Agolde, November 2016:
One look at Rachel “Rocky” Barnes’ Instagram account and it’s easy to see why over 800k followers are obsessed with the bohemian beauty and her modeling escapades. “I will pay for three minutes of inflight Wifi to check Instagram between when a flight takes off and lands,” says the social media phenom, who rigorously blogs about her model-off-duty style and international adventures, too. “It’s less of a guilty pleasure and more of an addiction at this point really. Do they offer a support group for that yet?” she jokes.
But it’s serious business for the model who first landed on the pop culture radar as the vixen in Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” video in 2013, followed by a flurry of campaigns for the likes of Billabong Australia, Ralph Lauren, and 360Cashmere, with whom she recently teamed up for a collab. A quintessential California girl who’s as comfortable in a string bikini as jeans, Barnes has also graced the coveted pages of Vogue. (Oh, and did we mention she’s a black-belt ninja?)
Growing up in Manhattan Beach, Barnes’ modeling potential was apparent from an early age (her mother, Cruz, would take her young daughter on casting calls for the likes of Mattel). While Barnes’ career in front of the camera didn’t take off immediately, her’ love of fashion did—a result of after-school hours spent in the styling department on the Fox television set where her mother worked as a makeup artist. Weekends were reserved for flea markets around Southern California where Cruz sold collectibles to earn extra income and a teenage Barnes sourced vintage tees, which she later embellished and turned into customized pieces.
The shirts were a hit amongst Barnes’ peers at Mira Costa High, and before long, the line was snapped up by a boutique in Hermosa Beach. Barnes decided to create an official label and website for herself—Rocky Barnes— using the nickname she had been given as a child. Having forfeited the domain rockybarnes.com when she officially gave up with her childhood modeling aspirations, Barnes opted for rockybarnesblog.com. Today, the site is one of the hallmarks of Barnes’ fame, a carefully curated online destination where the model documents everything from life on set to her shoppable outfits and her life on the road, from Miami to the Maldives. “I love the excitement of exploring somewhere totally new and different, meeting new people, shopping, obviously. That sense of discovery is really satisfying for me,” says Barnes.
As much as she embraces the glamorous aspects of her job, Barnes acknowledges the hard work it requires, too. The best piece of advice she’s been given in tough work situations? “Lose five pounds and get out of my sight,” says Barnes, who’s also a firm believer in working with a strong team. A good photographer, she says, “has a vision and the confidence to execute it—especially when that confidence comes from meticulous and tenacious preparation. As a model, nothing is harder to cope with than a lack of momentum, waiting around while people try to find last-minute solutions due to poor planning.”
Hopping time zones can take its toll, so when Barnes needs to unplug and recharge, you can find her in her favorite places—a tree-house getaway in Bali, or back home in Southern California, where Cruz spoils Barnes with her Filipino cooking. “It’s important to have time at home to reset, find your center and just take care of every day life stuff to avoid feeling overwhelmed,” she says. No stranger to indulgences, Barnes admits a weakness for the likes of fluffy robes, a well-stocked mini bar but when it comes down to it, this high-flying model and social-media force is still as down to earth as they get. “Even in your day-to-day life you can inspire kindness and compassion by showing it,” she says. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
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