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40 Under 40 Edition

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Rachel Clark-Kennedy, 33

Justin Brands Inc., Senior Designer/Developer, Footwear Development

Take a look at Rachel Clark-Kennedy’s resume and you’ll immediately understand her current occupation at Justin Brands. She has more than nine years experience in bootmaking and shoemaking within the western fashion market.

And while she doesn’t live in Fort Worth full-time – she and her husband and his family ranch and raise Black Angus cattle in South Dakota – she maintains a residence in Fort Worth for business trips to Justin.

She was born in Redmond, Oregon, and then lived in New Mexico as well as Texas growing up where she attended Weatherford High School and the Tarleton State University in Stephenville, where she had a rodeo scholarship.

Clark-Kennedy began her career at Justin Brands in 2012 as a product development trainee but within three months was assigned to create new, core western styling for the Justin Bent Rail Men’s and Ladies’ collection, which was at the time, Justin’s best selling USA made product.

Other assignments followed.

“I have a knack for understanding retail needs and identifying target customers’ needs because I truly live the western lifestyle that retailers and western wear brands aim to project,” she says, but she continuously strives to gain new perspectives through travel, product, customer, retail feedback, and market research, and now has contributed to all western and casual product within the Justin brand.

In previous years she developed products for the Tony Lama, Nocona and Chippewa brands.

“Being a woman within this profession has had its challenges. I feel it’s necessary for other women to see that anything can be accomplished by anyone when you work hard and apply yourself towards any chosen career,” Clark-Kennedy says.

– Paul K. Harral

Where did your first paycheck come from?

I believe my very first paycheck came from a propane company I worked at outside of Weatherford when I was a teenager. My role there was to call customers to schedule propane refill visits at their home as well as inquire about past due balances.  

What movie, TV series, play or video game influenced you growing up?

Growing up I loved watching movies, especially western movies. Dances with Wolves was and still is one of my favorite films. When I was young I loved the Native American characters because their wardrobe and culture was so fascinating to me. As I got old enough to understand the premise of the movie; the film tells a good story about cultural inclusion and diversity in America.

What other profession would you like to try?

It’s a bit farfetched, but I think if I could go back and get into a whole different profession it’d have to be as a DJ. One of these days I’m going to learn how to scratch!

Tell us about an influential person in your life, how they influenced you and why he or she was important.

The most influential person in my life is my mother, Lisa Clark. She raised me as a single parent and instilled so many beneficial qualities into my upbringing by being a creative, hard-working, loving, and caring mom. When I was a child, on any given day, she could be riding her horses, moving cows, judging a cutting horse competition, inspecting livestock, cooking, decorating the house, or branding calves! Ha-ha! She’s really a jack of all trades and can do anything she sets her mind to. Her independence and strong will is beyond commendable. Love you, mom.

When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

I’ve always enjoyed creating, decorating, and repurposing anything and everything. Initially, interior design was a profession I got into, but after college I stumbled upon an opening for a sales representative position at Justin Brands, and, well, the rest is history. I interviewed for sales, but was then offered a position in product development!

What is your favorite song?

 Dreams, The Cranberries

Tell us about your photo shoot prop.

My prop are pairs of my favorite cowboy boots. These boots represent my boot design/product development career as well as mine and my family’s western way of life.

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