Public relations officer Rachel Briant has built a solid career for herself, and she attributes much of her growth to the city centre.
“The CBD is good for creatives – it fosters creativity. There’s no doubt where you need to be at some point in your career.”
Rachel was born in London but moved to Cape Town when she was young because her father was a Capetonian.
She eventually settled in Kommetjie after moving around for quite a bit and attended school in Constantia. After she matriculated, Rachel went on to study journalism at City Varsity in the CBD and eventually moved to the city, where she lived while she was studying.
“This was my first time living in the CBD. It was intimidating because it’s so busy all the time, and there are so many people. The hustle and bustle sometimes became too much, but it is exciting as well.
“But when you find the spaces in the city that comfort you, the quiet corners, it’s easier to find a balance.”
After she completed her course, she moved to Muizenberg. “There were many reasons, but the main one was the cost of living was too high. I wasn’t studying anymore, so I needed to find a job to sustain myself.”
Rachel cut her teeth in the city centre, where she was introduced to public relations.
“I did a little freelance writing for a newspaper in the city that has now closed down. I used to travel by train everyday. That’s one of the things I love about town – it’s very convenient to take public transport and walk around. I walked in the Company’s Garden almost every day. It’s so beautiful there.”
While Rachel had worked for other companies across Cape Town, she always ended up back in the city.
“This is where things are happening, and it’s always the most exciting things.” One of the biggest projects Rachel has taken on was the Open Design Festival, where she worked as a public relations officer since its inception in 2013.
The Open Design Festival, a design-focused festival hosted by the City of Cape Town, is held at the City Hall annually.
“It was challenging because of the scale of the event, but it was very vibrant. I got to see so many projects on display and see the talent our city has. There were so many good designers and wonderful projects to see.”
While she worked at Open Design, she also did some freelance work at hotel groups in the city, including Radisson Blu. Asked how she managed to do so many freelance jobs, Rachel said: “It’s not easy juggling so much, but as long as you are passionate about what you do, it will get done and you will find ways to overcome the challenges.”
After she got married, Rachel decided that she wanted to move back to the city.
“I’ve always wanted to move back, but my husband didn’t want to. However, I managed to convince him that this is where we need to be in terms of our lifestyle – and it was good for my career.”
Rachel has now settled into a full-time job as a public relations officer, where she works with a well-known sneaker brand, and also lives in the city.
“In the CBD, there is so much to see and do. I was lucky enough to meet people who know the best places to go and the best things to do. It’s always good to know when what happens, that way you can get much more done.”
She said the city centre had a big hand in fostering her career. “The CBD is at the forefront of trends, and there is so much creativity bubbling to the surface.”
While she enjoys the convenience of living in the city, Rachel said it isn’t always the safest place. “I once had my phone taken in Long Street. I think that Long Street is not what it used to be, and that’s sad.
“I think entertainment is moving around now. Bree Street is up and coming and so is Kloof Street.”
However, she said activities such as First Thursdays were helping the security issue.
“It helped open up the city, and all the people who attend makes you feel safer, and it’s a boost for businesses too.”
While the busy city was healthy for her career, Rachel said it can be frightening too.
“My advice is to take as much as you need from the city, but be careful, because it can be overwhelming and swallow you in.”