THE LIFE OF A PERSONAL FASHION STYLIST
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the life of a personal fashion stylist? Most people often think that they have a glamorous job, where all they do is shop. However, there is a lot more to their job: budgeting, accounting, scheduling, inventory, emails, meetings and other entrepreneurial aspects.
We met Jackie Neville of Your Stylist, LLC at the Eco-Chic Fashion Show in March. Jackie worked hand in hand with Cincy Chic, styling the models that were provided for the show. Through our email correspondence, we learned she was an extremely busy lady, juggling the show details with the schedules of her own personal clients. In fact, her birthday fell on one of her busiest weeks, and she had to put celebration plans aside. We found Jackie very interesting and full of energy.
THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND SUCCESS
This one-woman show has a background in Broadcasting and has had a life full of experiences. Her husband, Shawn, thinks she should have her own show one day, and we concur. Read her inspiring interview to see what drives this spunky blond to run her business, and what she overcame to rise to the top and be a success. Jackie shares her story in the raw and reveals her real self, unedited. Watch the slideshow to catch a glimpse of Jackie in action, behind the scenes of a fashion show.
How did you decide to be a stylist and what jobs did you have before this?
Before I launched Your Stylist LLC, I was in retail management for just over 20 years. I spent years building my career from 15 years old with Limited Brands, PacSun, Fossil, Oakley, Francesa’s; moving to luxury brands like BCBG Max Azria, Elie Tahari and eventually to being a boutique Bridal Stylist at the end of my retail career. There was a huge shift in retail in 2008, and I was with retailers who filed bankruptcy and closed stores, making it a scary, unsecure place to be. This shakeup increased my hours up to 60 hours a week the last years in my retail career, which burned me out to the core. Plus the heavy workload took me away from my customers and clientele, where I actually assisted in wardrobe choices. Instead, I was juggling Store Manager/ Operations Manager/ District trainer all at the same time. It became tiring, so I went into Bridal Styling for a while and loved connecting one on one in a consultative way with the client.
I knew I wanted to get back to that in a way that I could bring my skills to them, rather than being a store setting behind a register or under a retail/boutique name. In 2015, I was sketching out ideas for a personal styling business model. This was also my last year in retail. I knew I wanted to work with women and I knew I wanted to help them redefine their style while taking all the stress out of the shopping process. January of 2016, I launched Your Stylist LLC with a website and no backup plan. I had clients within several weeks and it’s grown at warped speed ever since!
How do you help women find a style that is comfortable for them?
I approach each client differently because no two women are alike. There is no set black and white go-to template. However, it does all begin with the “style questionnaire” as a foundation. Once those questions are answered, I can really start getting to know her and use that foundation to dig deeper into who she is, her lifestyle, her likes/dislikes, what will get her to that best version of herself. From there, the Closet Audit happens and this is where the real truth lies. I can actually see what she’s been struggling with, what’s missing, what needs to go away, what isn’t making sense, fit issues, outfitting issues, etc. I can’t help them redefine their style until they trust me so the process is quite sensitive in terms of confidence issues or any wrenches that have thrown at them in life. They have to really expose what’s going on underneath so what I do is more psychological actually in order to find their own personal style and obtain that ideal wardrobe. Otherwise, if I base it off image, the new style will NOT be comfortable for them at all and they will probably go back eventually.
This is not an extreme makeover like on TV. It’s a collaborative process to make her “the best version of herself,” a theme I proudly repeat again and again. It is about her first and the clothes second. My process is true personal styling, NOT image consulting. What is most important is how she FEELS and then looks even better to match that. An image to impress people is not lasting or genuine and people will see through it. Actual style and confidence is worn differently and confidently. That confidence will radiate naturally to others because it’s coming from within. She’s wearing the clothes, the clothes aren’t wearing her. That’s what makes me different as a stylist.
What is the most challenging aspect of owning your own company?
The most challenging aspect of owning my own company is that I’ve done this all alone. And no one told me that when I found a shred of success that people all around me would desert me. I was expecting support and some offers of help; but I’ve gotten none of that. I am okay now with not having a group of people rallying around me. I realized I will never be that person. I’ve always had to fight for everything on my own and make it against the odds since from a very young age. Last year, I thought I found an all female group to finally get some support but it turns out they were against me-not with me, so I was out on my own once again. I have my husband who is my main support and select few who have provided some support. The challenge of having no help and no support would stop some people but I’m using it as fuel instead to keep going.
What do you love most about your job?
The best part of my job is that no day is exactly the same and things happen quickly, meaning freedom and flexibility are of the utmost importance. My clients say jump, I say how high! If they want to take a trip to NYC to 5th Ave, I’m there! Or if I am tapped to do style a fashion show or speak at a university or women’s event…I have to be available! Not everyone is adaptable the way I am and it takes a certain person to live the entrepreneur life but I LOVE IT!
