Glam Gal Rach
Researching consumer profiles, keeping an eye on the competitors, measuring results, always tweaking the next campaign. Such is the life of Rachel Byrne. It sounds intense. But this Irish gal knows how to keep the good times rolling. "If I had one word to describe my group of friends," she says, "it would be fun. We all love having fun and living our best lives."
When is Rach living her best life? In new pyjamas and fluffy slipper socks with her parents in Kildare on Christmas Eve after a few too many glasses of Cabernet.
Incidentally, I found this fellow little lamb on Twitter dot com. If I’m not mistaken, we exchanged stories of the emotional unavailability of French men. She too enjoys people-watching, Wes Anderson, and 80s pop culture. We both cite Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and The Breakfast Club as some of our favourite films. Not to mention... neither of us trust bankers. Keep reading to learn more about this effervescent Irish personality.
RS: I met you for the first time in real life in Paris when we had breakfast together on your 27th birthday. The day after the 8th Amendment was repealed. How did you feel about that landmark referendum?
RB: It was one of the best days of my life. I have spent the last few years marching, lobbying, and generally shouting and screaming amongst my Irish sisters for the repeal of the 8th Amendment from the Irish Constitution. The 8th Amendment restricted women from receiving an abortion in Ireland. Thankfully in May this year we joined the 21st century and voted in favour of Repeal.
RS: Where are you from originally?
RB: A town called Naas in Kildare.
RS: What do you do in Dublin?
RB: I work in Digital Marketing and Events. I'm now in the charity sector which is a lovely (albeit sometimes difficult) place to be. I have only been in the sector for ten months.
RS: Do you think marketing is an art?
RB: I would think so. It is a form of expression. It can be subjective. If you're not putting yourself into the shoes of your target audience, you're not going to capture them, you won't sell your product/service. Creativity is key; a great strategy is just as important!
RS: Yet you don't find yourself attracted to any particular type of brand?
RB: I use products that I find useful and I buy the clothes that I see and like. I am not very loyal to brands. If something better or cheaper comes along I would probably switch quick enough!
RS: I appreciate the honesty. You can call yourself a true Gemini.
RB: Yes, I'm changeable. In my five years in marketing, I have hopped from tourism marketing, to sportswear, to a music magazine... Now I'm here [in the charity sector]! I love the people aspect. I used to love doing trade shows when I worked in the Netherlands. Having all of the chats!
RS: But moving to Amsterdam was initially the scariest thing you've ever done?
RB: Also the best thing I have ever done. I do enjoy the company of my friends and loved ones but I learned to enjoy my own company in my early twenties and I think that everyone should learn to enjoy being alone at some stage.
RS: I completely agree. You also took Dutch lessons?
RB: I took Dutch lessons and now I have a good level of Dutch. Many expats would speak badly of the language and talk about how harsh it sounded, but I think it sounds like a song!
RS: So you've always had a flair for languages.
RB: I absolutely adore languages. I used to live in France and I spoke French so well during my time there. But that was back in 2011 and it has unfortunately faded a great deal.
RS: You seem to like your content creation in English now, anyway.
RB: I am hugely passionate about it. I have always loved digital. I've been sitting at a computer since I was four years old.
RS: Four years old!
RB: Yes. I was never into sport as a child (I was always a lil' chubber), so my parents always encouraged me to be creative. I was always painting and drawing. I remember I would always win the Community Games competitions, but while others in my class would win Gaelic Football and Hurling (Irish sports) medals, mine would be for art. I sadly never carried my artistic talents into my teens, I always doubted myself and never thought I was good enough … but in fairness, who doesn't have a massive inferiority complex as a teen?
RS: What do you think young artists need?
RB: I think encouragement is so important for young people. The world is truly your oyster when you've got a talent and confidence and the support of people around you.
RS: Who's your favourite author?
RB: F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Beautiful and Damned is a special book for me. I am so interested in the world he created surrounding the New York Café Society culture and the damaged elite that it was made up of. I also adore Patti Smith. Just Kids was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I ate that up in two evenings.
RS: I love that book. Tell me what happened when it was time for you to go to college?
RB: I would have loved to study media but my Dad would say "Ireland is a small place, Rooch. It's hard to get a job in media here. I would just be worried that you wouldn't get a job. You love money. Study business. Make your money, secure a good future for yourself." So I did.
RS: But you work in the charity sector now. Why?
RB: Because I have a big love for volunteering. I love to help people. It makes me happy. I hit a bit of a quarter life crisis about a year and a half ago and decided I needed to do something meaningful with my life. I have since been volunteering weekly with two charities and I joined my current organisation last October.
RS: What team are you on there?
RB: Fundraising, so I am always busy trying to promote our charity events to prospective walkers, runners, cyclists etc. I am always trying to think of creative ways to get as many fundraisers on board as possible and stay ahead of the curve in terms of getting a person to fundraise for our charity.
