As a one-woman business owner and entrepreneur, I’m very aware of the challenges that we women sometimes face when trying to close the gap between being approachable (feminine, authentic, soft, compassionate) and authoritative (strong, powerful, no-nonsense).
This conversation often comes up with my styling clients, because we focus a lot of time on image perception and managing the way we all come across through various style & wardrobe elements. In my one-on-one styling sessions, I focus on teaching my clients how to understand and manipulate style elements to create a unique personal image and wardrobe - that’s equal parts powerful and authentic.
Over the years, I’ve come up with a growing list of styling tricks to have at your disposal that help “turn up the power” in your look when you need it - especially on those days when you have a big event/interview/presentation.
This list is especially handy if you naturally come across as someone who is very open and approachable but crave to be taken more seriously and want to dress in way that’s more polished and authoritative.
Check out 5 of my favorite tips below:
Swap out curved necklines for straight in your tops and blazers.
One of the style ingredients at our disposal is the element of line. Lines appear in our faces and bodies naturally (eye line, eyebrow line, face shape line, hip line, waist line, etc.). Straight/strong/vertical lines come across as more authoritative and they can significantly increase the power quotient of your outfit.
In one example, wearing a blouse with a slight v-neckline and pairing it with a blazer with angular lapels will accentuate the angles of your facial features and send the message of confidence.
Choose dark, contrasting colors over light and muted ones.
Color is another style element that affects the way we’re perceived by others. Dark and contrasting colors add authoritativeness to your look as they read as stronger and more pulled-together (and more masculine). If you have very fair features with little to no contrast, then the true black (jet black) might feel too harsh, so go for a grayish black or dark brown.
Wearing your hair pulled back or straight.
Straight hair sends the message of authority (and hair is one of the easiest details to change up in your look). Pulling your hair back or up (in a tall bun or ponytail) can add a touch of polish and will also expose any angularity your face might have, like a strong jaw or nose. Curls and waves, while girly and fun, can read too approachable – so saving those for your every-day look and going for more height/straightness will add the needed confidence boost on your “power days”. If your hair is naturally very curly and straightening it is not easy, pulling it back into a bun will do the trick.
Heels versus flats.
We all know that flats are comfortable, but It’s amazing how much a few inches can help you in the confidence department. Heels make you walk differently – balancing your body straighter and taller, pulling all the outfit elements together. Additionally, heels physically give you more height, so especially if you’re on the petite side, this gives you more authority through the power of strong/vertical line.
Column of Color Effect:
Dina Scherer with a client by Rachel Doughty
This is one of the biggest secrets in the stylist tool box. The idea of a “column of color” is that you create an outfit of similar shades/tones from head to toe with no obvious harsh color break (like the point where your red top and green pants meet, for example). Wearing all black is one example, but you can also achieve this by combining similar shades of any one color in one outfit. This effect elongates your figure while simultaneously adding height because it keeps the eye moving up and down, not having it stop on any color break. It can also eliminate many proportion challenges (like ending a hemline in a place where it cuts you in an unflattering way), and makes your look pulled-together and professional.
Hope you have fun playing around with these style suggestions, incorporating them into your look and feeling your outfit power turning up!
To see more of my styling tips & fashion inspirations, follow me on Instagram.
Pivot: the word every entrepreneur dreads. When a business owner thinks of the word pivot it brings immediate anxiety and stress. Even before we made the decision to pivot, whenever an entrepreneur would tell me that they had "pivoted" I would congratulate them externally but then begin to judge. I would feel, obviously, bad for them because in my mind I viewed it as a failure.
Why does one pivot? One pivots because either what they are doing is not working at all or simply not growing fast enough to reach the next stage in the life cycle of business. Many times, entrepreneurs don't pivot fast enough because they're so in love with their original idea that they can't see the forest from the trees. I get it. It's your baby, your dream, your company. The market should want it. Right? Customers should buy it. Right? You should experience explosive growth. Right? Yes and no. Yes, if your timing is right and all your stars are aligned. No, if you're fighting against the stream wanting the market to listen to you when you are not listening to the market. You know that children's song, row row row your boat gently down the stream? That's a metaphor on life. You want your business to go with what the market is telling you and not against it. Row your boat gently down the market stream and you'll get there much faster.
Before I get into our pivot, it's important to explain how we got there and how our journey began. I had a long career on Wall Street, but I always longed for my own business. I just wasn't sure what that was going to look like. One night over drinks my best friend Leslie and I were discussing the ridiculous amounts of money we were spending on our hair extensions. When I mean ridiculous, I am talking either pay your rent or get your hair did ridiculous. I always say we were so skinny back in those days because we were more likely to spend money on hair than food! But then the lightbulb went off. That's how Lux Beauty Club was born.
