Digital Strategist and Homesteader
Toronto to British Columbia, Canada
I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Rachel Segal. Rachel is a digital strategist, and has spent more than a decade working with some of the largest brands in the world on their social media and content marketing programs.
In 2012, burnt out with the pace of city life, Rachel and her partner Scott moved to a remote island in British Columbia. The move required courage and a willingness to do things differently than the rest of their cohort. Nowadays, remote work is much more normalized, but back then navigating cultural expectations around work was still a relatively new frontier. However, Rachel refused to let her desire for a remote homestead conflict with her digital career. She had to rely on her on her singular vision and work ethic to make working from home work for her, before others were able to accept the legitimacy of her decision. Judgements and confused remarks from colleagues were small obstacles compared with the task Rachel and Scott had in mind: starting life anew as homesteaders.
Moving to the country was a revelation - they were instantly lighter, happier and really enjoyed the pace of balancing remote freelance work with raising animals and growing food. When the option presented itself to buy ten acres of raw land in an area they loved, they jumped at the opportunity to plant permanent roots and build their forever home. However, finances required a slow building process. The couple and their two young children lived and worked out of a canvas tent for three years before their home was ready to move in. Not for the faint of heart, Rachel braved tent-living while pregnant, and through multiple Canadian winters.
While it wasn’t easy or comfortable, they look back at their journey and appreciate how time really added to the overall functionality and consideration of their homestead. In addition to raising goats, chickens and growing food, Rachel has built a thriving creative business. With patience, effort and vision - Rachel has been able to realize her homesteading dreams, while maintaining a fulfilling career in digital strategy.
"I was fascinated by how in the first 2 to 3 years [after our move] how quickly you see people differently because you see how they see you differently. I would have some people look at what we were doing and you lose some sort of status with them that you didn’t know you were fighting for to begin with, and then you’d have other people say “that’s the coolest thing tell me more.”
Rachel believes that living on the farm is what helped her manage the high pressure and stress from her digital career. In between calls she tends to the garden and animals, finding respite from mental labor through physical chores. In 2014, Rachel gave a Ted Talk where she shares her journey from struggling workaholic to thriving homesteader/mom/career woman. Building her farmstead allowed her to create the balance and peace she needed in her every day life. And even though at face value, her life on a remote island while managing the digital campaigns of some of the largest brands in the world may seem like a contradiction, for Rachel it is a revelation. It is a lifestyle that allows her to feel truly aligned with herself, her ambitions, her family, and the natural world.
The world primes us for short-term thinking, short attention-spans, and prioritizing convenience. It is inspiring to hear the story of Rachel and her partner forgoing creature comforts for years in order to build their dream legacy home on their land. We often don’t tell the stories of the sacrifices required to perform such an undertaking, but they are vital to consider before embarking on such an ambitious project.
Rachel's story is inspiring, and honest. In our conversation she shares what it was like to make such a dramatic transition in her life, and how she navigated work, networking, and learning on the go as a first-time farmer. The challenges she navigated may seem unique in this day and age, but Rachel has found lasting satisfaction in building a life that allows her pick out the best parts of modern life and old-world self-sufficiency.
This is a story about making your work work for you, long-term thinking, and marrying the best of old-world and modern living.
• Ted Talk