This week’s Ms New Brunswick is Amanda Hanson, owner of simplySTYLISH, a personal styling business that helps women learn to dress confidently and find body positivity. Amanda is passionate about clothing and its power to make us feel confident and beautiful. I spoke with her for several hours, and I could immediately tell why she would be so good at her job. Yes, she was dressed immaculately, but more importantly, she was enthusiastic - practically giddy - about the opportunities she's had to help women find confidence in their own skin. Her reviews online tell a similar story. She's a caring and thoughtful woman who genuinely wants you to feel good about what you're wearing. Not surprisingly at all, she wanted to giveaway a 2 hour styling session to a reader of this post. To enter head over to my Instagram.
Tell me about simplySTYLISH.
simplySTYLISH is my personal styling business that helps women. That's my biggest goal is just to help women who are struggling with body image, self confidence, or whatever they're going through. And I do this through helping them put outfits together and learn how to dress and shop for their body type. I see so many women whose kids have closets full of new clothes and they have nothing to wear themselves. I see women whose bodies have been changed by motherhood, cancer or time and they lack the confidence and knowledge to dress their new shape. I see women who are so low on their own priority list that they can't even remember the last time they bought themselves an item of clothing. I'm here to teach women how to shop or dress or put together an outfit, but its really more than that. It's funny because, it's so much more than clothing, but it is all about clothing too. I feel like what we wear does have power over how we feel, and how we dress says something about us. You would be surprised how much confidence you can gain from putting on an outfit you feel amazing in. It's not about what you look like really, it's about how you feel, and I want to help women feel amazing about themselves. My business is about confidence, not the clothes.
My services include wardrobe styling, consulting and purging, outfit selection and I'll even come shopping with you!
How did you get started?
After a long career working with children with autism, and while I loved what I did and truly felt like I was helping most of the time, I burned out. I decided to scale back, and stay home with my daughter for awhile and work part time for my husband's business. I felt like I had just replaced one bad fitting job with another. About a year ago a woman in my local Buy Nothing group posted that she needed help going through her closet and finding outfits to wear. She felt like she had a ton of clothes but nothing to wear (don't we all). I had always had an interest in clothing and styling and I volunteered to help her out. We spent three hours together, and she told me, "oh my gosh you have to do this for a living!". I thought about it, and for the first time in awhile I felt excited about something. It felt right.
A week later I was at the GirlBoss Saint John event getting all kinds of advice and inspiration from amazing women in our community. At the advice of someone at that event, I enrolled in Enterprise Saint John's venture validation program.
Has the community been supportive?
Yes, I have received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement from the community. A lot of my business relies on word of mouth. I get a ton of interest from the testimonials of my clients, and when women work with me, suddenly I get business from their friends and neighbors. Businesses in the area have been opening to working with me, and letting me bring clients to their spaces and shops. Some of them have even invited me in to teach classes or talk to customers or showcase my services in their shop. People in Saint John have been really open to networking with me and sharing my business with their friends and family and that has been amazing for me and helpful in growing my business.
How can we support you better?
Haha, book me!! Or if you don't have a need for me, consider telling your friends and family about me and my business. The best thing you can do for any small business - besides buy their product - is spread the word about them. I make a great gift too for the woman in your life who is frustrated she can never find anything to wear!
What is the biggest difficulty in your business?
Well like any new business, I think that the biggest difficulty is finding new clients or selling myself. Since I started in November I have worked with some amazing women, but I don't have a full client roster and I want to obviously. I have a hard time selling myself, it feels unnatural. Sometimes it's hard to manage your expectations and not feel like a failure when you are worried that you aren't busy enough. I work non-stop trying to ensure that I am providing a quality service, and while I have confidence in my product and my business, it's difficult to not let anxiety or fear of failing set in.
How do you balance work and personal life?
Well that's always a challenge. I have some flexibility in running my own business out of our home, but while I'm trying to build it I'm offering myself as available to clients at times that I would normally reserve for my family. I feel endless guilt about not working hard enough for the business and not being home or present enough with the kids. I try to remember that I'm teaching my daughter that you can do anything you want at any point in your life. I left a successful career to pursue something because I don't let fear rule me and I think that is good for her to see. I also block off the afternoons so that I am hanging out with the kids after school until my husband comes home, but I often work in the evenings. Is there a balance? Is there a point where you feel like you're doing enough? For your family and your business?
What piece of advice would you offer other women starting their own business?
Trust the process. Sometimes the scary stuff leads you down a path that you couldn't predict. Sometimes doing the scary thing is also the best thing. If you're unhappy, find a way out of it. You are in control of your own life and responsible for your own happiness. No one can do that for you. It's so important to be in touch with what you're feeling and what you need to do to get yourself out of a funk or even prevent yourself from getting into one. Practice mindful self-care rituals. Find your purpose and pursue it, and go forward with confidence!
How can we get in touch with you?
The Ms New Brunswick project is about taking a title back for all the women who really embody the heart and soul of our province through creative endeavours and entrepreneurship. The makers and doers who are sharing with us their time, energy and talents, and carrying us forward. Full-time or side hustle. Big or small. At home or in an office. Products or service. Crafters, moms, entrepreneurs, shop owners, consultants. Whatever. If there is a woman in our province giving life to an idea or product, I want to know about it.
If you or someone you know would be right for the Ms New Brunswick series please fill out the Nomination Form!