Meet Karen: Mom of 2, community leader and office manager in New York City.
I met Karen 9 years ago at a PTA meeting. She convinced me to be class mom, sign up to co-chair the book fair, and participate in the bake sale all in the same meeting. I always joked that she was the unofficial mayor of our town. I would burst into fits of laughter during our style sessions because of her quick wit and hilarious jokes.
A few years ago her husband hired me as a mother’s day gift. Brian told me that his wife was putting everyone’s needs ahead of her own, and she unhappy with her wardrobe. He would take her to stores only to have her come home hours later completely overwhelmed and frustrated.
We determined that my SORT, SHOP, STYLE service was exactly what Karen needed to help bring back her sparkle.
Little did I know, it would take three years for her transformation.
My Initial Style Assessment
Karen had a ton of clothes. Many that were at least 10 years old and worn down. She tried to hide her body by wearing clothes that were too big for her, like many women.
Karen's clothes did a huge disservice to her and lacked personality.
Her wardrobe didn’t resonate with the outgoing and vivacious woman she is. The staples of button-down shirts no longer worked for her current job as an office manager in NYC.
Her shoe collection needed a major upgrade. She was hard on her shoes but also had plantar fasciitis so she needed to be able to handle being on her feet for hours. Shoes were a must-buy for our SHOP session.
She had a habit of shopping at outlets and Costco so this resulted in poor quality clothes that lacked a proper fit.
Karen had to make a conscious choice to spend money on herself.
After our SORT session, she realized that with an aging parent, health issues of her own and the realization that the service required some healing work from the inside, she decided to take a pause. I knew how much Karen needed the service so I was disappointed at first, but discovering your personal style should be fun, not stressful.
I always say I'm not in the styling business, I'm in the self-care business.
Every few months she would send me a text or an email telling me she was proud of me and that she wasn’t giving up on her style. Two years later, she called me to say that she was ready to continue.
The SHOP session
Karen’s budget was tight so I had to maximize every dollar. I found pieces for her whole life, not just one part. Her strategic shopping list consisted of lightweight sweaters, jeans, work pants, well-fitted tops, and 5 pairs of shoes.
I pulled pieces that worked for her part-time office manager job in New York City as well as her days at home carpooling her kids.
My 1st SHOP session with clients is focused on high-quality power pieces. These are items that can be worn in multiple ways. I stuck to a fairly neutral color palette that was easy to mix and match but infused merlot and basil green which complimented her skin tone.
This is what I pulled for her to try on. It was Fall 2018, and I wanted her wardrobe to look of the moment and classic comfortable which is her style personality.
Next stop - shoes.
I pulled a variety of options including boots, dressy flats and casual sneakers for her commute. I have a rule that we only shop for high-quality shoes so this required a bigger investment out of her budget. Karen was committed to spending this money even though she was unsure if they were worth it. She had to trust me.
Karen’s new clothes better reflect her bubbly personality and show off her figure. Her friend texted me with tears in her eyes when Karen did a fashion show with the new clothes. The sparkle in her eyes was back.
Meet Karen: From Her Perspective
Finding My Way Back To Me
I hate the word JUST.
How many times have you heard, "JUST put your own oxygen mask on first"? "JUST make time for yourself."
When you’re running on 6 hours of sleep (if you're lucky) juggling a house, perhaps children, a spouse ... "JUST" becomes infuriating. I'm not saying that having Neepa’s friendship and services changed my entire life.
But I can say, it was the game-changer that forced my first steps on the road to remembering who I am and discovering a new person.
When I first started my journey to my reintroduction, it was about 3 years ago. I was chatting with Neepa about her work. My husband loved this idea and purchased the SORT SHOP STYLE as a mother’s day gift. After a couple of conversations, I discovered that this process was to be an intense concentration on myself, which I clearly wasn't ready for!
When you’re juggling 2 young children, their schools, the PTA, food shopping, meal planning a lovely but rambling home, an aging parent, sports, extracurriculars, a job and a spouse in public education who is gone for 13+ hours a day, focusing on yourself has a big price tag. It meant I'm taking time away from my family.
