Los Angeles-based clothing designer, Raquel Allegra approaches work and life simultaneously – with a creative, yet focused energy that is endlessly inspiring. I have been a huge fan of her relaxed cuts and beautiful hand-dyed fabrics for years and began incorporating her sought-after styles into my curated collection at DIANI almost 10 years ago.
After meeting Raquel earlier this year during a buying trip, I was beyond excited for the opportunity to collaborate with this creative force and inspiring woman for the 17th addition of my Pillow Talk series. At a recent visit to her lovely Los Angeles store, Raquel and I enjoyed an afternoon shopping her fall collection and chatting about everything, from her childhood dreams and inspirational adolescent attire to what fuels her creativity and the morning ritual that doesn’t involve any clothing at all.
And, I’m thrilled that Raquel will be joining me at DIANI on Friday, August 16th, 12pm – 7pm. She will be styling us all in her newest Pre-Spring 2020 collection which will be unveiled that day. And, let me tell you, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to be styled by Raquel…she’s a master at her craft! I hope to see you there and introduce you to her.
When you were in school, what was your favorite subject and what did you want to “grow up” to be?
The traditional school system was NOT geared for me when I was a kid. I was a daydreamer. I whisper-sang Beatles tunes to myself during class. I dreaded kick-ball games because the team captains always picked me last. Margaret Mead was my hero and I wanted to be an anthropologist like her when I grew up. Uncovering ancient civilizations or giant skeletons of prehistoric creatures was a big YES for little me.
What contributed to you becoming the businesswoman that you are today?
When I was 12 or so I swore that I’d be super cute as soon as my acne went away, and my hair grew back out (from the boy cut my mom had inflicted upon me!), and lastly when my braces came off. If only it had been that simple! What I did end up with was a deep sense of longing. To be clever, to be pretty, to have nice things, to truly be able to express the inner ‘me’ on the outside. I literally recall making a promise to myself that someday I would have a big closet full of all the cool shoes and clothes that my little dreamer heart desired.
Which entrepreneurs do you admire?
I remember paying attention to the older girls a lot. Their hair, feathered or asymmetrical. I so wanted to be cool like them. Sometimes I got hand-me-down GUESS jeans from my dad’s boss’s daughter. But otherwise I had a very spare closet. I wore my Madonna ‘Like a Virgin’ tour tee as often as possible. It was oversized when I was 10 but was actually the fit inspiration for the ‘Perfect Tee’ in my collection 30 years later. Honestly, more often than not, my personal affinities and life experiences inform my design process.
What was your inspiration behind starting the clothing brand Raquel Allegra?
Over the years, I’ve lived and learned, and worked diligently to know my truest self. One of my deeper understandings is that the heart of my creativity is my desire to self soothe, and the driving SOURCE, (not force!), is really still that adolescent longing from my childhood. When I create a collection, I begin with the hand-feel of the fabrics. The softer, the better. I focus on creating soft tailored garments that aren’t binding. I want to feel FREE in my clothing and not restricted. And THAT feeling is what I LIVE FOR. That cozy, everything is alright, I’m wearing a ‘hug’, and life is sweet, feeling. And this is what I hope RA wearers get to feel as well.
Black Corduroy Work Shirt, Call to Order 877.342.6474
What has been your favorite part about creating a business?
In my day-to-day work life the most satisfying part of my job is creating with my team. They are my happy place. I believe it’s essential to surround oneself with passionate clever people who want to be part of something truly successful. Our work environment is focused, thoughtful, supportive, lighthearted and fun. I share a desk with our design director, Flavie Webster, who is my soul sister! I never knew creating with someone could be so inspiring and deeply satisfying. It’s been important for me to create with women who are in their 40’s, like me. Our fashion references are similar, or complimentary and we collectively understand the value of working together, without ego, in a supportive role with one another. We FLOW together.
What’s the most challenging part of your professional life?
Answering questions like these!
What do you think is the single most important ingredient to success?
Find the connection to love in what you do.
How do you try to manage your work/life balance?
There is no here and there, it’s all one.
Fog Blue Pebble Satin Jumper, Call to Order 877.342.6474
What do you see yourself doing next to express yourself professionally?
Shhh, it’s in the works, I promise I’ll share it soon.
How do you manage the fear and doubt that inevitably creeps in when you’re paving a less trodden path?
I have always listened to my heart. As overstated as that might be, I don’t know how to do it any other way. If I listen to my heart, nothing can go wrong in the big picture. Some mistakes, here and there. But the big decisions, are with my heart and people I trust.
What have you been most afraid of trying in your career, but you did it anyway?
Singing in a band.
Was there any opportunity that you had in your life that you didn’t take?
Any sleep rituals that you use to help quiet the mind after a long day?
My pillows. My pillows are everything: Sachi Organics millet hulls pillows https://www.sachiorganics.com/collections/support-pillows/products/rejuvenation-pillow-2
And my amazing Raquel Allegra silk charmeuse tie die pillow cases and eyeshade! https://raquelallegra.com/collections/shop-exclusives/products/golden-sun-tie-dye-charmeuse-pillowcase
What’s the biggest gift you give yourself to recharge?
Yoga, breath, friendship, chocolate, and baby goats.
What’s your favorite indulgence?
Taking a swim when I wake up, when the world is still sleeping.
(left) Oatmeal Two Tone Boxy Cardigan, Call to Order 877.342.6474
What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?
Check on my garden in the buff. If it needs water, I’ll water it. I always wonder if the neighbor can see me, but I don’t necessarily care anyway.
What’s the last thing you do before bed?
Turn off my computer.
How do you make your bedroom a sacred space?
My bedroom is a sleeping loft, I don’t really have much. A bed, a table. I keep it very spare. My home is my sacred space + my garden. It’s filled with me!
Thank you, Raquel for your partnership and generosity. Spending time with you always inspires me and your zest for all the possibilities in life is so contagious. I’m looking forward to hosting you at DIANI on Friday and introducing you to the Santa Barbara community.