Whereas most young ladies enter college with a wide-eyed view on life and a vague idea of what they want out of a future career, 21 year old Rachel Schwartzmann discovered her passion in the midst of university applications and dared to turn that passion into profession. At present, she’s now the founder and CEO of The Style Line, a website that aims to bring story-telling back to the web through selective interviews and one-of-a-kind company features. We love her zeal to finely craft and pursue her dream at such a young age, and are genuinely excited to introduce you to such a driven, yet delightful, young woman.
After getting to know Rachel here, be sure to check out the Darling inspired interviews that we’ve curated together and debuted earlier this week on her blog, here — eight amazing women to personify our eight Darling personas. Enter in and enjoy the story.
Darling Magazine: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in writing?
Rachel: I’ve lived in three states: California, Texas and for the past 10 years, New York. I can say that New York has really made me appreciate the arts, but I’ve always written. Diaries, short stories, poetry … has all of it been good? Probably not, but I’ve found that it’s a very relieving experience for me to express myself in this medium. I’ve also been told that my writing voice is louder than my speaking voice, which I agree with. I’ve also always been an avid reader, which I think has also really helped me develop my voice and perspective. There’s nothing more permanent than ink on paper. To me, that’s very compelling.
DM:What led to The Style Line’s creation? Where do you see it going in the future?
Rachel: The Style Line was derived for my growing love for fashion in high school. At the time, I was studying dance at a performing arts high school here in New York, but I found myself at a crossroads as I was getting ready to apply for colleges. I decided to apply for fashion-oriented programs and decided to take my application one step further (it’s the achiever in me), and include a link to my tumblr blog (which I’m still active on) called The Style Line. It was originally inspired by the NYC transit system and I modeled the content after the idea of a train traveling around the city, searching for style. Up until it’s recent relaunch, the blog was primarily street style/snapshot interviews with global influencers. I decided to expand on the idea of interviews with the newest version of the site. As far as the future is concerned, I can really only take things day by day right now. I know I at least have the germ of the idea, so for the future, my goal is to go full-force with it.
DM: Why an interview-only approach? How do you decide who to feature?
Rachel: Prior to the relaunch I took into account the reaction of my readers in regards to what they liked and disliked about the content. There was a very positive response to the interview format and I myself have always been more accustomed to reading interviews for various reasons. I think it’s easier on the eye to read things line by line, since you can almost pick and choose what you want to focus your attention on. That’s key, since our attention spans are dwindling. I also think of interviews as conversations, which to me is much more inviting than having an article throw information at you.
On deciding who to feature, I usually think of who would be the best fit for our specific editorial themes for the month. I try to choose themes that are culturally relevant, sought after, and that will appeal to many of our readers. I also really want to hone in on the stories of our interviewees, who are either embracing or challenging the topic being discussed. It’s been a process trying to achieve this, but I think we’re slowly getting there.
DM: What makes someone a good interviewer and, conversely, a good interviewee?
Rachel: Simply put, I think a good interviewee is someone who has the courage to challenge a question and engage with the interviewer (and, therefore, the reader) on a much more intimate level. At the other end of the spectrum, a good interviewer isn’t someone who accepts things the way they are but goes beyond the confines on what they feel is the easiest or most “appropriate” questions to ask their interviewee. They both have to go the extra mile. They both have to take a chance. Furthermore, they both have to learn how to do these things. It all comes with time and experience.
Simply put, I think a good interviewee is someone who has the courage to challenge a question and engage with the interviewer (and, therefore, the reader) on a much more intimate level.
DM: Do you think our culture’s obsession with technology and social media has helped or hindered our ability to communicate?
Rachel: It depends on who you’re talking to. This is probably going to be an uphill battle as technology becomes more and more heavily integrated into increasing elements of our lives. I think, in a way, it’s very damaging to have so many resources at hand that allow us to publish our immediate thoughts to the world — 140 characters can do more harm than you might think. But, at the same time it’s liberating because it allows us to create opportunities for ourselves and engage with those who we may not have the chance to immediately connect with. All in all, it is something that will constantly be a part of our lives, so we better find a way to get used to it.
DM: How can we foster more creative and courteous conversation-making during the holidays?
Rachel: Remove FaceTime and replace it with actual face time. Although, it’s kind of hard to genuinely do that when your instagramming the Thanksgiving turkey (trust me, I’m also guilty of this). But I think for 5-6 hours you spend eating, chatting and indulging in holiday cheer the phones need to be put away. Maybe this is going back to the last question you asked, but in some regard, technology makes us so self-involved that we forget that the rest of the world is functioning — waiting for us to return to it. With that being said, I think it’s really important to remove “I” and incorporate “we.” The holidays are a time to celebrate the ones around you. When we start to engage in conversation that stretches beyond what we want or complaining about what we don’t have, we can focus on simply being with the ones around us. The room will definitely start to get a little more cheery.
… technology makes us so self-involved that we forget that the rest of the world is functioning — waiting for us to return to it.
DM: What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own blog and maintain a unique voice?
Rachel: I would say to be clear on what your intent is going to be. If you’re doing it as a hobby then great, it’s an amazing way to document your life experiences and have the ability to share them. If you’re doing with the goal of monetizing, establish a sense of consistency, identify your market, and figure out how you can maintain success and drive interest in that field. Then, assess what’s missing. This all comes in time, so be patient. Look to people who inspire you, but don’t necessarily imitate them. Most importantly, and I don’t know if I can say this any clearer, but, take risks. Take. Risks.
DM: How do you maintain a sense of identity outside of what you do for a living?
Rachel: It’s funny, you expect things to go a certain way and they don’t and you have to adjust. At this point in time, I’m the founder of a new business and I’m learning how to adjust to handling the immense responsibility that comes with that. Quite honestly, this might make me sound like a shut-in, but I’d rather forgo a night out with friends to spend a few more hours revising and strategizing on whatever project it is that I’m working on. I’ve left school to do this and my only priority right now is to continue building and protecting the integrity of this brand that I hold so dearly to my heart.
I understand that balance is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy life and like all young people, I know I’ll get there and I know I’ll find it in time. But for right now, I accept that I’m way off kilter. So to answer your question: I actually don’t maintain that outside sense of identity. I can’t. My job is truly a part of me and until I learn to let go a little bit, or decide if I even I want to, The Style Line and Rachel Schwartzmann are one in the same.
Image courtesy of Jinna Yang