My “me” time was a shower. Now I’d like me to focus on my WARDROBE. Better still, this meant I had to face my aging and heavy body. Having children put an extra 30 lbs on that refused to leave like a bad houseguest. And you want me to put on new pants and look at my fat butt and make a decision if I should BUY those NO WAY!!
And It didn’t help that my body was having health issues. And old back injury was flaring, a torn knee meniscus and a sick family member had me place Neepa on a very back burner.
Luckily, I happened to share some personal vulnerabilities with a friend who recommended a plan to start a self-care journey including meditation, yoga, practicing guided mindfulness, and gratitude. Healing from the inside out.
This was not an overnight journey. It's been three long years. Fortunately, I had this self-reflection so I was able to start asking for help.
Oh, the purge was a wonderful thing. Neepa ended up taking away 6 bags of clothing that I've held onto for years. I can't say that I was a hoarder, but well, maybe a bit. Why take the time to look at my clothes??
Well, the process slowed for a long time. I wasn't ready. My body wasn't ready. My psyche wasn't ready to accept that I needed all these changes. A good two years later, one of my closest friends came to help me with a second purge. I tried on clothes for her and she made a discovery that even I don't think I was aware of.
She said to me “Oh now I understand, you’re clothes are so big and flowy, there's nothing tight fitting. You’re hiding and you don't want to be seen.” She said it with love and kindness. I realized she was right.
I had been told time and time again, the longer I take to lose the weight the harder it's going to be as I move towards those menopausal years that turn your metabolism into wet cement. They were right, after hard work and concentration and losing 10 pounds, my brain started to turn around to say maybe there is a little bit of space for me here.
I was finally ready to dive into shopping, which was a good 2 years after I started with Neepa. Talk about having kindness, love, and patience to stick with me during this time. You can think of Neepa as your own therapist which you don't have to claim on your insurance!
Now, I’m not a lady who lunches. Or who knows the latest styles other than what I can glance at in a fashion magazine while waiting in a pediatrician’s office. Neepa and I FINALLY made a date at the mall and what a day we had! It was intensive but exhilarating. All the clothes were already waiting for me in a fitting room to try on. Someone was taking care of me!
Neepa knew my body, better than I knew myself.
I would try on something and I felt a slight tingle or spark of joy happening as I saw how I looked together, organized. She was ok with things that I wasn’t comfortable with but definitely made me go outside of my comfort zone. If we’re not being pushed if were not being made to grasp or reach higher than we’re not going to grow.
Oh, don’t get me wrong there have been serious setbacks. It took me several more months to finally do the style session because there was going to be actual proof, pictures showing me who I am now. Daunting! But the joy and excitement in Neepa's face as we tried on outfit after outfit was like that kind aunt you had who always told you no matter what you looked like, you were so beautiful and so worthy. Yeah, baby!
Sharing these insights isn’t easy but I’ve recently been listening to Brene Brown’s "Power of Vulnerability". I realized that my rocky journey could shed a little bit of light and just an ounce of hope for some people who feel stuck or a little hopeless. Who doesn’t like a makeover story? It’s why there are rom-coms and self-help shows on how to change your house, your looks, your hair your clothes.
People love transformation but it’s easier looking on the outside in. It’s difficult when you have to stare in the mirror and make that change. Allowing Neepa to be a guiding hand in the rediscovery of you, can be one step in that journey. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” is so true. Whether it’s a big or small, movement is movement!
“Though it took me a long time to make a style transformation, it was so worth it. Time is a constant crunch, it's easy to “steal time” from your own needs. I thought if I don’t have time to get to the gym, how could I justify trying on clothes. But when you like how you look IN your clothes, you WANT to go to the gym and look and feel better. When you look and feel better, you bring that energy and positive vibes back to your family. You’ve heard this before but you seriously need to put the oxygen mask on yourself 1st. Neepa is an integral part of that oxygen mask."
My Final Thoughts
Tears well up in my eyes when I see Karen now. I’m so proud that she didn’t give up on her style. I wanted Karen to share her story because it's the same one I witness over and over again. It requires a conscious effort to practice self-care. I’m guilty of it myself, but if we take those little moments here and there on ourselves, imagine the possibilities.
To learn more about the service Karen used, click here.
Ready to transform your style, let’s set up a personal style strategy call to learn more.