Creative Director / Saevil Row
It’s no secret that Rachelle Saevil is an expert on all things design. From her impeccably perfect work space, to her design projects and clients, and don’t even get me started on her shoe collection.
However, what you won’t know until you meet her is that she is an exceptional human being, a beautifully charged business owner, and the fur mumma to one cute-as-pie Pinot.
Rachelle recently spilled the beans on her exciting #careerstory. What it was like growing up in Canada, and why Paris has her heart and changed the course of her life.
This #careerstory has it all. Advice, inspiration and the most noteworthy list of resources that you all need to adopt into your life.
Let’s dive in…
Hi there beauty, so pumped to have you here. Can you start by telling us where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I grew up in a small-ish town about 45 minutes outside of Toronto in Canada. My parents were adamant that I speak French, so from a young age, I was in French immersion schools. I can definitely thank them now, but at the time, I didn’t really enjoy it. Little did I know, I would hugely benefit from having French as a second language when I moved to Paris, but we’ll get to that later on…
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to highschool in my hometown of Milton, Ontario and the school is called Milton District HIgh School – our mascot was a Mustang! High School for me wasn’t awful, but looking back now, I tried really hard to fit in and was a massive people pleaser. I was quite involved in school activities and sports: I did the morning announcements, was on the leadership committee and in year 12 was President of our Athletic Association. I loved being involved in extra activities and connecting with other students and teachers.
Gah, love that about you. So, did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
When I was in year 11, my highschool had just introduced a Graphic Design program. I took this class as an elective and really loved everything about it. We got to code websites, make magazines and it was really hands on, which is probably why I loved it. With that, we have a very close family friend who ran a Graphic Design business, so I did a day in the office with her and that helped solidify my career decision. I always excelled in art and english than any other subject in school, so that was a clear indication of where I’d navigate towards.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
As I mentioned, my dad’s best friend owned her own Design Business for years and offered to have me come in one day to see what it was all about. I learned a few things from her team, got to see some of the things they created and I was instantly hooked. I never dreamed of owning my own business, like our family friend, but getting that first hand experience was invaluable.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I went to College – it was a 2 year condensed program that had 3 years worth of content! I feel like those 2 years were a complete blur because my life was school and assignments, but I thrived off the fast-paced environment and loved the whole experience. As it was very design-driven, our classes ranged from Colour Theory to Layout Design – learning the fundamentals in a very practical way.
We didn’t get to choose the courses as it was all a part of the program, but each one was structured to give us a solid foundation for a career in Advertising + Graphic Design. The program was quite elite and they only accepted 75 people. I believe there were over 2,000 people who applied, so I felt very grateful to have been approved!
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
This is a juicy question!
When I graduated College at 19, I landed a paid internship for a well-known Canadian Women’s Magazine called Chatelaine. My internship turned into a freelance gig and soon enough my role and responsibilities were not only helping design the magazine, but coordinating the Production side of things as well. This meant getting the magazine ready for print, signing off on pages and working hectic hours to see it through. From there, I worked at 5 other magazines in Toronto: from Fashion to Art and Interior Design, to Celebrity Entertainment and even a Kids Magazine. Each one had taught me different skills and work ethic that I embody in my own business today.
When I was working at the Celebrity Entertainment magazine, I met a girl named Michelle – one of the columnists and writers there. We became great friends and quickly realised we had complementary skill sets and decided to start our own digital fashion magazine… before the age of blogs! We named it Front Row Mag and it was an online fashion and beauty magazine. We wrote our own articles and each post had its own unique design, like a page out of a magazine. This was definitely a highlight experience because this opened so many doors for both of us, starting something new and different that hadn’t been done. We attended fashion weeks, did TV segments, hosted events and were featured in other publications. It was a lot of work as we did this as a side hustle and after 5 years we closed up shop. That’s not without incredible experiences and even more incredible memories.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
In 2014 I packed up my life in Toronto and bought a one-way ticket to Paris, France. It was a semi calculated move, but also one I felt deeply called to do, despite the fact I didn’t know anyone, nor did I have a job or a place to live. So, here I was, 28 and leaving behind a ‘safe’ life, along with my family and friends for the unforeseeable future. And the first morning I woke up, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was exactly where I was meant to be.