What is your own personal style?
My own personal style is a cool girl vibe but refined when I feel the need–sassy but a little bad ass-y! My hairstyle will tell you that!
Describe your go-to outfit.
It’s so hard to pick one go-to outfit but I’d say some premium denim, a cool tee with a blazer or a kick-ass leather jacket and a pair of unusual loafers or sneakers, but the accessories make it…I love piling on the jewelry, never leave home without my watch, eight rings, several earrings, bracelets and necklaces layered, and of course a pair of designer shades. Sounds like a lot but it’s normal for me!
What does your closet look like and how much of your closet do you actually wear?
My closet is interesting. I have a collection of blazers, I have a special love for white blazers. I own a ton of dresses: leather ones, beaded ones, fancy ones, weird ones, you name it. Some of my favorites are Ted Baker and French Connection. I have stacks of denim in an array of colors, I have dress pants, skirts, a huge rack of tees, cool blouses ranging from sheer to thick polyester, tons of layering pieces and sweaters too! Most of what I own is from Nordstrom, Zara, TJMaxx, Anthropologie and some of my favorite brands are Helmut Lang, L.A.M.B., Gucci, Versace, Tom Ford, Mui Mui. Too many to name but I always find the look for less!!
Who inspires you?
In terms of style and who I look up to, I have been influenced heavily by music most of my life. The coolest of the cool inspire me: Gwen Stefani, Santigold, Janet Jackson, MIA, Robyn. In the 80’s, as a kid, I loved Cyndi Lauper’s style and early Madonna along with Blondie and Stevie Nicks. But in the 90’s, I was vibing more with Gwen (of course), Mary J. Blige, Linda Perry, D’arcy Wretzky, Shirley Manson, Courtney Love, Juliana Hatfield. This was the time my style was really defined because I am a Gen-X’er after all! Even to this day, I still wear my Dr. Martens and band tees!
But when we are talking business and entrepreneurship, the OG #girlboss herself, Sophia Amoruso, really inspires me because we have some parallels. She actually has a nontraditional background and worked in retail as well. Her story is one that inspires many, for all of you readers who haven’t checked her out. I read her book around the time I launched my company and was like “I can f***ing do this!” Actually, March of 2017 I went to the first ever GIRLBOSS Rally in L.A. It was a day of female empowerment and gave me just the push I needed. 2017 was a tremendous year of growth and momentum!
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
I would tell my 20-year-old self that it’s okay to keep standing out–you always have. This is why even as a teen, I stood out for my style and just being my real self. Don’t waste time blending in, don’t “tone it down,” don’t keep your ideas to yourself as you’ve been told to do. But at 20 I had just gotten out of a bad, abusive relationship so I would tell that young lady that things are going to get good one day, you’ll see. You will have some more shitty stuff in your 20’s though, but after that, things change in a way never imagined. I would have told my 20-year-old self to start her business a lot earlier though. That’s my only regret, in fact, is that I didn’t start my company sooner.
What in your past has empowered you to push forward with your dream?
I come from an oppressive, blue-collar factory town that one has little to no chance of getting out of. It’s really a depressing place. And I grew up being terrorized in a violent household. Exposure to drugs and alcohol, beatings, going to jailhouses, having police at the house on a regular basis, etc. I knew growing up what I was seeing, I wasn’t going to be THAT–that being my mom’s second husband who was a drug and alcohol abuser. Wasn’t going to be a product of my environment. Luckily, my mom is a driven person and always strived for better so I took after her in that. This man made our home a house of horrors told me I was a loser, a nobody, a nothing from the time I was 6 to almost 19 years old. He said I was nothing and would always be nothing–yes he left bruises on me that are gone but the abuse that never leaves is the mental/emotional abuse.
I still hear that voice that I’m worthless and a nobody BUT I decided that can’t stop me even though I still suffer damage from those words. So I didn’t create this success to prove anything to anyone but myself. I started retail as a teenager and saw I was damn good at it and became a manager at 17. It got me out of there and I used retail to build 20+ years of business acumen to get to where I am now with Your Stylist, LLC. Even in retail, I suffered verbal abuse from poor leaders who held me back for years but I was able to push ahead and create my own business. So I’ve never had anyone cheerleading me on. I’ve always been torn down over and over but I have managed to turn that into motivation somehow. Also, not being given any advantages or help in life drives one to create opportunities instead of waiting on them to arrive.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I have some fun facts!! I was an extra in the movie “Airborne” in the 90’s. Jack Black and Seth Greene are in it. I had braces at 36. I used to win hula-hoop contests as a kid and can still do it for hours on end! I met my skateboarding idol in 2000, Steve Caballero. Oh and I can still ride a skateboard. 🙂