Rachel Brownstein is a no-nonsense public speaker and actor; busting myths about the adult film industry and sex work. She talks openly about her experience working in the sex industry in the hope of educating people about the reality of sex work and dispelling many of the misconceptions people have. She also has her own vegan cooking channel on YouTube – Auntie Rachel’s Chaotic Kitchen. In October 2020, after spending most of her lockdown whipping up vegan creations in the kitchen, Rachel launched her channel with the aim of putting fun and experimentation into vegan cooking and is aimed at everyone; from committed vegans to meat-eaters wanting to try some plant-based meal options. The channel is a no-holds-barred cooking experience and Rachel includes her mistakes as well as her successes. By explaining WHY she is adding something to the dish, Rachel hopes to remove some of the mystery surrounding vegan cooking, making it more accessible to everyone. Rachel is single and lives in Leeds, England.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Rachel to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:
When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?
In middle school, I created some piggy banks/pen holders with the intent of selling them to classmates
How did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?
Getting worked to the bone in low-paying jobs and feeling very stuck in a rut. I was also, unknowingly, living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hypermobile type); a connective tissue disorder that affects all of my soft tissue, particularly my joints. Pain and fatigue are the most detrimental symptoms and cause a lot of disruptions to work.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
Building a career that allows autonomy and flexibility, especially for when I’m having a pain flare-up. Having a disposable income is greatly desirable, but it’s more about having the freedom and opportunity that money brings than having the money itself. Creating ideas and systems is a surprising boon; I am beyond fed up of being told “because I said so/that’s how it’s always been” when questioning practices that are needlessly time-consuming.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.
Intense. Everything I do is done solely on my own; creating talks, shooting and editing content, etc; so if I have a bad day for whatever reason, it puts me on the back foot timewise. Conversely; knowing that I’ve made everything happen for myself is intensely rewarding and fulfilling.
What were your top three motivations for starting your business?
Earning an income by doing something that fires up my creative leanings. A desire to dispel myths surrounding sex work. COVID-19! (I realised the importance of having a revenue stream that doesn’t rely on needing to leave my house).
What do you put your success down to?
Belligerence, and being comfortable with myself. In my cooking shows; I include my failures as I feel it makes cooking more approachable. It would be easy (and better for my ego!) to pass my dishes and myself off as highly polished and perfect, but I strongly believe that people are connecting to the human on their screen, and are learning alongside me. Many of my subscribers are fans who have followed me since my adult film days, and it’s truly heartening to get comments telling me that I’m now teaching them something radically different.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Bravery; it takes a lot to step outside of the comfort/stability of employment. Support network; doing everything single-handedly can be gruelling and demoralising in many ways, so having loved ones and connections around who will lift you up on your rough days can be really beneficial. Kindness to yourself; remember that mistakes are going to happen and some challenges will be insurmountable, so it’s crucial that we pay attention to the way we talk to and treat ourselves. My imposter syndrome says truly vile things to me when I mess something up or if I don’t see a decent increase in viewing figures, but giving in to the negative self-talk would, in the long-term, lead to even greater distress. A tip that I find helpful; give that negative talk a silly/innocuous name. I call mine Edna, and it can lessen the intensity to say; “That’s not helpful, Edna, go away.” (but usually with much more swearing).
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?
Financial challenges are always tricky to overcome. The old adage of “gotta spend it to earn it” is accurate, but you also have to earn it to spend it in the first place! For the time being, making small investments whenever I can is keeping everything at a manageable level.
Being time and energy-poor are a frequent hurdle at the moment. Dealing with long-COVID on top of everything else means I’m often completely drained. I’ve accepted that I have to pace myself if I want to recover fully. Burning myself out physically and mentally is neither productive nor sustainable.
Stepping outside of other people’s boxes. I think this is the biggest one for me. There are those who hate that I’ve moved past my work as an adult film star, and I’m constantly pestered about it. It kept me small for years (for example; “I’ve torpedoed my chances at mainstream acting so I’ll just keep my head down.”), but I had the realisation that it was better to try and fail than always wonder what could have been.
Does the loneliness of the entrepreneur really exist?
It does, but I’ve always been very comfortable on my own so I don’t feel it as intensely as I imagine some might.
As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?
Both sides of my business are still relatively new to me, so I’m still learning the ropes. I want to always act with integrity though, and treat people with compassion and respect. I’ve suffered at the hands of terrible managers over the years; now I’ll use that to shape how not to operate.