It was in Paris that I had space and time on my side to truly create the job I wanted and have now. I freelanced for years and had incredible connections from Front Row Mag, so when I decided to start my own business, I started reaching out to those contacts to let them know what I was up to now. Facebook served as a marketing platform for me to share how I could help small businesses with their brands and one client lead to another. From there, it really was about nurturing those relationships and ensuring the service I provided was worth people talking about. My business name Saevil Row is inspired by the London Tailoring District called Saville Row. ‘Saevil’ happens to be my last name, so it’s a fun play on words, which has perfect synergies as I offer bespoke design solutions. When I ended up moving to Sydney in 2016, I brought the business along with me and continued to meet new people, take on new projects and tap into a completely new Country.
Saevil Row now works with clients on an International Level from Paris to Toronto, New York to Sydney and beyond.
What is the hardest part of owing your own business and being the creative director?
Every day is a new challenge! I say that as I laugh to myself, because there’s always SOMETHING that tests me in some sort of way. But if I had to pick one thing, it would be aligning with contractors who have your best interests at heart. I’ve worked with freelance developers to have a website built and they’ve gone MIA in the middle of a project, did a horrible job and were months late on delivering something they said would take a couple weeks. This is hard because I really value integrity in my business and when I say something is going to be delivered at a specific time to a client and it’s not, it jeopardises that. I’m constantly aware of who is involved in my business to avoid red flags like this from happening.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
Literally no two days are ever the same and I wouldn’t want it any other way!
I’m usually at the office before 9am with coffee in hand and will have already taken any calls from International Clients before then, because… time zones. I’ll hop on a quick video chat with our Project Manager Linzi if she’s not in the office, just to go through anything that needs to be addressed and a general status on how we’re tracking for our deadlines.
I try not to check my email until later in the morning so that I can focus on creative and anything that needs my immediate attention.
My work can be anything from approving branding concepts from our designers to designing websites or even reviewing any websites that are in development.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
My mom Sherry is and always will be my greatest inspiration. She was 1 of 10 children, is incredibly driven and has an absolutely phenomenal story of her own. Mom had me when she was 24 and as a single mom at the time, was still going through University and working on the side, all while raising me. She’s my biggest supporter, is the first to share in my wins and has always pushed me to achieve great heights. I love that woman.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Perfect your craft. Spend time learning the foundations and new trends, become impeccably savvy with the design programs and seek inspiration wherever you are. More than anything, embody your creativity and think outside the box, always.
What is your biggest career f*ck up? (Did you fall over in a job interview? Did you accidentally email someone by accident?)
I once had a phone interview for a job earlier on in my career and when they asked what my weakness was, I randomly said “communication”. Which was a total lie and I don’t even know how it came out of my mouth, but it was too late to recover from it. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job, but hey, everything happens for a reason, right? BTW I’m a GREAT communicator.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Favourite Websites: Pinterest hand down. Behance is great, too.
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: Lauren McPhillips of @Thisrenegadelove
- Favourite Podcast: Lori Harder’s “Earn Your Happy”
- Favourite Netflix Series: Currently addicted to Dynasty
- Favourite all time book/s: Christine Hassler’s “20 something, 20 everything” Literally a MUST for any woman in their 20s.
- People: I have the best tribe of supporting business women, who constantly push me and hold me accountable! Gina @uptothebeatfit, Alli @inspireandmove, Kathryn @higherathletes , Anita @Wordfetti, Alicia @harpercollectivemgmt and Pru @theownerscollective. And of course, my incredibly supportive partner Anthony.
- Go-to Coffee order: Almond Cappuccino