy (which, by the way, I didn't help with as she gained about three pairs in a month's span). Some days it felt like I was simply keeping her world from crashing down just by answering a couple emails for her. I like that role— I like being someone that can relieve another of work. To make another creative's work easier is a really enjoyable job for me.
Kaela had about three things happening in her work at the time I came on: she was transitioning out of designing elevated wedding paper goods, working full-time branding an e-commerce platform out of Atlanta, and creating brand identities for fashion and other companies. The latter got her noticed by Linda Honan, a creative director and leading consultant for the health, beauty, and wellness industries. Linda wanted to build a bridge to another industry: fashion. Kaela became her personal pont du gard.
As of March 2018, Kaela lives in Los Angeles working full-time as an art director for Linda Honan, and has already worked on projects that would have most people drooling. To say I'm proud is an understatement. To have worked under a woman with as much talent and skill as Kaela was both a joy and honor. While working for her I had an interview with The Wing and enough courage to ask Sharon Van Etten if I could meet with her; I truly don't think I could have done either of those things without the confidence I gained from working with Kaela everyday.
The personal project I'm working on now— Midnight Woman, was fully branded by Kaela pro bono. Because she believes in supporting women. Her passion for social justice would no doubt have her in politics if she didn't already have so much on her plate.
Pictured above is a shoot Kaela photographed and styled for Good Queen Bess, a friend's company. That's my hand in the left photo! In the second photo, my arms are about to give out because I am holding up that grey backdrop. Working on shoots like this was an exciting thing for me.
Kaela taught me about design and a million other things. I guess what the takeaway of this post should be is this— reach out to the people that inspire you. Don't discredit yourself before you even try, be willing to learn and take criticism, and give every single day your all.
Most of the styled photos I've included in this post are of Kaela's work for Coeur, her new project. It allows her to continue providing wedding paper goods, but as semi-custom work rather than fully-custom. The photos were taken by M.K. Sadler unless otherwise stated!
To Kaela... I'll always be here to organize your Dropbox anytime you need me.