Rajni Jacques’s career may be documented by beautiful imagery—glossy magazine spreads, campaigns, even inspiration from her own street-style photos—but the fashion and creative director doesn't just reflect on her work in finished products. “I love the inner workings, the soup to nuts of building a story,” Jacques says. It’s for this reason that, in addition to the esteemed editing titles she’s held at Teen Vogue, InStyle, Glamour, Nylon, and more, she refers to herself as a storyteller.
Story is the thread that ties together Jacques’s career, starting with her own: During college, Jacques happened to sit across from an Essence editor on the train from New York to New Jersey. She loved art but never aspired to work in fashion media. After striking up a conversation with the editor, she was connected to an opportunity to intern at the now defunct Honey. She took it and eventually would forgo her law-school track and head to Columbia University for her master's in journalism.
“I never woke up in the morning and said ‘this is what I want to be,’ shares the creative whose career in publishing spans two decades. “I’m super happy that I ended up here because I’ve been able to do so many things that have helped me become a better storyteller in whatever medium I’m in.” As of last year, that means bringing her talent and experience to Snapchat as the Global Head of Fashion and Beauty.
With social media democratizing fashion, beauty, and culture, Jacques’s latest role is one of her most exciting. She brings her passion for story and style to possibly her widest audience yet, connecting those with shared interests across the globe. And even encouraging future creatives who look to follow in her footsteps.
"I’ve always felt that change can be good, and so I embrace it."
ON LOVING THE RESEARCH PHASE
My favorite part of my work is the research, digging deep, and finding references and inspiration. I could be researching a time period or something as simple as a color. Why is a specific color called that? How often has it been used? What does it signify? It’s almost like vintage shopping: You don’t necessarily know what you’re going to find but sometimes you’re just surprised by what presents itself. For me, that’s 100% the thing I love the most about my job.
ON TRANSITIONING FROM EDITORIAL TO TECH
When it comes to tech, digital, or social media it’s very much the new frontier of what I was already doing at magazines. I didn’t say, “I’m moving to tech now.” It’s just timing and feeling like I’ve done everything I could have possibly done in that realm. I’ve worked at all the places I’ve wanted to work. I created the stories that were important to me. I worked with so many people I’ve always wanted to work with. And now it’s like “what’s the new challenge?”
In my current role, I’m still creative, I’m still storyboarding, but it’s another medium. And that shift happened way before I started working at Snap because the entire publishing world has changed so much. At the beginning of my career, if you were an editor you edited for one thing—I worked at magazines where there were editors specifically just for denim. But as social media became more prominent and the iPhone became prevalent everything changed. So even when I was in publishing I had to think about the 360-degree aspect of a story: How do we amplify on our website, on our social channels? Now at Snap, I’m still doing the same thing but just in a whole other realm.
ON WELCOMING CHANGE
There are a couple of things that happen with change. Learning happens. And for the most part, especially when it comes to innovation, change better serves the future that comes behind me, my children. So changes in my career don’t scare me. In fact, while I love magazines, social media democratized things and opened the floodgates. It’s allowed someone like me to be in the industry, where there were not many women who looked like me. It’s opened doors. I’ve always felt that change can be good, and so I embrace it.
ON FINDING PERSONAL, AND COMFORTABLE, STYLE
When I first started my career, I would get dressed in trends because I thought I needed to. But the more I moved up, the more I felt like I didn’t have to aesthetically be something that I’m not. I’m very much a jeans-and-tee type of girl or a T-shirt and a nice pair of pants, with a focus on accessories and my lipstick. I learned I’m more comfortable in a casual, minimal look, and therefore more confident and do better work. I don’t mean comfortable as in comfort, but comfortable as in content and happiness with where I am, how I feel, and how I show up. For me, it was more about creating with my mind than creating with my clothing.
"No matter where I end up, I always make sure that everything I do, every story I’m trying to tell, is of inclusiveness because I don’t want anyone to feel left out."