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Media & Human Rights

What I Wish I Had Known at the Start of My Career

Call this creepy or kismet, but the same week I had scheduled to write a blog about what I wish I had known about personal styling before starting my career and business, Lori Mihalich-Levin of one of our favorite blogs, Mindful Return, wrote in her newsletter that she was just interviewed by Sara Holtz on her podcast entitled “Advice to a Younger Me.” Of course I immediately wanted to steal that title, but instead maybe I will just pitch Sara to be on her podcast! I have already started listening to past episodes..

We are in our third year teaching the Stylist Studio personal stylist training course and some of my favorite parts of the training are sharing the major lessons that I have learned in my career so that the trainees can learn from my twenty plus years of experience. I think the following three lessons are applicable to all of us as women, business owners, or employees.

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I Have Nothing Left to Prove

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For many years I thought that my initial client consultations were about proving the worth of my service and my fashion chops to potential clients. I would meet potential clients at their homes or for coffee and let them pick my fashion brain. Then I realized that the true purpose of the consultation was to see if the the client was right for my service. That can be done over the phone and email. My service is my service, as customized as it may be for each client. Learning this and changing my process saved me a ton of wasted time on people who really just wanted free information out of me or couldn’t decide if they were worth it.

Not everyone is ready to face their closet honestly. Not everyone thinks they deserve our luxury service. Some may prefer to price shop their own self worth. I have 8 years of blogs and over 20 years of satisfied clients to prove my fashion chops.  Only my confidence was standing in the way of proving the worth of my service. The only thing that needed to change was my attitude.

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It’s Not You, It’s Them.

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If you are kind and compassionate, and someone still freaks out on you, or is unreasonable and demanding, it isn’t because of you. If someone ignores your emails or fails to follow up with you on something they said they would act upon, it isn’t because of you. I really, really wish I had figured this out before I was 35.

I can’t tell you the number of times someone fell off the face of the earth, I took it personally, and then found out later that they had something all-consuming going on personally or professionally. Professional blow-up? Bow-out as gracefully as possibly and move on. Your grace will be remembered by everyone else involved.

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You Are Only As Strong As Your Team

One of our clients shared her motto with me, “You are either on my team or you aren’t.” Everyone you surround yourself with, from the babysitter, to your coworker, to your husband, should be on your team, helping you live your life fully. As fashion cheerleaders for our clients, we are card-carrying members of their teams!

Everyone on your team reflects on you and your business, and everyone outside of your business to whom you refer your clients is an extension of your service and also reflects on you. Get to know those people and treat them well so they will go the extra mile for your clients. We have a stable of salespeople, sales managers, tailors, makeup artists, cobblers, and jewelry designers who make up our extended team of service providers. We always treat them with respect and courtesy and expect them to treat our clients the same way. Our jobs are so much more enjoyable because we consider these people friends. I have been working with my tailor in NYC for over 20 years! You can build your own team of people.

And then there is Kyle. I know, she is amazing! It took me YEARS to find her, and let me tell you, clients still tell me how much they appreciate that I did. Having someone on my team care about the clients as much as I do is essential to the success of RLS. She is also the best online shopper in town! And our resident millennial technophile. I could go on and on, and usually I do. I am just so grateful to have her as part of my team.

What do you wish you had known when you started your career? Who’s on your team?

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Lani Inlander is a personal stylist who has been working with clients who want to feel their best and look put-together every day for over 15 years. You can find her in the Washington, D.C. and New York metropolitan areas. Learn how you can train with Lani to become a personal stylist at The Stylist Studio

You can find Lani Inlander and Real Life Style on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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