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RACHEL ROGERS IS A CO-OWNER OF STAR CADET; A FORMALLY TRAINED INTERIOR DESIGNER, GRAPHIC DESIGNER, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST, AND RETAIL/RESTAURANT OPERATIONS EXPERT; AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF STAR CADET.

MEET BOSS LADY.

Rachel is like the reluctant hero who didn't expect to be the Chosen One, but took the role and saved the world anyway. Rachel has been on the team since 2014 overseeing The Soda Parlor, and in 2018 she took over for both The Soda Parlor and Star Cadet. Her life is a little hectic, but we're excited to have the opportunity to pause and get to know a little more about our Boss Lady.


AS A BOSS, WHAT'S YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES?

My ultimate goal that I measure all decisions against is: will this decision or job move both my employees and myself toward our individual goals? I have very little delusions that my insanely talented employees will be wanting to work in our somewhat small (but growing) sandbox forever. Having a goal(s)  bigger and outside our business is not only encouraged but if an individual employee discloses those goals, I will go out of my way to provide opportunities that help them get lateral experience if not direct experience that pushes them towards that goal. And in turn I expect the same from my employees when they are working for me to help us achieve our goals of growth and the pursuit of creative projects by working efficiently, thoughtfully, and with an eye to always look for ways to improve our operations, while doing something unique and different.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF BEING YOUR OWN BOSS?

Pro - I get to set my own schedule, be my own boss, and decide when it’s time to hustle and when it time to rest.  

Con - I get to set my own schedule, be my own boss, and decide when it’s time to hustle and when it time to rest.  

Sometimes it is a blessing and a curse. It’s nice to just be told what to do every once in a while but also DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE WORK CULTURE AT STAR CADET?

Mutually Beneficial.  We all move forward together. And if we don’t know how to do something we figure it out together.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SONG?

There are so many but I think if you needed to save me from Vecna, play Everlong by Foo Fighters.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?

Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel

LIFE AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER SOMETIMES MEANS YOU'RE CONSTANTLY WORKING. WHAT EFFORTS DO YOU MAKE TO SEPARATE YOUR WORK FROM YOUR PERSONAL LIFE IN ORDER TO AVOID BURNOUT?

This is a question I get often on social media and when I interact with people on tour and I’d love to say there is really a formula but there isn’t. My work/life balance has evolved as I have aged. When I was in my twenties I honestly never stopped and my work/life balance was non-existent, but I was young, eager and I feel like it was a valid use of that 20-something energy. I am proud of the version of myself in my twenties that accomplished so much at a young age. It was a time to be recklessly ambitious. However, there is a consequence to all action and I have faced heavy burnout in my thirties BUT I do think that was also due to having to deal with A LOT of unfun things circa 2018 to 2021. Around 2018 we had to slow down and restructure because the business model needed to catch-up and we had to reinvest in our infrastructure across the board. And then shortly after recovering from that.....in 2020 there was a tornado and then…… COVID.  So I can’t blame my ambitious 20-something self too much for my current burnout fight as much as I can blame a series of very unfun events. 

I have found in my mid-30s the work toward balance in my life is constant. There are still times to hustle and jump into a level of survival mode, but I work really hard to reset after those intervals of time because my body just can’t take it like it used to. Then there is the whole being married to your business partner aka Olan thing….haha. So honestly, this struggle is very real and a constant conscious effort to switch off after I’ve reached all that I can accomplish for that day or even all that I can mentally/emotionally accomplish for that day (which are two different things).

WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS SINCE STARTING STAR CADET, WHAT DO YOU FEEL MOST PROUD OF?

I am significantly proud of The Soda Parlor. That space, despite losing it to the tornado in 2020, will live on in people's memories. Designing and building them out (twice) was such challenging and fulfilling process. From drawing up the construction documents, acting as the general contractor and ordering men about on the job site… I was in my element 1000%.  And then keeping them open for almost 7 years… INSANE! All between the age of 26 - 33. I learned so much about myself during that time in my life from the experience of opening it all the way to losing it. I gained an unwavering confidence in myself and I know if I set my mind to something and I have the right team around me, we can accomplish anything. 

