Seven years ago mum-of-two Rachael Hutchinson took on a new name, new clothes and a new found confidence in the world of pin-up and rockabilly.
Now commonly known as Miss Pearl Lee Shells, Hutchinson has set her sights on branching beyond the Illawarra scene and head to the biggest vintage pin-up competition in the world at the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend.
The festival at The Orleans Hotel is now in its 20th year showcases everything in ‘50s style from entertainment, style, burlesque, hot rods and more, and attracts more than 20,000 visitors each year.
Hutchinson, who runs Bulli vintage store My ‘50s Closet with her mother, is drumming up local support to help her get shortlisted for the final 12 of the pageant and fulfill her dream, “the pinnacle” for every pin-up.
“It’s so huge, my daughter’s like ‘you’ll be good mum, be confident’,” she said.
“I have done a few local pin-up competitions so that got my confidence up, so [this would be] the next step in my journey.”
Despite suffering anxiety, Hutchinson manages to contain her fears once on the stage and flashing that pearly smile.
After judging pin-up pageants herself, she realised many women suffer nerves which put her mind at ease greatly.
Prior to transforming herself into a woman of style, Hutchinson was a children’s entertainer and ran a fairy shop.
“I’ve always been interested since I was a teenager,” she said.
“I love that it embraces all women of all body shapes and all ages, like my mum who is 63 gets out in her pin-up. It embraces kind of a really wide range of people and makes them feel really comfortable.”
Since opening their vintage fashion store, Hutchinson has noted the rockabilly and pin-up scene slowly growing around the Illawarra with several themed events running throughout the year.
Her children Tabitha, 10, and Randall, 8, both love their mother’s sense of style and said they were excited she’s trying so hard to get to Vegas.
“She would be crying so much [to be shortlisted], she would be so happy,” said Tabitha.
To help Miss Pearl Lee Shells get to Vegas, VOTE by visiting www.vivalasvegas.net/pin-up-contest/