What Happened When I Hired A Stylist

Fashion is a total art form for me, and much like your home’s interior design, I believe that what you wear should be a reflection of who you are and what you love.

So I’m going to go ahead and admit that I have always had a shopping problem - I love clothes, and I especially love scoring great deals on designer items. Right up until a few weeks before Whitley waltzed into my closet, I purged my clothes every few months, but somehow no matter how much I tossed, my closet was still packed to the gills.

As my business has continued to grow over the last year, I felt like I wanted my clothes to be a better reflection of my own personal style. I think since I’m both getting older and inching closer to 40, I’m also embracing this season of life and the personal evolution and growth that comes along with it.

Whitley Adkins Hamlin

Whitley Adkins Hamlin

I’m a huge fan of Whitley Adkins Hamlin, and have both read her blog and followed her on instagram for years - she’s definitely one of my style icons. She’s literally the queen of fashion and is well-known in Charlotte and beyond for her killer sense of personal style. Check her out and you’ll see what I mean - she’s used to working with celebrity clients, so I was totally intimidated because I didn’t think she’d work with a normal person like me! I finally put all of my insecurities aside and gave her a call - y’all, she is truly one of the most genuine and kind souls I’ve ever met! We started with a great phone conversation, and scheduled my closet clean-out session.

When the day finally arrived, Whitney showed up at my home dressed to perfection - seriously, her closet must be like heaven on earth! Not only is Whitley beautiful on the outside, she is truly beautiful on the inside. She’s a mom and a runner, a cheerleader and encourager for others, and she’s definitely someone I want to be like when I “grow up!”

We chatted for a while - she asked me about my style icons, what I loved, my favorite styles, etc - and then got to work! I love how Whitley talked me through what to keep and what to get rid of - she helped me see what works for me and my body, and more importantly, what doesn’t. I tried on EVERY ITEM in my closet, and by the time we were done I found myself staring at the mountain of clothes on my bed in disbelief. I had NO IDEA just how many clothes I had that I didn’t wear or that didn’t truly speak to me and reflect my personal style. Honestly, I kind of felt frustrated with myself when I saw how much I had, especially when most items had only been worn once or twice… or still had the tags on! Whitley and I purged probably 90% of my entire wardrobe, and it felt GOOD. I didn’t feel any stress or pressure, and I truly believe Whitley helped me define my personal style. In fact, I was able to get rid of 12 trash bags full of clothes, shoes, and jewelry!

Mountain of clothes - this was taken when we were about halfway done!

Mountain of clothes - this was taken when we were about halfway done!

I did freak out a bit after she left… I kept asking myself “what am I going to wear?!” I’ve never had such a small amount of clothes to choose from in my entire life! (I know #firstworldproblems) But honestly, it feels so nice to not have so much to choose from and to know that I really love every item I own. It’s actually much easier to get ready in the morning, simply because I’m not in sensory overload as soon as I wake up and walk in my closet.

In addition to purging my closet, she and I went through all of my drawers (i’m never allowed to buy a concert t-shirt again), and I got rid of a lot of my workout clothes and even some of my pajamas! There's no reason any person should have 10 sets of pajamas and 26 (!!!) pairs of yoga pants - trust me.

So what happens now? Well, Whitley took extensive, detailed notes during both our phone call and our closet cleanup session, and she really got to know me. From here, she will pull together outfits for me to try on, and we’ll have regular shopping sessions where she selects items for me. Whitley will also style me whenever I have a big event or photo shoot, which will eliminate the hours of outfit selection stress.

I truly believe every person should find a stylist and hire them - even if it’s just for a closet cleanout session. It’s only been a couple of weeks since my time with Whitley, and I can already tell that I’m more confident in what I wear and am excited to get ready each day. AND - I’ve definitely shopped less, which my husband would say is the biggest benefit! Ha! Honestly, hiring Whitley was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I am so glad I have her on my team. Everyone needs a Whitley!

#MomBossMonday - Alison Hall

Welcome to the first official #MomBossMonday - I am beyond excited for this weekly series! It's been so awesome hearing the stories of so many amazing, talented women in the Charlotte area, and I cannot wait to share their words with you!

Our first #MomBoss is the FABULOUS Alison Hall - I'll let her begin!

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Hi Alison! Tell me about you!

I have been in Charlotte since elementary school and when I went off to college (at Virginia Tech) I thought that I'd never come back home... but here I am and loving it!  I married another Hokie, Chris, and we have two boys.  Erik is 6 and Lucas is 4... and we are expecting #3 in December.  I'm an architect and have always been very passionate about my career and thus it has kind of become my hobby as well.  I love traveling with my entire crew and checking out architecture around the world!   Our boys are also very passionate about specific things (right now it's animals), so we spend a lot of time exploring new fun places to learn more about their passions!  Our goal this summer is to go to zoos in 4 different states!

What do you do? How did you get started? 

