(my old profile shot which is way more murky and mysterious than how I show myself now)
Last week I had an “a-ha” moment…I realized that my life’s work of helping women become more visible with their style was a direct result of my own struggle with the feeling of being invisible. I was the shy wallflower in junior high who wanted to be with the “in” clique. When classmates paraded around bragging that they had every ESPRIT outfit that was ever made, I felt “lesser than.” Instead of copying what the others were doing, I began to do my own thing with style and fashion. That was how it all began.
I was an original and experimented with an 80’s interchangeable clothing line called “Multiples;” It included baggy harem pants, and wearing tube skirts as belts. Since then, I’ve used clothing to speak for me to avoid the awkwardness that can come from talking and projecting myself beyond my wardrobe, which has always been a big challenge.
When I first started to put myself “out there” online, it took me a while to become comfortable. I spent three years building and running ProveReal.com, a website that documented fashion and nightlife – a cross between First View and Patrick McMullen (but this was back in 1999, well before these two existed). I was totally ahead of my time and was a leader before we even used the buzzword “blog.”
Unfortunately, I was too shy to toot my own horn and try to get any press, backing, or even revenue. I would do most of the photography myself, and felt more comfortable being the shooter and documenting the “work”. As many of you know, staying safe behind the lens was another way of being invisible to the world. My favorite way to take pictures was to be sly about it, like a spy, so that the subject wasn’t even aware that I was taking their picture. It took me a while to step out from the shadows, put down my camera, and be the subject in the photo.
When I moved to NYC I ended up shuttering ProveReal, and in 2008, I started my own blog. It was called “Confession of a Young, Old-Fashioned Girl,” and I vented about dating, shared funny travel stories, and also talked about style.
Still, I wasn’t comfortable being front-and-center; I didn’t put my name on my blog and made it password-protected, so basically it was for my eyes only. The good thing is that I got all the venting and negativity out before I went public. The more I blogged for myself, the more I narrowed my focus.
When I realized that the blog was never going to be a moneymaker, but that it could be part of my marketing as a fashion stylist, the purpose became clear: I was to write about style and ditch all the “angsty” stuff.
I still share from my perspective and let my personality shine through, but the blog is completely focused on style – whether it’s discovering it through a Pinterest board, teaching others how to make smart purchases, sharing ideas from other pros, or offering advice on style based on my experiences.
Back in 2008, I also created a professional website with the sole purpose of featuring my fashion styling portfolio. The first incarnation didn’t have any pictures of me, just of my work. When I realized a photo of me could only make my professional image stronger, I hired one of my photographers to take pictures of me in front of rack of clothing and hired my friend Agata Helena to do my hair and makeup.
The shots came out great (except for the hanger coming out of my head – I wish I had my own fashion stylist on set to catch that one!). Once I posted the photo of me on my contact page, I received an immediate flood of television show opportunities. The responses came literally overnight.
Finally, the light bulb went off inside my head that the more the world saw ME, the better it would be for my career. I have found that to be the case all the time. When I dug deep and invested in a promo video for my main page of my site, it catapulted my business and media exposure. Every time I’ve stepped my visibility up a notch, life has stepped up too.
How can you say goodbye to your fear being “visible” to others and let the world into your life? Go out there and show the best sides of the real you.
Have you struggled with showing all sides of yourself online? I would love to hear how you show up for yourself and your business.
And if this post resonates with you please check out my free style video series + my program,
Six Figure Style.
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