Rachael Finley: bored teenager turned fashion designer

Rachael Finley, also known as Steak, is a Florida born, millennial it-girl who started two successful clothing lines from scratch. Teenage, and the recently launched Hot Lava, are both hugely popular online fashion lines that reflect the cartoonish, quirky, and colourful style of Steak herself. She’s married to Blake Anderson, star of the popular Comedy Central show Workaholics, but to attribute her success to her Hollywood connection would be a grand oversimplification.

Rachael ‘Steak’ Finley

The ups and downs of Steak’s life experiences have been documented on her Tumblr blog, Steak Talk, which she started after leaving Florida so that she could keep her family and friends up to date on her adventures. It has become one of the most popular online advice columns. Readers from around the world look to Steak for insight into everything from love to fashion. The bold aesthetic of Steak’s personal style has become a fan favourite on Tumblr fashion blogs.

Rachael’s unapologetic fashion sense stems from her career in modelling, which she began after moving to Los Angeles. She quickly found success as a catalogue model and was booking jobs that other models only dream. Despite her success she hated doing it and wanted to do something that was more creative and hands on.

Hot Lava

Teenage

“The whole thing with being a catalog and fit model is that they are a stepping stone for girls who want to climb their way up the ladder of the modelling world while making an insane amount of money. Being in front of the camera chipped away at my soul and my intellectual pursuits. I just hated every minute of it and I pined for something to work on that would nourish my soul,” explains Steak.

That’s when her agent started sending her to fitting gigs with higher end fashion houses where when a model is hired, she contributes to the creative process of creating garments and  photoshoots.

“High fashion fittings were much different than the standard fitting where you just stand there and are told to keep your mouth shut. Now [fashion fittings] I was encouraged to speak a lot to everyone – to contribute, drape fabrics, come up with ideas. It was such a cool new part of the fashion industry. So creative and happy,” says Steak. “I started phasing out modelling completely. I had been at fashion fittings for about 4 years before I started Teenage. Sitting in on production meetings, picking out fabrics, consulting on trends… it was the best.”

Blake Anderson modelling for Teenage

Steak’s career in the fashion industry was interrupted when she was diagnosed with cancer, and was forced to take a break. Partly out of boredom, and partly out of interest, she began making shirts for her husband to wear on his show. They were looking for something that looked custom made, fit the youthful aesthetic of the show and reflected the millennial angst that came with it. “Unfortunately you can’t just make one shirt. You have to at least make 144… So I sold the rest on my blog and they sold out right away. The rest is 2013 history,” adds Steak.

Since then Teenage has been pumping out new designs, which rarely repeat once they are sold out. Hot Lava, is its sister company, focused on creating clothes for women with the same aesthetic.

“Blake collects what I used to think were the ugliest vintage shirts and now they’re all I think about. He has an eye for things. Don’t get me wrong though some are still ugly. I think that’s the charm too though,” says Steak. “Teenage draws from that completely. Back in the day people were making tees they wanted – not tees that had a 75% profit margin. Back then tee shirts were art pieces and wild looking and expensive to print. That’s us.”

Steak’s success in the fashion industry and as a champion blogger, have recently landed her a new show on VICE’s women’s network Broadly.  Style and Error explore the relationships between fashion and beauty and their social and political implications.

To learn more about Steak, please visit her website.

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