But presently I am most proud of Star Cadet and the work I have done there since taking over in 2018. I had never planned on running and owning a screen-printing business. I was not prepared to do so when it was suddenly thrust upon me that June summer, but I have found so much joy and satisfaction in it. The pace of Star Cadet is so different than that of The Soda Parlor which I think I needed at this stage of my life. There is more room for creativity and experimentation. And I am really proud of my ability to pull together a collection of products through hiring/directing artist, sourcing new products, and empowering and equipping my employees to produce some really fun products.

WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE QUOTES, AND WHY?

"Rudeness is merely the expression of fear."

- M. Gustave (Grand Budapest Hotel)

It's from my favorite movie but having worked in the service industry to some degree most of my career it is something to keep in mind when people are unkind.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ANYONE, WHO WOULD YOU PICK AS YOUR MENTOR?

I feel like I would choose the one I already had/have: Amelia Carkuff. 

 Amelia was my college thesis mentor and then I worked for her right out of college. When I graduated from college with a degree in Interior Design in the middle of the house market crisis, I quickly had to pivot and do literally anything else. Which is very similar to Amelia's career, as she entered the workforce during the recession in the 80s doing the same thing. She helped me shake the college brain wash of feeling like a failure if I did not do exactly what I went to school for and gave me some very significant tough love at a formidable time in my young career. She encouraged me to look at all experience as a way to gain knowledge no matter how related it was to what I wanted to do, and because of that I went on to take a buying job in Nashville with a large home decor retailer where I spent 4 years getting what I can my degree at Mean Girl University where I learned to harsh ways of the business world, and mass product development and distribution. All while doing my Interior Design side hustle brewing the perfect concoction of experience to design and open a hybrid retail experience like The Soda Parlor and eventually Star Cadet. Without Amelia’s humbling guidance I would not have the career I do now.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FINAL SPACE CHARACTER?

Tribore all the way.

IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE, LIVING OR DEAD, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Banksy or Andy Warhol

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?

If it’s a milkshake - Cookies n Cream 

By itself - Moosetracks

YOU'VE PICKED UP READING A LOT IN THE LAST YEAR, WHAT'S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE BOOK YOU'VE READ SO FAR?

Sarah J Maas' book series: Court of Thorns & Roses, Throne of Glass & Crescent City. (Yes I am 100% THIS person) 

V.E. Schuab - Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Darker Shade of Magic series, Vicious series 

 About to start on Neil Gaiman’s novels. =)))

DESCRIBE YOUR JOB TO A 6 YEAR OLD.

I literally do not know how to talk to kids……I hope this never happens.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR 20-YEAR-OLD SELF?

Biggest advice I would give my 20-something self is be very careful who you let into your home, and inner circle. Do not let your kindness be weaponized against you by those who seek to hijack your identity, time, and sanity. Some people are only in your life to take and in the end will only resent you when your well of kindness is tapped dry. Protect yourself and your inner peace. 

WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR THAT YOU'VE OVERCOME?

As of late I have been suffering from crippling driving anxiety when I get on the interstate. It’s been a gradual process of exposure therapy where I just gotta get out there and drive till I stop freaking out about it cuz……not being able to drive when you're about to open a MOBILE version of your previous business is not super ideal.

HOW DO YOU UNLOCK YOUR CREATIVITY?

My creative cycle is one that is probably tied to my natural manic/depressed brain with a side of ADHD.  GO!GO!GO!GO!GO…..CRASH………..Rest. Repeat. 

I find my creativity comes during most of my manic stages so I sort of just ride them out and get shit done when the restless energy is there. When I was younger I would spend the rest stage hating myself for not being able to hustle like I was in my manic stage, but I’ve come to accept and realize that the rest stage is just as important to my creativity as the productive/manic stage.

WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING A WOMAN IN A PRIMARILY MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY?

