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Conversations with the Inspiring Susan Mowder

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Mowder.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Susan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Looking back, I was destined to have my own wardrobe styling business… unbeknownst to me!

For as long as I can remember, I have had a love for the “art of the outfit.” From a very young age, I was dressing…and accessorizing… myself, my dolls, the family dog, and anyone else who would heed my advice. Eager to expand my horizons, I discovered my mother’s sewing machine and learned about fit and design literally from the inside out. After pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees that would allow me to continue to hone my skills via coursework in textiles, tailoring, draping, and design, I realized I had discovered my passion, but not the right profession. In hindsight, my education was just beginning… next, the real world.

Working in both the teaching and corporate worlds, I observed that different outfits yielded different results. A “temporary” position at Nordstrom turned into five years and produced firsthand knowledge in the psychology of dressing… and a key introduction. For the next seven years, I traveled the country as a merchandiser for an upscale women’s clothing line, educating others on the art of dressing, while being educated on the business of the fashion industry. My education was now complete.

While helping a neighbor find the perfect outfit–from within her own closet–she shared she would gladly pay to have my keen perspective applied to her entire wardrobe. The STYLE Principle was born! Since 2009, I have had the pleasure of officially assisting others with refining and maximizing their wardrobes — clearing out the closet clutter, making the dressing and shopping processes more efficient and effective, and creating wardrobes that enable my clients to walk out the door looking and feeling fabulous… every day!

As my business has evolved, so has my speaking schedule. One of my most requested topics is Using Your Personal Image to Your Professional Advantage. In today’s world, there is no one right way to dress for success, but knowing what is right for you, your situation, and the desired outcome definitely gives you the edge.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
In business, as in life, the road will get a bit bumpy at times… but I’ve learned it’s best to ride it out and see where it goes. Early on, I figured out that the “dots eventually connect.” Often, you don’t know what you don’t know. When presented with an opportunity or an obstacle, I try to learn everything I can from each experience – good and bad. That knowledge has always benefited me when presented with a new opportunity or obstacle. Keep in mind, it may not present itself right away… but give it time. There are still a few “dots” that I can’t wait to see how they connect!

I started my business while still working another position in which most of my clients were out of state. I had no local network or client base. It was while working for the women’s clothing line, I observed that my initial look and demeanor was the key factor in how people viewed the product. If I was polished, professional, and personable, it was assumed the product was good quality and a smart investment. Fast forward to my need for clients–I used the same approach. When attending any function, I showed up as “style girl.” When the conversation came around to “what do you do?” – my response often earned an affirming head nod… and a request for my business card.

My advice to anyone wishing to start a business is to have a plan… but allow it to “breathe.” They say luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Sometimes, the opportunities may veer from your interpretation of the plan, but that may be a very good… and profitable… thing. I always thought speaking would be a way to promote my business, but instead, speaking for me has become a business in itself.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The STYLE Principle story. Tell us more about it.
I’ve always said, “dressing a body is a science, dressing a person is an art.” My business specializes in combining the two. The goal is a wardrobe that makes the client look and feel great where ever life may take them. We start in the closet, maximize what we can, clear out the clutter, then fill in where needed. Though shopping can be a part of the service, I’m not a shopping service. We will shop where ever is optimal—Armani to H&M–to achieve the client’s ideal wardrobe.

One of the things I am most proud of is that my business has grown strictly on referrals. A happy customer is the best advertisement! A few years back, two clients with very different styles happened to be having lunch. One complimented the other on her coat. She explained it was a recent purchase from our shopping session. The other person replied with a smile, “I work with her too!”

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
One of the best things I ever did for my business… and myself… was to get involved in networking groups. I once read–and have found it to be true–that a service provider has to connect with someone at least five times before they feel comfortable to buy. Networking has enabled me to connect… and, not just with potential clients. The groups have provided me with the opportunity to meet, get to know, and share ideas with fabulous women in other business industries as well.

If your interest is in wardrobe styling, I’d recommend getting a job at a store you love and learning how to dress people you don’t know. It is quite different than dressing your family and friends. You have to quickly figure out not just the customer’s clothing needs, but how the clothes need to make them feel. While working for Nordstrom, I encountered a woman in search of a specific outfit…which in my opinion, would not have been her best look. After chatting, I discovered the outfit was for a special date night and the goal was to embody her feminine, sexy side. I put together a figure flattering outfit different than what she’d originally requested. A few days later, she called. She shared her boyfriend said she looked beautiful and even other women complimented her. She still was feeling good… and I felt great!

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Image Credit:
Susan Mowder

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