VOYAGE ATL INTERVIEW
Today we’d like to introduce you to Lillian Charles.
Lillian, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Upon graduating from Agnes Scott College with degrees in Women Studies and French, my focus was to find a way to empower women to live authentic, healthy and stylish lives… and pay my bills using this skill set! After abandoning the idea of becoming a midwife, I started selling a trunk-show line of jewelry in July 2011.
At trunk shows, I would hear women express their concerns about their bodies or their lifestyles and why they felt they couldn’t wear certain trends or styles. Hearing these down-trodden discussions about body image and self-worth from women of all ages, sizes, income levels and races was huge. Style Therapy was born as a way to reach women in a unique and intimate one-on-one setting through in-home personal styling.
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?
Starting a business is no small feat! I was twenty-three years old when I established this consulting business and I was definitely still figuring out who I was as I learned the ropes of entrepreneurship. I am thankful to have had many of the same clients that I had in 2011, now.
Something I struggled with particularly in the beginning but less-so now is simply comparison. When you’re looking left and right for affirmation and all you’re really doing is measuring yourself up to someone who is just barely in the same field, you’ll never find what you’re looking for. There’s a fine line between drawing inspiration from others and completely tearing yourself down in comparison to other businesses. We are all on our own journeys accomplishing different things at different rates and impacting different peoples lives for different reasons.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Lillian Charles, style therapy story. Tell us more about the business.
I am known for taking a holistic, therapeutic approach to personal style. It is my job to listen and ask questions and then listen some more. I want to know the stories behind the clothes that hang in the wardrobe, why the items were purchased, how the woman felt in her interview suit, where she wore a vintage piece, what great achievement was accomplished wearing a particular outfit. We carve out what doesn’t work. I listen to my client’s concerns about her shape, size, frame, coloring, lifestyle, job and then I stand next to her in exploration-mode. How would you feel in XYZ? Have you tried ____ brand? Do you own any of this that or the other?
From there I help each client rebuild her personal brand and help her to get dressed in a way that she can be proud of, no matter what she does for a living. This might mean that I piece together her wardrobe differently so that she gets more wear out of what she owns or maybe she needs many new pieces and we shop!
Why I am proud of my work:
When you dress well, you restore dignity to whatever roles you play in life. The focus of my business is helping women be their absolute best starting with the first garment that they put on their bodies every morning. The way we dress our bodies is ultimately a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and has a great impact on how others perceive us. This work, Style Therapy, is life-changing.
Every time that a woman invests in style therapy, she invests in personal growth, she acknowledges her self-worth and she leans into her potential. This frequency-raising form of self-care is changing the way that people interact with one another, it stimulates the economy and produces a crop of powerful, whole, loving individuals in our community and beyond.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I have been lucky enough to come from a family of strong female role models. With every hit that has made me take a knee, I’ve learned something powerful and used the setback to propel me forward.
While I have pretty much completely supported myself along the way, financially, I could not have stuck with this business for as long as I have without the support of my family. My parents raised my siblings and I to believe that we are capable of anything that we set our minds to. There have been times when I’d call my parents and say, I just can’t do this, I can’t live in this uncertainty or this pressure or whatever and my parents would remind me that this isn’t just a job, this is Soul work, it’s my purpose.
I think my biggest stroke of “luck” has been having my parents be the parents that they are.
all photos courtesy of interviewee.
photography by Arnel Hasanovic and Ashton Songer