Here for Her: Rachel Ettinger
Anyone else still sitting at home applauding after Oprah's Golden Globes speech Sunday night? I felt as if the entire broadcast had such a greater purpose this year and displayed the power of what can happen when women (and men!) rally together. Of course, throughout the entire broadcast me and my friend, Rachel Ettinger, were texting non-stop back and forth about what we were seeing- there was so much to discuss!! I think Eva Longoria said it best though when she said "This is not a moment, it's a movement" as if to recognize that although Sunday was a great event and statement, it truly is what happens little by little every day that will ultimately make the difference. And guys, my friend Rachel, she is making a difference!
Rachel is a morning show host on 97.5 Virgin Radio in London but over the last 6 months she has also embarked on her own initiative, Here for Her. Her goal with Here for Her is to end awkwardness and stigma surrounding woman's health issues while also supporting other local women's health initiatives through the sale of the Here for Her clothing line. I have been so thrilled to watch this passion project take off for her and can't wait to see where she takes it! Though Rachel and I only met last year we instantly felt as if we had know each other forever and have been sounding boards for one another throughout our new creative journeys. I can't wait for you to get to know more about Rach and Here for Her today! Take it away Rachel!
What did you think you would do when you were growing up? Did you always see yourself working in radio?
Haha-never in a million years! I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I volunteered at several clinics in high school, focused on the sciences and went to St. Francis Xavier University on scholarship in biology. It wasn’t until second year when I realized that although I love animals, (I’m a competitive horse back rider) I could not picture myself having the lifestyle as a vet. At the same time I was realizing this, I had a wonderful Intro to Business prof that became an important mentor of mine. He suggested that I continue with my BSc. but also take business courses as my electives and get a BBA as well! So I went on to get 2 degrees in 5 years and worked one summer as a promotions girl at a radio station. That’s where it all began! I was offered the morning show position when the host left- I accepted the position 2 years ago and never looked back! I find at high school when you’re “smart” you can get pushed into the sciences, when really I LOVED drama and did a-lot of radio/tv work in university for fun!
What inspired you to start Here for Her?
It really started with my mom Sharon ( a nurse) who educated/ helped young women her entire career and was always there to answer my questions (and my friend's questions) in a supportive and non-judgemental way growing up. At university, I lived with 6 girls and realized that many of my educated, confident friends did not KNOW certain things about women’s health and had questions and started to ask my mom! Not everyone grew up the way I did, and it’s still (in general) not acceptable to discuss periods, vaginas and women’s health issues in public. I’ve been in media for 3 years now and I’ve realized that I can use my platform for awareness and change. I actually had an issue last year with my vagina and it took 2 months of walk-in clinics and improper diagnosis (I didn't have a family doctor so it was a bit of a process) and finally a visit to emergency to figure out what was wrong. I was shocked that I felt embarrassed to discuss what was going on, even though it was something out of my control. It was not my fault! Women’s health issues are important and REAL. Whether it’s about your period, your body image, birth control, fertility or anything else vagina related, I hope that we can get to a place where we are all able to discuss openly and proudly.
What have you learned about yourself since taking on this project?
Oh wow, where do I begin! I had the idea for Here for Her for over a year now, but I decided to actually start the movement when I was going through a challenging time in my life. Here for Her became an outlet for me- I basically put all of my emotions and passion into making my ideas come to life. I have learnt that everything happens for a reason and when you channel your efforts into something that you’re passionate about, it is extremely rewarding. I’ve learnt that passion and hard work always pays off in the end, even if it takes awhile. It’s okay to doubt yourself and be nervous, but if you don’t ever take a chance, you’ll never succeed. I’ve learnt that all it takes is one person to be honest and vulnerable with an issue and speak out about their truth in order to help so many others to have the courage to do the same. A big lesson for me was realizing that in order to accept and love someone else, you have to accept and love yourself. Life is too short to care about what others will think and when you finally realize who you are and embrace the authenticity, good things will happen. Lastly, I’ve learnt that when you're happy with yourself, you attract people like you and it’s SO KEY to be surrounded by intelligent, supportive & like-minded individuals.
What advice would you have for someone that has an idea or passion project in their head but is scared to take the leap?
This was me just six months ago! It’s absolutely scary and terrifying and what if people don’t agree with your ideas? You’ll never know until you try (cheesy but true) and I figured at the time, I needed something positive to focus my efforts on. Sometimes passion projects end up being something that actually made you learn SO much about yourself during the process. Sometimes a passion project becomes SO MUCH MORE than you ever imagined and you’ll never know unless you try! I’ve had a few people comment on the PERIOD sweater saying it’s too “gross” or “too out there”. Sure, it’s a statement, but anyone who feels that women’s health issues shouldn’t be discussed in public is someone I DO NOT CARE ABOUT. Trust your passion and believe in yourself and work your ass off- you’ll be surprised about the amount of people that will believe in you as long as you believe in your ideas.
What are you most proud of accomplishing this year and what do you hope to accomplish with over the next year?
I think I’m most proud of starting Here for Her in July and selling over 100 items by December- just a few months later! It’s not even pride- I just started the movement- I’m so grateful and excited that so many people are already invested and feel the same way. The time is NOW to speak up and change how we discuss women’s health issues in public. I receive many direct messages every week from women describing a specific health issue they’re experiencing and I cannot WAIT to post about it on Instagram to get these discussions going! Once the awareness and discussions are happening, then we can educate and move towards making sustainable change. Here for Her is a platform to not only continue the conversation about women’s health in a fun, safe and non-judgemental environment, but also to provide education from professionals on certain issues, which is my plan for 2018 (physiotherapists, physicians, naturopaths, dieticians, etc). I’m creating an environment where women feel comfortable speaking out and taking control of their health issues and that empowerment will hopefully lead them to feel more confident in other areas of their lives. Having the discussions and providing education on certain issues is just the first step to making sustainable change, such as providing free menstrual products in public bathrooms just like toilet paper (it should be a necessity) or ensuring that women don’t have to make the choice between food or tampons. Along with new clothing items, Here for Her will be hosting a few women’s events/workshops in London this year. Here for Her is also dedicated to helping women in London who cannot afford basic necessities, such as feminine hygiene products and other health products. A goal is to partner with other women’s shelters to plan events for awareness and donations. Of course, as we sell more clothing, we will be making donations to women’s health initiatives chosen by followers on Instagram. There are also a few clothing collaborations in the works, as well as a podcast! Ultimately, I hope that people can follow Here for Her to feel empowered about their health and ultimately themselves, in order to change how we speak about women’s health in public and make a difference for women all over the world. I’m sure as I grow up and continue to evolve as a woman, Here for Her will evolve as well and continue to empower women and support each other as a collective.
Thank you so much Rach! Can't wait to see where things go this year! Listen to Rachel on 97.5 Virgin Radio 5:30-9am weekday mornings and be sure to check out Here for Her on Instagram (@shophereforher) and on her website (shophereforher.ca- you may just recognize one of the models...). Remember that with the sale of each clothing item a portion of the proceeds goes back into women's health initiatives so SHOP AWAY!