CINCINNATI -- Remember "What Not to Wear"?
The show, which aired on TLC from 2003 to 2013, featured Clinton Kelly and Stacey London, who helped clueless dressers by throwing out the ugly clothes in their wardrobes and taking them shopping -- the first step to a complete makeover.
Your Stylist LLC, a new business created by Mount Adams resident Jackie Neville, is a lot like that -- minus the snarky comments Kelly and London often made.
How does it work?
It starts with a free initial consultation and a questionnaire about the client's body type, her style personality, her color palette and the like. Then Neville does a "closet audit," in which she reviews the client's wardrobe and takes away what's not working.
Then she takes the client shopping at a store where she's already picked out several outfits and arranged for a fitting room. That way, the clients don't have to dig for sizes or deal with sales associates. The clients buy what they like and leave the rest.
Neville also offers a follow-up service for clients who need ongoing advice about putting outfits together. She sometimes even puts together books of pictures of outfits they can assemble using clothes in their new wardrobe.
"For some reason, once we get the wardrobe in the closet, they forget everything we've talked about," she said.
Why Your Stylist?
Neville began selling retail apparel in 1994, while she was still in high school. She continued for 22 years, working for various retailers and moving up in management, until she found herself missing the contact with customers she'd once had.
"I was trying to think of a way I could still help customers find their ideal wardrobe, but come to them instead," she said, without her having to worry about retail anymore.
So, in January 2016, she quit her job and started Your Stylist, with a bare minimum of startup costs. She created a website using freeware at Wix, and put the business on Thumbtack, an online listing of service companies. Within 30 days, she had her first clients.
How does she make money?
She charges $225 for a three-hour closet audit ($75 for each additional hour), $65 an hour for the shopping trip (plus $150 to get everything ready) and $75 per month for ongoing wardrobe help. She's making enough money to cover her expenses and salary, with a small profit.
She now has 25 clients, most of whom come back for repeat business, and she hopes to end the year with 50.
"She took me from looking really bad -- even though I was spending thousands of dollars (on clothing) -- to looking really put together -- really cheaply," said Hyde Park resident Amy Smith, who has been a client since February 2016.
"I'm so proud now when I go to work," said Smith, head of U.S. brokerage services and trade compliance at DHL Express. "She's made me want to exercise and eat better, because I look better."
Shopping for clothes is the last thing she wants to do when she gets home from work, Smith said.
"Having someone do that shopping for you who knows your size, who knows what looks good on you (so that) you just have to show up and buy it, is just so worth the money," she said.
Earning an entrepreneurship degree from Sinclair College in Dayton and graduating from the latest Launch class at Bad Girl Ventures, a Cincinnati business accelerator for women-owned businesses.
Neville plans to seek funding so that over the next 18 months, she can expand the business' 100-mile radius by hiring stylists in other cities so she can have clients in Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh. She'd also like to have studio space she can use as a training hub and as a place where clients can come for consultations.
What's the most rewarding part of the business?
Connecting with clients, building relationships and seeing "the relief on their faces that they don't have to stress out every morning when they get dressed."
"I love it," she said of her business. "I wish I would have done it sooner. I don't know if this region was ready … there's a misconception that stylists are only for celebrities, that it's a luxury … I'm here to bust that myth."