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5 Stylist Tips For Smarter Shopping

Lifestyle

Building a versatile wardrobe is important for every busy gal - because when your wardrobe is optimized, your whole world can change. You’ll get dressed easier, you’ll look more refined and polished, and you’ll have no trouble transitioning from business meetings to after-hours events. To get to that level of wardrobe clarity, a bit of shopping is required, which might be frustrating and tedious - especially if you are tight on time and/or budget.


My job as a Wardrobe Stylist and Personal Shopper is to help my clients find the ideal pieces for their curated wardrobes without breaking the bank, and I also spend a lot of time teaching my clients valuable techniques on how to make shopping more stress-free, efficient and even (gasp!) fun.

I’m sharing 5 of my favorite Stylist Shopping Secrets, so take a read – and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

If you’re looking to create a robust wardrobe and don’t know where to start, be sure to check out my article, “How to Build a Wardrobe for Success: “Lusts” and “Musts” to make your closet complete”.

1

ACE THE LIST

It’s very easy to get distracted if you start shopping with no particular goals in mind. You can wander aimlessly for hours, feeling uninspired without finding anything you love, or worse, you could end up buying random items you won’t easily be able to incorporate into your existing wardrobe. When you go grocery shopping, you usually make a list, don’t you? Well, I recommend applying the same planning strategy to your clothing shopping.

One good way to start building this list is by going through your existing wardrobe, and looking at what you own with a critical eye. Ask yourself: how often do I wear each piece? Does it fit with at least 3 other pieces in my wardrobe? Do I love the way I feel when I wear it? What accessory do I need to make this outfit feel & look complete?

This exercise helps you identify the missing pieces – so you can start jotting down your “needs and wants” list (which you can keep digitally or in a pretty notebook – whatever inspires you). This list should grow with seasonal items, trendy pieces you see celebs and Instagram bloggers showing off, and any items that you need to replace because they’re getting a lot of wear. List-building is a process, so the earlier you start, the more efficient your shopping will be the next time you go. I also find it helpful to make notes on the “priority level” of the items on your list, along with the budget you want to allocate to each item and any other specifics you want to look for (for example, red suede pumps to go with your green skirt). The next time you find yourself in the store, whip out your list and cross-reference it with what you’re eyeing - it will help you stay on course and be more objective with your purchases.

2

START WITH A VIRTUAL “WINDOW SHOP”

If you’re not a patient shopper, if you’re time-starved, or if shopping is just not your thing, it’s good to think of ways to alleviate the stress of the experience to make it more efficient. One of my favorite tips is to familiarize yourself with brands you love and follow them online to eye their inventory and new arrivals - before actually heading into their stores. One great thing about virtual shopping is that you can do it from the comfort of your couch (with glass of wine in hand), and you can check out all the details up close at your own pace. Plus, some sites even give you suggestions to help you create outfits. Virtual window shopping allows you to come up with a plan of what you’d like to try on in the stores, so that when you arrive, you’re not wasting time walking around, but rather enlisting the help of a knowledgeable sales associate to round up the items for you. PRO TIP: print out the list of items you want to focus on and bring it along so you can more quickly head to the dressing room.

3

WORK THOSE PERKS

Waiting for items to go on sale may not always work for you. In this case, I recommend a few other tactics to score better pricing. Some stores have loyalty/birthday programs, offering special discounts the month of your birthday (here’s looking at you, Anthro), or they may offer special perks like free shipping, tailoring and reward points for your purchases – which can add up to gift cards and gifts with purchase down the line (like Bloomingdales Loyalist).

Signing up to these in advance of your shopping spree is a great idea – as you’ll also receive notifications of special promotions, new arrivals and outfit inspirations.

4

USE YOUR VIRTUAL SHOPPING CART

To uncover savings, while you’re looking online at your favorite shopping sites, it’s a great idea to pop the items you’re considering into your cart or wish list. Not only will this become your “Shopping List” for that particular store, it will also allow you to track the prices for some of the items you’re lusting after, as any markdowns or sales will be reflected in the shopping cart when you refresh it periodically. This mostly applies to items that are not an immediate priority on your list, or when you’re willing to wait until they go on sale. Your patience will be rewarded and you can reap some mega savings with this technique.

5

SAVE SOME LEGWORK

To reduce the time you spend shopping, one thing I recommend is to call the store nearest to you in advance, and ask a sales associate to find the items you’re looking for, confirm they are in stock and then place them on hold (most stores will hold items for 24-48 hours, or at the very least till end of day). This way when you arrive at the store, your clothes will be waiting for you to try on – and you can save time that you would have spent walking around the store hunting (plus you’ll be sure your sizes are available). Additionally, most stores can search inventory across all their locations to check for sizes and availability - so if an item isn’t available at your local store, they’ll give you a list of other stores that might have it, or maybe even ship it to you (sometimes at little or no cost).

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Business

#MyStartupStory: I Fought the Pivot and the Pivot Won

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.