-Guest blog by Stephanie Tresner, Senior Marketing Manager for Nelson Books.
Rachel Hollis. These days we all know the name, but just a few years ago, she was one mommy blogger in a small corner of the internet.
“Turns out, the most beautiful things in my life were never on my to-do list.”
The meteoric trajectory that has recently hurtled Hollis into the social consciousness began back in 2004 when she launched her event planning company, Chic Events. Over the course of a decade, Rachel carefully built a business that eventually saw her serving a clientele of A list celebrities in the glitz and the grime of Hollywood. The experiences Hollis had in Hollywood – both the glamorous and the troubling – inspired her first book, the self-published Party Girl.
Hollis began writing in 2013 when she launched her blog, The Chic Site. Her posts featured content on homemaking and event planning and eventually grew into The Chic Media company, which, in addition to blogging, set Rachel up as an influencer and brand ambassador. Rachel and her husband Dave then went on to found The Hollis Co. in 2014. Dave Hollis, who at the time worked as the VP of Licensing for the Walt Disney Company, left his corporate job to serve as the CEO of their brand-new family business.
“Embracing chaos might be the journey we take to finding peace.”
Rachel was motivated to begin writing after she set her Thanksgiving turkey on fire in 2013. Martha Stewart’s recipe proved to be beyond Rachel’s culinary skills. However, when Hollis searched for a lifestyle voice on the internet that was both inspiring and achievable, she came up empty. So, Rachel started writing. She wrote about her own attempts and failures and what worked for her. And, as she shared her experiences, she found that others could relate to her less-than-perfect but always-determined style.
Over the past five years, Rachel’s combination of style, humor, and determination has steadily gained attention, and by the time Nelson Books announced the publication of Girl, Wash Your Face, The Chic Site’s following on Instagram had reached 47,300 followers with 705,800 likes on the corresponding Facebook page.
Girl, Wash Your Face, which was published by Nelson Books in February of 2018, was Hollis’ non-fiction debut. It was a steady seller, but popularity skyrocketed around the four-month mark as word-of-mouth began to spread. Within six months, Girl, Wash Your Face had sold over a million units and has now sold over 2.5 million, with listings as the #1 bestseller on the New York Times list more than 20 times.
Now, in the wake of her outrageous success as a non-fiction author, Hollis is now one of the most sought-after female-empowerment speakers in the country, and her following on social has been growing been faster than click “like.”
So, what’s the secret to Hollis’ success? A clear brand. A solid foundation built over more than a decade. And, of course, word-of-mouth. Rachel’s focus on female empowerment and entrepreneurship found a voracious audience with multi-level marketers, who by very nature network and promote products about which they are passionate. Her message connected with brand ambassadors, who went on to promote Hollis, not for profit, but because they had experienced genuine transformation after implementing her advice.
If there’s one thing that this generation craves, its authenticity – and Rachel Hollis oozes a realness that appeals to millennials and Gen-Zers alike. Her brand, messy-but-chic, promises that you can be your best self while also being your authentic self – and nothing encapsulates that brand more the infamous bikini picture that first thrust Rachel into the social consciousness. A mother in her 30s with stretch marks and flab had the audacity to post a carefree photo of herself in a two-piece. Rachel’s exposed stomach simultaneously says,
“I love myself the way I am” and “I worked hard to get here.” That flab is the result of both motherhood and of a commitment to health and fitness, both of which require tremendous strength and determination.
Rachel displays the stretchmarks because she refuses to be ashamed of them, and the combination of fearlessness and fortitude that she exemplifies is exactly what inspires women everywhere. Rachel challenges her audience to take ownership of their lives and choices. Stop blaming others for your problems or expecting an external factor to change what you don’t like about yourself. Stop making excuses. Honestly, take responsibility for your bad decisions and face off with the things in your life that fill you with shame or discontent. Commit to working at them until you can embrace all of who you are – even the parts that will never be perfect.
Over and over again, this is the theme of Girl, Wash Your Face. Rachel shares how her relationship with her husband Dave went from dysfunctional and destructive to a rom-com dream. She shares how she fought for freedom in her relationship with food. She discusses her and Dave’s journey to create a healthy sex-life within their marriage. She talks about the experience of self-publishing a successful book when everyone told her it was un-marketable. What do all of those things have in common? The fearless honesty of admitting that something has to change, and the complete refusal to give up until it does.
Rachel challenges women to be unashamedly authentic, and it’s that very authenticity that rings true when everyday women are gushing to one another about this book that made them believe that they, too, can be a girl boss.
Rachel has re-set the bar on what that term means. One of the many factors in the Hollis-success-formula is the prolific nature of her content. Rachel has a blog. A YouTube channel. A media company. She kills her social media game and sends out weekly newsletters. She wrote four books before Girl, Wash Your Face started breaking records and has only added more lines to her resume since.
“You don’t grow or change or become who you want to be by sitting in one place. You become that person when once you take a leap of faith, and you’re flying through the air, and you have no idea if you have a parachute, how you’re gonna land, and you don’t know what to do. That’s how you become who you were meant to be… so jump.”
In 2018 she took off on a live event tour, called RISE, which served as a personal development conference for women. Then she made a documentary, “Made for More,” about the experience. She is touring again this year with RISE, challenging women once again to own their past and take control of their future. She doesn’t stop there, though; The Hollis Co. offers a “Start Today” journaling tool to help women take the next steps towards living their best life. On top of that, Rachel is now also offering two monthly digital coaching sessions – one that focuses on personal life, and one centered on business. Rachel, it seems, does it all – and there is something for everyone.
It’s not just ordinary women talking about Rachel, though. Her popularity has put Girl, Wash Your Face in the hands of celebrities such as Drew Barrymore and Reese Witherspoon, who both enthusiastically shared the book on their social media – even Reese Witherspoon, a “girl boss” in her own right, declared it to be “so inspiring” in her Instagram story.
Rachel Hollis is far from done, though. The hype surrounding Girl, Wash Your Face has attracted so much attention that both the New York Times and Time magazine plan to feature her in a day-in-the-life story after shadowing the author for a day.
Rachel has signed on for two more books with Nelson following the release of Girl, Stop Apologizing, and husband and co-founder of The Hollis Co, Dave, has a message to share, too. Mr. Hollis has signed a book deal with Nelson to write a complimentary book from the male perspective. His book, like Girl, Wash Your Face, will share common lies men believe and how he has overcome those lies in his own life.
In the meantime, Girl, Stop Apologizing is available at your favorite bookshop or online book shopping spot. You can also check out Rachel’s podcast RISE and Rachel and Dave’s podcast RISE Together wherever you listen to podcasts.