The Chance Train Ride That Changed This Fashion Exec’s Life Forever
Snap’s global head of fashion and beauty on tech, style, and knowing your worth.
In Bustle’s Quick Question, we ask women leaders all about advice — from the best guidance they’ve ever gotten to what they’re still figuring out. Here, Rajni Jacques, global head of fashion and beauty at Snap Inc., tells Bustle about making the move from magazines to tech, why the art of negotiation is non-negotiable, and what constitutes a good leader.
It was a train ride that changed everything for Rajni Jacques.
“Just one day, I was in the city, and I was heading back home,” the global head of fashion and beauty at Snap, Inc., tells Bustle. “I sat on a New Jersey Transit train, and there was a woman sitting in front of me. She had an Essence magazine, and I remember being like, ‘Oh, wow, that cover looks so awesome.’”
Jacques struck up a conversation with the woman, who said that she worked at the magazine. It was the first time Jacques realized that you could actually pursue a career in publishing. “I was still in college,” she recalls. “I was just so fascinated by it. ‘Wow, she works at a magazine for women of color.’”
Ultimately, she exchanged emails with the woman, who suggested that she apply for an internship with a different magazine that was looking for interns at the time. The rest, as they say, is history. “She was the one that really changed my trajectory,” says Jacques, who went on to climb up the corporate ladder at major publishing houses, eventually becoming fashion director at both Allure and Teen Vogue.
But that climb came with its share of setbacks.
“When I came into this career, there weren’t a lot of women and men that looked like me,” she says. “It was very hard to maneuver into spaces. Representation is so key.”
Today, in her current role at Snap Inc., Jacques has the opportunity to be the representation she was always looking for early on in her career. Day-to-day, she’s focused on bringing the growing intersection of fashion, beauty, and tech to the masses, with tools like augmented reality — otherwise known as AR. The tool, accessed through Snap, allows customers to try on digital versions of various products before purchasing them.
“AR shopping makes the products more personable and accessible,” she says. “You could be sitting at home and it’s like ‘wow, I’m trying on Fendi glasses.’ If you were at the mall, would you necessarily go to the Fendi or the Louis Vuitton store? It democratizes it in a way.”
Below, Jacques opens up about her transition from media to tech, the best business advice she’s ever received, and what makes a successful leader.
Take us back to when you decided to leave the publishing world for the tech world. Where were you at at that point in your life and why was that the right move at that time?
I saw where fashion was headed. I had been in editorial for so long. I felt like I had accomplished a lot. I did everything I wanted to do and did things that I never even thought I could do, but managed to do them. It was time for another opportunity, another way of learning, thinking, but still utilizing everything I did and everything I learned in my editorial role. It was just a moment of, “It feels right to do this now.”
When you look back on your journey, what surprises you the most?
That I work in fashion. Just because as I was growing up, I saw fashion but I didn’t really see myself reflected in it. Not because I didn’t want to do it. I just didn’t see it. Also my family around me, no one worked in fashion. No one really worked in the arts. It was very far for me. It wasn’t close to home. So for me, working in fashion, doing fashion, even liking fashion, that was more of a hobby as opposed to a professional career. I still can’t believe I actually worked in media and that I’m working in fashion.
What’s the most valuable business advice you’ve ever received?
Trust your gut. Always trust your gut. There’s an intuition that just lies inside of you where you just know. You just feel it. Once you get that feeling, never go against that. Trust it. I’ve used that a lot, like when getting job interviews or getting tasked to do things. Trusting your gut and knowing what feels right for you is important. Don’t worry too much about what’s trending. What’s good for you?
On the flip side, what’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received?
“Take what they give you.” That’s coming from more of a monetary stance. Just because a job says, “Hey, everyone wants to be here, we’re only going to give you this amount,” don’t settle. Don’t take what they are giving you. They’re actually coming to you, so negotiate yourself. Negotiate your strengths. Do that research. Wherever you’re going job-wise, make sure you know and understand the pros and cons. And then take it from there.
What are you working on right now at Snap?
A big part of my job is helping fashion and beauty brands create shoppable Lenses — what some call filters — in augmented reality on Snapchat. For example, we just launched a new type of shopping Lens with Ulta Beauty yesterday, that lets Snapchatters try on multiple products in the same Lens. Anyone can see important info like pricing, colors, sizes etc., test out how the product looks on them in AR, and then make a purchase right then and there from the app. We have hundreds of fashion and beauty Lenses on Snapchat that anyone can shop from today.
How do you define leadership? What does a good, successful leader look like to you?
Someone who nurtures their team. Someone who knows they don’t have the answers to it all, so you hire people under you who are go-getters. They’re motivated, but also have different interests from you. I love to run a team that is very democratic. Everyone’s giving their ideas because better ideas are created from having a pool of thinkers who are kind of rejiggering it and remixing it in a way. That’s what I see a leader as: someone that gives other people the platform to collaborate with you in order for your whole team — and even you — to succeed.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.