The screen printing industry is wild. I came into it with a background in construction, architecture, interior design so I already had a good handle on how to navigate the male-ness of things. But I have to say the screen printing industry is one that could significantly use a women’s touch. Most of my knowledge was acquired secondhand and through good ol’ YouTube University.  The print shops and practices some of the shop owners are doing on that platform are just………down right backwards. I am the firm believer in work smart AND hard. There are these crazy expensive gadgets and pieces of equipment that “increase productivity” in screen printing shop but a simple manual set up can be pushed to a significant level of productivity with better screen burning and detailed documentation of every process.  So as you move forward everything sort of snowballs in a good way where you can just reuse information, copy/paste if you will. What did we do on that shirt…..?  Well let me look it up on our spec sheet. It makes such a huge difference. And I don’t think that sort of stuff is ever shared or talked about. But I digress that this is a gross generalization of the screen-printing industry. After attending the Impressions Convention in Long Beach this Janurary I think I finally sourced competent sources of information to continue our growth and expansion of the business. Which included meeting some badass female print shop owners. Which was so refreshing. =)

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS?

1. Have a good lawyer 

2. Document your processes 

3. Have a good bookkeeper & accountant 

4. Be VERY careful who you do business with 

6. Protect your time and energy 

7. Ask millions of questions till it make sense. 

IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT AND NOTHING WAS OFF-LIMITS, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DREAM YOU'D LIKE TO ACHIEVE FOR STAR CADET?

1. ROQ FIT Automatic Press 

2. Epson SureColor P7000 Commercial Edition 24" Large-Format Inkjet Printer 

3. 2 new desktop PC computers and one iMac Pro for the print shop for the employees 

4. Build some walls and offices so creative employees and managers had a more quiet place to work separated from the general printshop noises 

5. A pick-up truck that can tow the Mondaes trailer

WHAT WOULD YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION BE?

Hmmmmm that’s a good question. I would love to do merchandise for some of my favorite ghost hunting shows like Ghost Adventures, Destination Fear. But I have my heart set on doing a Home Decor collection in the next year or so…..so basically a collab with my interior design self.  =)

THE PAST TWO YEARS HAVE BEEN FULL OF CHALLENGES FOR EVERYONE; TO FIND A LITTLE POSITIVITY IN THE MESS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOU'VE GAINED FROM THE RAPID CHANGES WE'VE EXPERIENCED SINCE 2020?

Oof…..The biggest perspective shift I had over the last two years was really just a general slowing down and finding that marathon pace rather than the sprinting pace I was having to maintain pre-2020.  

That shift in general has really opened up a lot of room for forgiveness within my perfectionist personality. And it also opened up a new level of creativity for me with Star Cadet and the products we are making now.  

That slowing of pace layered with an inner reprieve trickled down to my employees and the culture at Star Cadet. There is just more breathing room. That breathing room allowed us to focus on how the shop operated and we dissected each process and then made improvements and adjustments. That has become a huge part of the culture in the shop in such a positive way because we’ve all felt the positive affects of improving the operation and our space. You just feel it. And we really would not of had that opportunity to restructure on the scale we have been without losing The Soda Parlor. It was a juggernaut to maintain and operate on a 7 day-a-week 12-hour a day basis. That is not to say the last couple of years were easy by any means but I do feel like they were in some ways more creatively fulfilling than in the past.

RECENTLY, YOU CHANGED THE WORK WEEK FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES FROM 5 DAYS TO 4 DAYS; WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU'VE SEEN IN THE BUSINESS AND YOUR EMPLOYEES SINCE THAT TRANSITION?

This sort of feeds into my last answer we all just looked at each other and were like “man Monday’s suck and wouldn’t it be cool if we got 3 day weekends every weekend?”  So the two full time employees took a vote and it was unanimous, no more work on Mondays. Best decision we’ve ever made.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE STAR CADET ITEM CURRENTLY IN THE SHOP?

THIRD EYE BEAR

THIRD EYE BEAR

Do you want something else to get you through this semi-charmed kinda life? Well, this third-eyed bear was designed by Justin Moll. Hand-screen printed on this 4.3 oz, 100% combed ringspun cotton natural with black contrasting 1x1 baby rib bound collar and sleeves ringer tee. 

 Original design by: Justin Moll @dr.wolfenbergen


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