Rachel Whitaker - Inspiring Woman July 2024

Who did you find inspiring in your childhood and who do you find inspiring now? Who would you say your role model is? How do you think those people have influenced you?

I know it sounds cliched, but my Mum is my inspiration, every day. I’m the youngest of four and she somehow managed to pull off the ultimate balance of making us feel like we were her main priority, whilst working and squeezing in time for the things she enjoyed too. My Mum and Dad owned a Bed and Breakfast in Wells for a few years, and she would cook the breakfasts for the guests in the morning and then walk down the road to the primary school and put her Teacher hat on for the day. It’s definitely where I get my ‘juggling life’ abilities from.

Sadly, my Mum passed away in December 2021 after a brave battle with a degenerative condition. I have a bracelet she gave me when I was going through a really difficult time in my life; inside are the words ‘Whenever you feel overwhelmed, remember whose daughter you are and straighten your crown.’ Before she died, she knew I was about to begin writing for a local magazine and I hope that what I do now would make her proud. I think we all need a strong figure that inspires us everyday to continue to be the best version of ourselves.

Teaching, photography, writing and maintaining a strong social presence, you’re always on the go! How do you balance the demands of work life with home life, travelling and raising two lovely children?

In all honesty I don’t watch a lot of television, so once the household jobs are done and the kids are settled, I can focus on e-mails, social media content, writing, or schoolwork.

There are sometimes pinch point moments; perhaps one of the children falls ill, or I’ve underestimated the time I have vs the jobs that need to be done. I’ve learnt to schedule posts and create drafts that are ready to go, and I’ve adapted my approach to cut corners where I can; having a list which starts with high priority down to low priority really helps.

Finally, building a strong community is fundamental; support with childcare, help when things go wrong, or you need some advice. I firmly believe that if you find ‘your people’, then everything else will fall into place.

Can you tell us a bit more about your journey with writing. How did you make the transition in your career and what prompted that choice? I.e. was it something you always wanted to do?

After my Textiles degree I studied at the London College of Fashion and completed a PGC in Fashion and Lifestyle Journalism. I always loved writing, and this felt like it would be a natural angle following my degree, but the fashion industry is pretty brutal and I soon decided fashion writing in London wasn’t for me. After a few different jobs and backpacking the world for a year, I retrained as a teacher. I have been working in a local high school as a Textiles and Art teacher for around 13 years now and love my job but a few years ago I felt that I wasn’t getting the time to be creative for me.

I came up with the idea with a friend to blog about my adventures in Norfolk and incorporate my love of writing and photography through Instagram. I was incredibly lucky after only a couple of months of blogging to be approached by North Norfolk Living magazine to be their children’s writer and have been with them two and a half years now.

What advice would you give to other women looking to branch into a more creative outlet such as writing and photography?

Start small. By that I mean put aside a small amount of time and use the tools you have available to you. If you are a writer, start off with journals or digital / social media platforms, if you want to photograph, go out with your phone to begin with.

A greetings card company approached me to purchase a photo I had taken on an iphone, so you don’t always need the latest technology to get good results.

As your confidence and experience grows, you can increase your time commitment and invest where appropriate.

You mentioned before that you work as a teacher, a role that has quite a creative aspect in textiles and as we can see from your Instagram, you’re a very talented photographer – what influenced you to begin photography, were you always interested or was it a passion that developed with your brand?

I’ve always loved taking photographs. My friends will all tell you that I’m the one constantly clicking away.

As my Instagram has grown, so has my passion for capturing the very best of North Norfolk, and my photography has grown organically alongside it.

Favourite place you’ve been to – can you tell us a memory or moment that makes this trip meaningful for you?

My favourite place is Wells-next-the-sea; I grew up there and we have a family beach hut my dad bought when I was a child. It’s the place that holds many special memories of family gatherings. Coastal experiences always hold firm in the memory bank, and my top 3 places to visit at sunset are: Cley beach for swimming, Holkham bay for walking and Stiffkey marshes for creek jumping.  Just ensure you check the tide times to stay safe.

What’s one goal on your bucket list you’re yet to achieve?

I’d love to write a book one day, maybe a type of travel guide for North Norfolk, that would be an amazing thing to achieve.