What’s Next Now!

One of the advantages of my job as a wardrobe stylist is that every new client is like a gift I get to engage with. Sometimes the engagement is short and other engagements become lifelong. Last month, I was asked to be a guest on the What’s Next Now! podcast, which includes conversations about the value of “enhanced human connection” surrounding business growth and career success. The host, Gary Danoff, is married to one of my new closet clients, Debbie.

The first time I met Gary, Debbie and I were deep diving into her closet. She was in some state of undress and we were both wearing masks – quite the scene!! The three of us acknowledged the unusual circumstances we have encountered during COVID. As I was saying goodbye in their driveway, Debbie asked if I would consider being a guest on Gary’s podcast. They had both thought I had a very genuine appeal that conveyed over the videos I’ve been posting on Instagram. I think they were especially enamored with my premise to “never let time define you – you define time!” 2020 is a most unusual year and I didn’t blink an eye. Podcast? Sure!



As it turns out, Gary and I have a connection beyond his wife, Debbie. We discovered we are both graduates of VCU. Gary is a business consultant and coaches executives on creating sustainable engagements that add value to business. Evidently, my Instagram videos stood out to Gary as good examples of how to humanize technology and create an authentic experience. The fact that he was introduced to me by his wife while she’s trying on clothes in their bedroom established I had no doubt developed a skill grounded in trust. Here are a few of the topics we covered in the podcast…


“{Styling} seems like a very trusting place for people to go with you. How do you hold that trust?”

I admit this question took me off guard. I wasn’t sure I had ever thought about how I hold that trust. Staying involved in brick and mortar retail at The Hive keeps my toolbox filled with a wealth of understanding about human behavior and I genuinely enjoy the community connections. When my styling clients reach out, they are ready to take a leap of faith. In the boutique, they can come with more trepidation. Adapting to a stranger’s comfort level is an important skill these days. During the podcast, I reveal to Gary that I attribute this strength to a period of bartending and waiting tables. I defined those years as where I earned my advanced degree in sociology. Developing an authentic exchange with people involves keeping all your senses acute. Doing this at a comfortable distance is one thing; going into the dressing room and homes is next level.



“What’s your best human strength?”

This was another thought-provoking question to answer. One might think I would say my super strength is my ability to connect. I actually value my artistic eye. Many stylists come to this career from some aspect of retail. Some have been owners and others have worked in the industry via major retailers and boutiques. I suppose I could have come to this career from any number of avenues. Through all of my career pivots, I have always heavily leaned on my ability to think laterally. I didn’t understand the true value of this skill when it was introduced to me as a college freshman. However, I did understand the value when I was hired as a user interface designer in 1996. I graduated from VCU in 1988, was downsized as a commercial interior designer in 1990, and pivoted to the restaurant industry for over five years (working on my advanced degree!). My training and education as a designer was sought after for an ability to think beyond a software developer and coder. During the interview, I extrapolated the idea that as an interior designer, you must lead the user through spaces while giving them a sense of where they are in their environment. This is accomplished using several techniques – color, signage, scale, openings to the exterior, choice of materials… These same principles should be applied to the virtual world of interface design as well. Yay me – I landed the job.




My business was named Tulle Box because I have a number of skills as a creative that have kept me relevant to any number of industries. The diversity of interactions I developed as a bartender and server have kept me grounded in the human dynamic. I will never underestimate how that period has shaped me. People yearn to be understood. I keep that in my head and then use my super skills to show them ideas that they might not have envisioned.



There are definitely days I feel I’ve become a businesswoman in spite of myself. I know the principals behind building a business, but my talent has taken me to a very personal place during a very unusual time. Thankfully I am a single entity with the ability to pivot every morning. I’ve realized that while there are places technology can be thoughtfully utilized; I never want to let an algorithm on the backend of an application replace me. People are not processes and they want to be valued uniquely. I try and honor this in my approach to business development. All too often, business models want to replicate analytic data-driven solutions. While I love data, technology will never replace the need for human interaction. There is an energy that is transferred when people come together. During this pandemic, I’m attempting to take that energy online by offering authenticity laced with goofy flubs, moments of looking for the right word, or an analogy to explain my approach to developing one’s style. Perhaps this is how I hold that precious contract of trust. I offer a genuine part of myself in order to establish a human connection.

Take a listen if you’re curious what other secrets of my success were unveiled during this interview. If you’re a business owner, you may find Gary’s focus on human connection beneficial. He’s very engaging and offers some great insights through his guests. Here’s a link to follow What’s Next Now!


  • The latest from Alicia
Alicia was born and raised in Alexandria, and married a local boy. She is happily married and the mother of two amazing children and one adorable and terribly smart border terrier named Dixie. Alicia has always known she was a creative. She collected editions of Vogue from junior high on and has always loved clothing and design. She studied interior design at VCU and parlayed that degree into commercial interior design, the web design, and ultimately found herself managing a local boutique and serving as a stylist to many Alexandrian women. She now has a successful full-time styling business, The Tulle Box, and makes it her business to make her clients feel great about themselves and the way they look.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get your daily dose of all things fashion, beauty, fitness, and design. Locally sourced and locally styled!