RS: Where do you volunteer exactly?
RB: I am a befriending volunteer with ALONE. ALONE work with older people who are socially isolated, homeless, or living in poverty or crisis and support them to age at home. I visit a wonderful older lady once a week for an hour or two for tea and chats to give her some company. We also chat on the phone a lot during the week. I absolutely love it. I also volunteer with the DSPCA (The Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in the dog rehoming centre. I spend time with the rescue dogs, playing with them, walking them, and cleaning up after them. It is the best.
RS: How else do you spend your free time?
RB: I travel to beat the humdrum. I love the feeling of stepping off a plane into a new place, you can't beat it. I travel as far and as often as I can. It's like a drug!
RS: Favourite destination?
RB: Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand. It's the Thai island where the Full Moon Party takes place, but we actually stayed on the quieter side of the island. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. White sandy beaches, crystal clear waters. The street food was to die for. You'll honestly never have a better Pad Thai! Scooting through jungles is a life experience. The best thing about travelling to Southeast Asia is meeting people from all over the world. We spent 5 days there and it was ultimate bliss, I didn't have one sad moment there.
RS: Does the vast majority of your money go to travel?
RB: Yes. I ensure I leave Dublin two weekends out of four every month. Whether it's over to London to drink expensive cocktails with my best friend Jen, or home to my parents in Kildare to eat rings around myself. It doesn't really matter as long as I break up the norm.
RS: Is capitalism destroying Dublin?
RB: Pretty much. Rents are the highest ever. Every second shop is a donut shop. It's turning the city's creative spaces into hotels. They're honestly turning everything into a fucking hotel. Don't visit because they might turn you and your family into a hotel. I wish I was joking. I still adore Dublin though. There's nowhere really like it.
RS: Where can we find some of your other favourite places in Ireland?
RB: On the west coast. My favourite scent is the blast of the sea air. There's a little town in County Clare called Doolin, and the town itself and its surrounding areas are some of the most unique and beautiful places you will ever see. It feels good to get out to a secluded place in nature where there are no sounds.
RS: City life can be loud and intrusive.
RB: I am very much an outdoor person. I don't like being indoors for too long. Back in March we got a blast of Storm Emma, where the country was under a thick blanket of snowfall (the kind it hadn't seen in decades). We were stuck inside for days. I was cracking up.
RS: The local pubs were still open though!
RB: And I ran out one night I ended up drinking two bottles of wine in the space of three or so hours. Did not end well.
RS: What does failure mean to you?
RB: I failed at a job about midway into my career where I was still quite young and foolish. I was distracted and not giving all I had to give to this particular role. I let myself and my team down, and I will probably never forgive myself for it. I worked with a fantastic bunch of people for an organisation that treated me very well and I let everyone down.
RS: That's unfortunate.
RB: I have since grown professionally and became one hundred times more hardworking. I will never take a backseat in my working life ever again.
RS: When was the last time you felt truly happy? Frustrated?
RB: Truly happy, last weekend when I was surfing in Clare. Frustrated, when I came home from the trip and saw a 3.5 pound increase on the scales due to excessive consumption (I tend over-indulge when I am truly happy).
RS: Do you have any "quirks?"
RB: My friends think I am eccentric, a bit mad. I would agree. But my family are all very eccentric. My mam loves to tell the story of the time she went to a fortune teller a few months after she had married my dad, and the fortune teller lady told my mam that her new husband's family had a madness in them, and her future children would be touched by the madness.
RS: What have you recently done on Twitter?
RB: I had to make a mute list that included the words "Trump" "@realDonaldTrump" "guns", "alt right", etc., so I don't curse my feed every day of the week.
RS: You generally enjoy social media otherwise.
RB: Yes, because I have met so many friends and fantastic people on it (including you)! I actually met one of my closest friends, Leanne, on Twitter.
RS: What's the climate for bloggers in Ireland?
RB: Ireland is very small and there is a lot of negativity surrounding bloggers, so I would genuinely be nervous to blog. Over the next few months I am going to work on perfecting my photographic eye and invest in good editing software. I bought a domain last year but I am still trying to decide what to do with it.
RS: So many possibilities.
RB: I am generally a very confident person but I am afraid to put myself out there. I will most likely use my domain to share my photos. My dad went splits with me on a Nikon D3400 for Christmas last year, so I have been trying to teach myself how to take photos as a hobby.
RS: Any musical hobbies?
RB: I have a deep love for music. There is so much homegrown talent coming out of Ireland nowadays it's hard not to be proud of our little country. I wish my parents had encouraged me to learn a musical instrument when I was younger. It's a talent that I crave to have more than anything.
RS: Damn, me too. I just faked the flute in grade school.
RB: I have finally bitten the bullet and signed up for ukulele lessons in September. I will keep you posted!
/// Follow Rachel's ukelele progress (among other ventures) on @glamgalrach.