5 Rules For Life: Rachel Dodson Of Penh Lenh

Rachel Dodson left her fast-paced job as a modeling agent in New York City to pursue a career in serving and empowering marginalized women. It was then that Rachel traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and saw the need for women to be educated and provided with self-sustaining jobs. Just a couple months later, her bags were packed for good.Thus began Penh Lenh and over the past four years, it’s grown into an internationally recognized jewelry company that produces unique and bold pieces, while serving its artisans through quality education, sustaining employment, and female empowerment. Here, Rachel’s 5 Rules For Life, in her words.

1. Be nice to yourself. You listen to your inner dialogue all day, so what you tell yourself matters. If you can cut out negative thinking and replace it with positive self-affirmations, good changes will follow. We are all too hard on ourselves for no reason.

2. Look for the kindness in others. If you give people the chance, their personality will shine through. We can choose to judge others based on appearances, or we can choose to search for the good in their personality instead. You will be surrounded by kind, wonderful people if you intentionally seek the kindness in others. Even in stressful situations, like getting cut off in a long line or having a disagreement with someone, make it a point to not snap to a negative judgement.

3. Use bold accessories as  your armor…. Ok – Rachel Zoe might have said this first, but I totally agree! Basically, you don’t have to apologize for dressing up – use accessories and fashion to feel confident. The right jewelry can take a simple jeans and t-shirt look to a totally fashion-forward outfit, which will set the tone for you to have a great day. So never leave the house without your “armor”!  

4. …But choose your armor wisely. As a society, we are inundated with fast fashion. It seems like everywhere you go, you can get the latest trend quickly, easily and inexpensively. But what happens a couple of months later when that trend goes out of style? Our consumption habits can be wasteful, so I make it a rule to invest in essential and timeless items created by socially-conscious and eco-friendly companies to “arm” myself for the day. When you choose fashion that is sustainably made, you can feel good not only about the way you look, but also about your environmentally and economically beneficial choices.

5. Travel whenever you can, wherever you can. The first time I traveled outside of the US, I was already in my 20’s and the experience was an absolute game changer. I was amazed not only at how much I learned about other cultures and countries, but also what I learned about myself. Traveling is such an important (and fun!) way to expand your worldview, learn empathy for others and educate yourself through real-life experiences. If you can go, GO!


Thanks, Rachel!


Stay tuned for more Five Rules installments.

 “Five Rules,” is a series on Rouge18 in which I ask others to share their five rules for life about anything and everything. You can learn a lot about a person by reading which five things govern their actions, no?

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