I think it’s safe to say, we all have had our good days and bad days throughout the past seven weeks of quarantine. Personally, I have found that I’m often triggered by the weather. Give me a little sunshine to start the day and my outlook improves exponentially. The other influential factor of a feel-good day coincides with making it a look good day. Since the beginning of the “stay home” order, I’ve been part of the team of women at The Hive working to keep the lights on even when the lights were actually off. I admit, at the onset of this virus I was faced with a challenge of exploring what my purpose should be. It was hard to ignore some crystal clear history I brought to the table. This might be my first pandemic but it sure ain’t my first rodeo.
In 2007 I was the manager of Hysteria (one of the first upscale women’s boutiques in Old Town with a forward eye on fashion) and fought tooth and nail to keep the doors open during the mortgage crisis recession where people stopped shopping. This was a period where I developed acute survival skills and entertained the unimaginable daily. At the slightest mention of the possibilities of closing my fierce mantra become, “Not on my watch!” I reached deep and found brands that offered margins we desperately needed (anyone remember Skunkfunk?!! This brand saved my bacon. They’re now SKFK.) In my understanding of the world, there are no coincidences. So, on March 13, 2020, I chose to do what I knew how to do – fight for small business survival.
Thankfully this time it was under Elizabeth’s fearless guidance and two days a week I came to The Hive and learned how to safely adjust a brick and mortar model to a curbside / home delivery / Instagram boutique business. All Elizabeth needed to do was ask and I was a willing participant. Funny how life has a way of prepping you for something such as a pandemic. Having survived through 2007 – 2009 I was all too familiar with what it felt like to face unknown territory in retail. Instagram became the critical ally. Knowing I would be in front of The Hive’s Instagram audience on those days kept me focused on the importance of presenting the polish you come to expect from someone whose business is style.
I noticed a big difference in my outlook on the days I put effort into my outfit and makeup versus the days I chose to remain in cozies with a scrubbed face. This phenomenon was further realized a couple weeks ago as I was delivering sundries to my client Karen Barnes curbside. While discussing the woes of planning her daughter’s wedding during a pandemic on this beautiful afternoon, another client of mine sashays (yes…she sashays) by with her four-legged companion, Bear. It was if I had manifested the need to understand my purpose. Brooke Curran of Running Brooke is looking every bit of put together in a micro-striped Nili Lotan T-shirt and a pair of Apiece Apart Merida pants ~ all were selections of mine. Her hair and jewelry are perfectly in line with the effortless ease of her ensemble. I wanted to hug her, but social distancing kept me in check. And as if seeing her wasn’t enough to feel effective, Brooke reiterated that putting herself together daily keeps her focused and productive. My clients are amazing women who have secured my understanding that we are all here to assist each other throughout our lives – and definitely throughout a novel virus that has spun us on our Golden Goose clad heels.
My business has changed in the last few weeks but then so have the women I have been styling. There is a new challenge in front of us that entails defining what we wear in order to feel productive, invigorated and yes, stylish. In many ways, we have left the closet we once knew behind. One of my clients not only swapped out her closet for spring but swapped out her closet for Corona. It was too frustrating to look at all the pieces she would not be wearing so she packed up her office pieces and replaced that high real estate space in her closet with more casual lifestyle wear that she has adapted to for Zoom and homeschooling. Virtual Styling Calls have become an event that I look forward to as much as the women I am helping. If laughter is food for the soul, styling might be the supplements. The connection is something we both yearn for and a desire to feel empowered through controlling what you can control. Styling sessions enrich your frame of mind by keeping you in touch with how you feel about yourself. We are all going to be faced with adjusting our wardrobes to our new lifestyles. I predict wardrobes will have less of a division of uses and more of a comprehensive basis. Thus, an opportunity to redefine established rules.
Deconstruction has prolific benefits. As a self-proclaimed creative, it’s imperative that we keep the fun in “functional fashion.” I intend on remaining in the conversation as to what’s ahead. Lately, my client calls have become tutoring sessions where we are working toward a degree in individual personal style. What starts out as a small immediate project evolves into taking control of how we want to dress. Online shopping is now a necessity and many women have signed up to receive a “Virtual Shopping Cart” after our online sessions. The VSC is an email filled with links to items in a client’s size from a number of resources. Imagine having a personal shopper fill your inbox with items that specifically suit your needs and create new outfits using the pieces you already own. Becoming adept at online shopping is becoming crucial and deciphering online information isn’t always that easy. Recently I’ve found that some of my favorite online destinations no longer have models! Clothing without the human element becomes that much more challenging.
In school I learned how to read architectural drawings and engineering notes. Taking two-dimensional information to three-dimensional application is a skill that has served me well. In the immediate future, we are all going to have to take a leap of faith and learn to manage expectations in a new way. I’m encouraging my clients to take more time to “personalize” pieces we find. This translates to embracing alterations and getting what you want instead of feeling limited by what is offered. Could we be at the onset of revisiting an approach to style that was offered before the Industrial Revolution? Taking the clothing industry back to its origin would be an interesting model to explore.
One takeaway I’ve captured from the pandemic is that businesses of all types have been forced to fast track online services. What may have been a business solution some were exploring for the future has immediately become a necessity for survival. If you would like to set up a Virtual Appointment with me, I am offering an intro rate for new clients. These sessions are 50 minutes long and will include some evening times. Please email me for a link to the calendar. Finding the right stylist is similar to finding a therapist or colorist that suits your personality and can execute your vision. If you are welcoming an effective distraction these days, let me help you create a blueprint for a wardrobe and develop a strategy for post quarantine existence. That day will come, and you can be ready.