We thought, "We're smart, we can figure this out." We started sourcing our hair from various suppliers in China until we found a consistent one, and then we were off. We started selling it to our friends and salons around the city, which then grew to a full-blown side hustle. We had people coming at all hours of the night to our apartment for hair emergencies. I think our landlord must have thought we were selling drugs! Thankfully he was kind enough to simply leave us alone. A few months later we put up a website and we continued growing organically at a steady pace, and once we got on Amazon our sales doubled. We were rocking and rolling until two very significant things happened. Well, three really. Competition got stronger with every influencer "owning" their brand of extensions, Amazon allowing the Chinese to flood their marketplace and most importantly, our consistent quality suppliers started to cut corners and dilute the product. We had been watching a competitor raise millions from venture capitalist firms and, of course, the company was run by three dudes selling weaves to black women. But they, too, started to have major problems with their sources from China. They were getting crushed by terrible reviews, at that moment I knew we had to make a change. It took us months to find a supplier elsewhere that believed in us and would want to do business with us. And, most importantly, still allow us to be competitive. We knew it was imperative we got the source: India.
Now, as all this was happening, I was also spending the majority of my time fundraising for the company. The few investors that came on initially got it immediately, but for the rest it was like banging my head against the wall to get these mostly white VC men to understand the market opportunity. Even, most "female-focused" VCs were a challenge for us. We managed to survive with our angel investors and for them I am eternally grateful.
Once we switched our entire supply chain to India, the quality was a game changer. Although not perfect, we were lucky that we were still small and able to make that change early on. The guys that raised millions, not sure how they would manage. We did have to increase our prices a bit, but we didn't think that would matter. But in the end, it really did. We found that although the customer was getting the best quality for a little bit more, they didn't care. They still wanted the cheap stuff. Oh, and Amazon? Our sales were dropping even there since they were offering hair extensions for $14 dollars. We couldn't compete with that. The signs kept on coming and coming. Our basket at checkout were over 250 dollars, but we didn't have the heavy customer acquisition dollars to fight the fight. Our Indian supplier was incredible, but you have to remember, human hair is still a human, living thing. No matter how great your quality control, there is always going to be problems.
At this point, my business partner Leslie and I had our come-to-Jesus moment one afternoon. After listing the pros and cons of our business and the constant issues, we knew it was time to change. It was time to SWAAY the narrative.
We had both been wearing hair extensions for years, but because of thinning hair we had recently started using holistic products to help our own hair grow thicker, taking a break from the extensions. We had also both been experimenting with CBD oil for its various benefits, and we had hooked our families on it as well. That's when we had our second a-ha moment. By tackling the issue at the root (ahem) of the problem by taking a holistic approach to hair and beauty. It was a winning combination. I mean, beauty comes from within after all so why not package it that way! Fueling the inside not only benefits your inner self, but it also improves the outer byproduct (hair, skin and nails). It is life changing.
Leslie is a registered nurse so she set out formulating our blends with scientists to ensure we had the perfect elements, vitamins and levels for dosage. We were making truly organic 100% CBD infused products for women by women. It was like a light switch had turned on and we could see clearly. Since the "pivot" we have experienced explosive growth through distributors, salons and our very own customer base. We found she was as loyal as they come. Because after all, who doesn't love CBD? The benefits are tremendous, and we use our products every day. I find solace in knowing our offering is so well-rounded now; the pivot was worth it. We are now rowing gently down the stream and not against the current. It's a product that has a very low return rate since there are zero issues on color, quality, or anything of that sort. But most importantly, I can sleep now for a number of reasons. It has been much easier to fund investors that understand our space and want to invest. Wholesale orders have been growing everyday via our network and we are even in talks for licensing deals. But our Sleeping Beauty product has also helped my mood and sleep as well. Shameful plug.
My journey was a necessary one, and though it has been littered with disappointing ups and downs, we wouldn't change it for the world. Why? Because we learned so much on how to build a CPG company that now just happens to sell CBD products. Without that knowledge, we wouldn't have been able to move so quickly. It takes people years to create packaging, formulas, strategy. We did what couldn't be done in 6 months. Experts told us it would take 36 months and be very costly, we knew that was all bullshit. We had the team, the knowledge and now the perfect product. No, has always fueled us but the yesses feel pretty good now.
So, I say to all those out there, if you feel a pivot coming on embrace it; go full steam ahead, jump fully in and listen, fully pay attention. After all you are the one standing in the way of your success.