With wet eyelashes, Reachel walked out of her bedroom and found a stranger sitting in her apartment. The guy casually resting his elbow on the couch was Andrew, a friend of her roommates.
Reachel, clad in sweatpants and a t-shirt, had just ended a difficult phone call—and a relationship. “I was in church and felt the strongest prompting to break up with my boyfriend. I mustered my courage, rushed home, and made the call,” she says.
Her introduction to Andrew, although a surprise, wasn’t happenstance. “My roommates had told him, ‘You’ve got to come over and meet our new roommate,’” Reachel recalls. “It was pretty well orchestrated.”
The two hit it off and that conversation turned into an example of one door closing and another opening. “My immediate thought was, ‘This is why I had that prompting,’” she says.
Andrew left the apartment equally enamored, calling his mom on the drive home to announce that he had just met her future daughter-in-law. “For someone who takes months to decide which pair of church shoes to buy, that was significant,” Reachel says of her husband.
This was a pivotal time for Reachel: she was one week away from starting the BYU MBA program and, unbeknownst to her, five months away from marrying the man on the couch.
In the decade since, Reachel Bagley has navigated the ins and outs of the business world and constructed a styling career focused on making people feel prettier. And as she and Andrew struggled with infertility, Reachel learned that building a family—like any other worthwhile goal—takes time, balance, and a dose of determination.
Fashioning A Family
In the years following her Marriott School education, Reachel split her time between Mesa, Arizona, where Andrew was working in advertising, and Orem, where she was vice president of interactive marketing for Agilix, a small educational-software company. But racking up the frequent-flyer miles was taking its toll.
After struggling to start a family for five years, Reachel shifted her attention. “I realized if I didn’t make having a family a priority, the adoption paperwork wasn’t going to get filled out, our children were never going to be found, and I was going to be empty,” she recalls.
Reachel and Andrew decided she would retire from the business world so they could focus on searching for their kids. In June 2009 they crafted an adoption profile for LDS Family Services, explaining they’d set aside thirteen of their wedding invitations for their future kids and mentioning other ways they’d prepared and hoped for children.
Less than three months later they were selected.
The trip to California for the birth of their daughter was full of jitters and excitement. “When we met Coco, we were immediately enamored; she was so perfect and little,” Reachel says.
Three days after exiting the hospital with a daughter in her arms, Reachel found herself back in the hospitalthis time as a patient. At first she was diagnosed with bird flu, but after a day of tests the doctors realized Reachel was suffering from an ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. A baby had been growing in her fallopian tube until it burst, causing severe internal bleeding.
“You have fifteen minutes to get into surgery,” the doctor ordered.
Reachel starting panicking. “My main concern was that I hadn’t been sealed to my baby,” she recalls. “I needed to get home alive so that Andrew and I could take Coco to the temple.”
The surgery was successful, leaving Reachel with a six-inch scar and the determination to make her family permanent. Two years later, after wading through legal issues with the adoption, the Bagleys were dressed in white.
“The sealer said that before we came to earth there was an affinity between certain spirits, and a child may choose a family as a result. The affinity is the same whether someone is sent to your family biologically or through adoption,” she says. “Coco is absolutely my daughter—there’s no doubt in my mind.”
Not long after returning from California, Reachel and Andrew were adjusting to life with five-month-old Coco.
One morning, out of habit, Reachel took a pregnancy test. “This one is broken,” she said to Andrew as she showed him the positive stripes.
Andrew, who had just returned from a ward outing with a stomach bug, examined the test. “I think you’re pregnant,” he said. “And I’m the one with morning sickness.”
Nine months later Levi was born, and he and Coco became fast friends. The duo recently welcomed another sibling—Reachel gave birth to a boy at the end of January.
Relishing the recent growth of her family, Reachel says, “It’s good to have situations where we have to be patient and humble and wait on the Lord. I would never want to go through the trial of infertility again, but I’m glad I had that experience. It helped me appreciate my blessings more; I’m able to take them in and absorb them.”
Constructing A Career
Reachel, who wore vintage dresses and carried a plastic briefcase to Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, focused her school years on academics. Her eye for aesthetics and her interest in business shaped her decision to study marketing at the University of Utah. Upon graduation she worked as a webmaster for a 3-D modeling company, which was followed by working as a marketing analyst at myfamily.com.