I'm an architect and knew that I wanted to be an architect since I was 12.  I used to design apartment complexes and houses while watching TV when I was in middle school and I actually do that now!  I worked in a firm until my son was born and attempted to work part time after my oldest was born.  This was also during the recession, so I was laid off.  While it was unexpected and threw me off, I wasn't a fan of being on someone else's schedule so I decided to start my own firm.  I started contracting with a local architecture firm and also started getting my own clients for single family homes.  Six years in and my client base has grown, yet I'm still just a one person firm.  I like working with each of my clients from start to finish and continuing to do the 'fun part' of the job... and I realized that I wasn't great at HR, hiring/firing, etc!  I absolutely love the flexibility of my job since I get to set meetings/schedules, but it's hard for me to fully turn off on vacation... and I work most nights after my boys go to bed.  It definitely has its pros and cons, but for me and my family, it works!

What is your biggest challenge (or biggest challenges) in juggling your home and business or job?

Child care has been stressful.  I try to work mostly full days during the week so that I have my weekends with the family.  My boys have usually been in half-day preschool and then I would have to pick them up with a babysitter at home in the afternoons.  Some babysitters were reliable and some were not.  And having to take an hour break in the middle of the day was a challenge for scheduling meetings.  Last year my oldest started Kindergarten and my youngest was part of a reliable nanny share... it was amazing!  Next year, both kids will be in full day care, so I'm looking forward to the consistency of that schedule!  (Although come December when the baby comes, I will be starting from scratch!)  I also learned a few years ago to outsource those house things that I'm not good at... like cleaning, laundry, and yard work.  It gives us more time on the weekends to be with our boys.  

What do you love most about your business?

I love meeting new clients (who often become friends!) and helping them realize the potential in their homes.  Anyone can build a huge house with a room for every need, but I love finding creative ways to reorganize space (or add just a little bit) and make their home work much better for their family.  I love that I can take my mom/wife skills and use those in design to make more functional spaces.  I get so excited about new projects and then I LOVE going into the houses when they are under construction or visiting a client's home after they have moved back into the space and hearing how much they like everything.  Makes all the stress and hours so worth it. 

What is your best life hack or secret for getting everything done?

I have a few... First, a calendar on my phone that has a schedule for everyone in the family.  I put everything in there (specific camps, school holidays and half days (who invented those?!?), who is picking up what kid and when, gym schedules, meetings etc) so that there is no question as to what's happening a specific day.  It's color coded and my husband and I are linked up so we are both on the same page.  Second, a village.  I have many mom friends as well as my parents (who live 1/2 mile up the road) who I can call on in a pinch if needed.  I try not to take advantage of anyone, my husband and I can usually cover any abnormal schedules, but having my village there is key.  And lastly, I really try to prioritize my time.  When it's work time, I am completely in the zone, knocking off everything on my to do list.  And when I'm not working, I try to stay off of email (although I'm not perfect there).  I don't usually answer my phone outside of my 9-4 working hours which annoys some commercial clients and contractors, but my kids deserve my time and questions can usually wait an hour or until the morning!  

What’s one piece of advice or encouragement you’d give a fellow #momboss?

Be upfront with people.  If you set a certain expectation up front (you turn off your phone completely during vacation, you don't take calls after 5pm, you always leave early on Friday, or whatever...) it's a lot easier for them to get used to it.  I know that this is harder in certain occupations than others, but just making sure you prioritize your family or your down time from day one will remind you and the people that you work with that you deem motherhood (and your sanity) a top priority.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned so far in being a working mom?

That my kids will be okay.  There's definitely mom guilt when I see some friends who have more time to take their kids to special events or to work on some cool craft, but I have to remember that all types of parenting is great and that we are all doing the best that we can.  I also love hearing my boys talk about their mom who 'builds cool buildings'.  It makes me happy that they know that I am a smart and hard working woman.  And even though they are with the nanny or at school most of the day, mom and dad are there every night for dinner, books and snuggling. 

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Friends, I hope you've enjoyed hearing from Alison - and by the way, isn't her work stunning?!  Check out her Facebook page to see more pictures of her work:  facebook.com/alisonhallarchitect.

Early Retirement

If money were no object and you could do anything in the world you wanted, what would you do with your life?

Chris asked me that very question after my dad died 3.5 years ago, and the answer was easy: I'd take a ton of art classes, paint all day, and become an artist and interior designer. He's has been trying to talk me into doing this ever since our conversation, but honestly, I've been afraid. 

Finally, I'm doing it. As of June 1st, I'll be a full-time artist and interior designer.

I can still remember the exact blend of tempura paint and clay that gave my elementary art room it's distinct smell. All through school, art was my favorite class - I lived for the days we had art because I enjoyed the freedom and excitement in creating something. I even considered studying studio art in college, but I didn't because it just "wasn't practical." Not that practicality has ever stopped me from doing anything before... but this time, it did.

So what happened? Well, I think I heard the phrase "starving artist" one too many times, and my love of tacos and fear of starvation forced me into a different career path. I mean, a girl's gotta eat, right? In all seriousness, I was afraid. What if I'm not really that good? What if no one likes my art? What if I fail? What if I don't make any money? What if people talk about me? What if... what if...

I've let negative self-talk and self-doubt hold me back for YEARS, and now I'm taking a GIANT leap of faith to create a life doing something I've dreamed of doing my entire life. I love teaching elementary school and I know I'll miss my sweet students, but I have to do this. Not just for me, but for my girls. I want them to see that at 33 years old, their mother stepped out into the unknown and was brave enough to follow her dreams.

Forgetting failure, focusing on success.

Ignoring negativity, allowing only love.

Leaving behind self-doubt, believing in myself. 

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