Style Elite is a personal shopping company offering styling and shopping solutions to men and women.
Founded by Zoe Huskisson in 2007, the London based company provides a range of services including personal shopping, wardrobe editing and a bespoke online gift concierge service.
Zoe’s expert styling has appeared on the pages of glossy fashion magazines and she’s currently writing her first novel, “Shopping Around.”
Why did you decide to start Style Elite?
I started the company as I was often asked for fashion advice from family and friends and thought I would turn my passion into a business venture. I had experience of editorial styling but wanted to make personal shopping more accessible to individuals and not just a service for celebrities.
What was your career path prior to starting your first business?
I graduated from The London College of Fashion with a BA (Hons) degree in Fashion Promotion Media. During my degree I completed work placements on publications including More, Options and Company magazine I specialised in journalism and freelanced for various publications including Pride magazine on a regular basis for almost three years.
My editorial work has appeared in various national and international publications. I also worked in television production as a researcher and assistant producer on an interiors programme.
I’ve styled and interviewed England’s first Muslim Miss World Hammasa Kohistani for Hello! magazine; Olympic athlete Denise Lewis, model and former Miss Black Britain Rachel Williams and UK singer Javine Hylton for editorial photo shoots. In 2007 I was the first regular fashion consultant on Colourful Radio providing insightful fashion tips and commentary to listeners.
Did you always know that you would start your own business?
I always wanted to start my own business because I am a creative person and was attracted to the flexibility of being my own boss.
Tell me more about the services you offer at Style Elite, which services are most in demand?
Style Elite offers a range of services including personal shopping, wardrobe editing and an online gift concierge. At the moment personal shopping is most in demand and a very popular present to wives and girlfriends for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and birthdays. Following a client consultation, personal shopping is conducted at the suites in Selfridges, Liberty, Joseph or another requested location.
The online gift concierge service was recently launched and is also proving to be popular with clients who require gift ideas inspiration. Clients email me their gift requirement including information regarding the recipient and within 48 hours they will receive a report detailing three suitable gift ideas containing images and contact details. This service is great if you are stuck on ideas for the person who has everything!
You’ve already worked with a number of well-known individuals, who would be your dream client and why?
Although I have a few fashion inspirations including Sarah Jessica Parker and Patricia Field I do not have a dream celebrity client. Many people see fashion as a fickle world but I have seen how clothes can transform someone physically as well as mentally. Some of my clients have low self esteem and I love that I inadvertently become their confidante as well as stylist during the shopping trips.
I remember one client who had won a competition to attend a red carpet film premiere but she had nothing to wear. During our four hour shopping trip it emerged that her boyfriend had been stabbed two years previously and she had stopped socialising and buying clothes. I am in no way suggesting that I took the place of a counsellor but she admitted that she found it easy to open up to me.
After her makeover she sent me a lovely email saying she loved her new look and felt that her confidence was slowly returning. I would say she was a dream client because I felt that I had had a small but positive impact on her life
What are you working on at the moment and can you describe your typical working day?
There is no such thing as a typical day! If I am not with clients I am catching up on emails, going to meetings and working on future projects. Style Elite will also be collaborating with a UK boutique hotel chain offering personal shopping packages later this year so I am also busy working on that.
I am currently working on the Teen Style Elite parties which will also launch this year. The parties are aimed at fashion conscious teens who want to celebrate their birthday or exam success in style. The party will be a fabulous night of fashion and beauty tips ending with their own fashion shoot. A professional photograph will be taken to mark the memorable day.
What have been the highlights of running your own business?
Being asked to participate in the Black 100 plus exhibition earlier this year was great as it a celebration of UK Black achievers. I was very proud to do this as previous participants include MOBO founder Kanya King MBE.
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
Like all working mothers trying to find the right work and home balance can sometimes be a challenge.
Obviously this is not a 9-5 job so I sometimes find it difficult to switch off and my husband is constantly saying I take on too much. However I actually think I work better when I have a few projects on the go.
What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
Strong women who are able to strive despite set backs. There are many people who inspire me including my mother. Now that I am a mother of two I fully appreciate how difficult it is being a working mum. My mum did this as a single mother and studied for a degree.
Cupcake Brown is an amazing woman who overcame each obstacle she encountered to become a success. I cannot recommend her book “A Piece of Cake” enough- it is so inspiring. It proves that there is always hope in any situation. Oprah Winfrey is another amazing lady. There are so many others that I have not mentioned but I will say I am always inspired by positive people.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Fast forward five years, where do you think your business will be in 2016?
In five years time Style Elite will continue to thrive and dispel the myth that personal shoppers are exclusively for the rich and famous. These days many people regularly have a personal beauty therapist or hair stylist and I want Style Elite to offer affordable styling services for anyone interested in their appearance.
I’m also currently writing my novel “Shopping Around” so watch this space!
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting a styling business?
Do your research and stay focused. Make as many contacts as you can and always be approachable. Surround yourself with positive people who can encourage you to reach your goals. Always believe in yourself and remember that you are capable of doing anything you want.
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For more information on Style Elite visit www.style-elite.com
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Zoe Huskisson was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.