But after three years, Reachel felt restless. “Sometimes the tech industry can be formulaic and uncreative. I wanted the tools to do things more effectively and push the limits,” she says. “We’re always taught to be continually progressing; earning an MBA seemed like a natural step.”
Reachel’s time at BYU renewed her passion for marketing; she ate up the information in her pricing and promotion, brand management, and marketing research courses. “I could have spent all my tuition on those three classes, and it would have been worth it,” she says.
After interning with GE in Salt Lake City, Reachel landed her Agilix job, where she oversaw a team of five people that was launching an interactive global platform.
“You can do a lot of work remotely, but people don’t get managed virtually very well, especially on projects that aren’t well established,” she says of her decision to split her time between Arizona and Utah.
In addition to her interstate commute, Reachel picked up a once-a-week shift at women’s retailer Anthropologie in Phoenix. After leaving Agilix to start the Bagley baby hunt, Anthropologie offered her a full-time stylist position closer to home.
“It was a great education in consumer behavior—I loved it,” she says. “Any job is what you put into it and what you’re willing to glean.”
By the time Reachel left Anthropologie in 2011, she was armed with the experience to dive into her personal styling business, which she had started two years earlier. Her days now are consumed with writing her blog, cardiganempire.com, and consultations, which can include closet analyses, color draping, and helping clients identify their signature styles. At the base of her fashion endeavors is the goal to help the world feel prettier.
Fabricating A Future
As Reachel was building her styling career, she stopped by Mesa Community College to talk with its retail and fashion department head about guest lecturing in exchange for sitting in on some classes.
The administrator stopped Reachel a few sentences into her pitch. “I don’t want you to guest lecture,” she said. “I’ve got a wardrobe strategies class I need you to teach.”
In the three weeks before the semester started, Reachel wrote the curriculum and organized her sartorial course. “It’s so fun,” she says of her class, which is required to earn an image-consulting certificate. “At the end of the semester I tell my students, ‘I want you to go out there, make me proud, and help people feel happy.’”
Reachel’s goal as a stylist isn’t to remove fashion faux pas from the world; instead she wants to help people feel confident as they walk out the door each day.
“Clothing is trivial; what’s on the inside is most important,” she explains. “At the same time, what we wear can show respect and is a way we make connections with others. So many times we don’t have a chance to open our mouths, yet our clothing communicates.”
Everyone deserves to feel confident and put together, she continues. “People shouldn’t be tugging at their hemlines or worrying about back fat when they could be doing something important,” she says. “I love styling little kids because they don’t have any insecurities, and I wish women could get back to that point. Coco has so much fun dressing up and wearing sweaters. Levi’s the opposite: if that kid could run around naked, he would.”
Whether Reachel is presenting to young women on modesty or sorting a pile of black sweaters in a client’s closet, she draws upon her time at the Marriott School. “I love using marketing, accounting, and finance in my own way,” she says. “I’ve felt very guided along my path.”
Structured like a well-tailored jacket, Reachel’s life is all about balancing her family, skills, and passion. And while getting it right requires creativity and flexibility, in the end, it’s a perfect fit.
Reachel’s Styling Tips
- The sales rack isn’t where you meet your items; that’s where you pick them up. You should have been flirting with these items for a long time so you know you really want them. You want something that’s a good value, not only a good price.
- Identify your signature style and look for inspiration in others. If you have an inspiration board, you can narrow the scope of what you’re shopping for—like filtering a spreadsheet—and you shop to fill the holes in your wardrobe.
- Dressing isn’t about looking opulent or having a certain status. I don’t like flaunting brands or emblems.
- Often people don’t need to buy more clothes, they just need to use their clothes more efficiently.
- I want people to feel empowered and to know they’re always good enough. Women spend a lot of time, especially in fitting rooms, telling themselves they’re not good enough.
- Fashion gets much more textured and interesting when you’re modest. Modesty saves you from a lot of fashion disasters; it’s about being elegant and timeless.
For more of Reachel’s tips, visit her blog: cardiganempire.com
Article written by Emily Smurthwaite Edmonds