Article by Ceri Wheeldon
We have been living through unprecedented times as the world has had to navigate the pandemic, with many experiencing job losses as a result. 813,000 jobs have disappeared since the start , 171,000 of those jobs are in retail which primarily affects women.
Although retailers are now able to trade again, many familiar names have closed on the high street – a walk through my local town highlights many empty units with fashion and cosmetics seeming to take the brunt of closures.
So what are the options for those looking for employment? I often talk about transferrable skills.
Those who are used to working with the public generally have excellent communication skills that are well suited to a customer services environment and companies in financial services and insurance particularly are recognising the value mature workers are able to bring to this area.
An opportunity to follow your passion for clothes and become a stylist
But what if you want to take this enforced change as an opportunity to follow your passion?
I just happened to have Nicky Hambleton Jones pop into my instagram feed as I was thinking about potential options ( my thoughts were regarding those who had lost roles in retail) where she was talking about her new online stylist training programme. Nicky and I had done a little work together in the early days of Fab after Fifty and she was more than happy to hop on a call with me to chat about the feasibility.
We agreed that becoming a personal stylist was definitely a viable option for those who were happy to consider becoming self employed – they already had an interest in fashion and were used to helping women make clothing selections where they would look and feel good. Indeed for those who were still looking to find another job in fashion retail completing a course like this could give them a competitive edge. For retailers to survive on the high street they are going to have to improve the customer experience, and so those who employ individuals who can provide value added style tips to customers will have the edge.
Traditionally Nicky has offered her courses in London face to face, but she recognised that this obviously wasn’t an option during lockdown and so put together an online version – which is also a lot cheaper!!
I asked if any of her students were over 50 , as I would love to understand more about what led them to take the step to become a personal stylist. All four of the enthusiastic women I spoke to had been affected by the pandemic – although as it happens none had been in retail, but all were pleased to have made the decision to do something different and transition into style.
Julie Stevens took the NHJ styling course in February. Julie had always loved clothes, fashion and style and loves the confidence that being well presented can bring. Julie was working in corporate sales in the food ingredients market when the pandemic hit. With venues closing sales were down and Julie found being micro managed during lockdown too stressful. She decided to walk away from her 20 year career and do something she was passionate about. Julie was aware of Nicky from her 10 Years Younger series and so having done some research decided to sign up for the 6 Weeks To Stylist Course. Julie describes as a joy to do, and loved connecting with and interacting with other like minded women in the online group. She learnt so much about trends, body shape, the importance of a good bra fitting, and found the module on setting up a business particularly valuable. Perhaps because she has a background in sales Julie really has hit the ground running. She already has clients have networked and set up a facebook page, offering a styling session as a prize in a charity raffle to get her name ‘out there’. As Julie says, she is happy to try different things – the worst that can happen is that people will say no!
What challenges? One of the challenges that Julie is facing is determining her pricing in our post pandemic world, and reassuring clients that using her services does not mean decimating their wardrobe and buying all new as she will help them to create more looks with what they have. She also will help them to sell on those items they no longer wear so they can put funds towards investment pieces in the future.
Julie can be contacted at:
Michelle Piff is 53 , and having worked since the age of 15 and never having taken any time off , at the start of the pandemic her income came to an abrupt halt. Michelle was a hairdresser who had arranged her business so that she could work from home, initially to resolve childcare issues as she raised her son, and more recently to be on hand to look after her father who now lives with her following a dementia diagnosis. She fell through the gap re eligibility for any employment funding schemes. At the start of lockdown it was a bit of a novelty – especially as the weather was lovely, but her husband was busy working and her son was revising for his GCSEs and by week three Michelle felt her mental health start to change. She knew she had to do something…other than more housework!! Michelle researched the various styling franchises but felt they weren’t right for her. She had always watched 10 Years Younger with Nicky Hambleton Jones and thought the course was really good value so signed up. Michelle loved it.
After finishing the course Michelle set up a facebook page for her business. One of her first clients allowed her to post a before and after shot – it got 800 views which Michelle was thrilled about. One of her best decisions was to make it easy for people to buy her sessions as gifts. In addition Michelle is now arranging to give style talks at local salons – where the salon will take a percentage of any bookings. Michelle loves working with women who are coping with changing body shapes – having seen her own shape change due to weight gain, weight loss and menopause. She understands the issues. Doing the course has also given her more confidence in herself, although she still finds it challenging to have the confidence to put herself ‘out there’, especially online, and of course she has started her business with face to face services such as wardrobe edits not being allowed due to lockdown restrictions.
Michelle’s facebook page: Michelle colour & image consultant
Michelle can be found on instgram @Michellelifeincolour
Samantha Allner was working as a receptionist at a chiropracter’s when the pandemic started. She lost her job during lockdown as her boss switched everything to a paperless model and so now able to do the job for himself.
Samantha decided she wanted to prove to herself that she could do something different. Previously she hadn’t felt brave enough . She took some beauty courses and then decided to do a styling course. Samantha found the business module of the programme inspired her to want to set up her own business and to succeed. Samantha can now launch her styling business and incorporate beauty. She is a great believer in not being ‘too old’ to wear any item of clothing – you may just have to tweak the way that you wear it. She loved the modules on body shape and was inspired by the different ways you could put looks together.
For Samantha the challenge has been technology – setting up her website and getting started on social media and acknowledges she may need some help with this. She has been taking this step by step but is getting there, and hopes to have miabella.co.uk live soon .
Louise Bartsch has just had her milestone birthday. She doesn’t feel 50 and she believes her teenage children keep her young. Louise feels very fortunate that she was able to choose not to work while bringing up her children, and found the whole experience a happy one. Now the children are older she feels the time is right to take something on and find something new to do.
Louise has always loved clothes and shopping so becoming a personal stylist seemed to be the ideal option. She took the NHJ course during the second lockdown and describes it as transformative. She had looked at taking the intense personal styling course previously, but it just wasn’t practical to go to London for 5 full days when looking after her children, so she was really pleased when the online course was released. She admits to feeling overwhelmed during the first week, but soon really enjoyed both the course and connecting with the other women on it. She was able to overcome her own fear of mixing colour and prints!
She recognises the impact that the right clothes can have when it comes to making an entrance or dressing for dating websites and photos and wants to help other women. She wants to enable them to make the most of their wardrobes in a sustainable way.
Louise has changed her Instagram account from a personal one to a business one to start marketing herself and has been relying on word of mouth to generate interest. She sees one of her biggest challenges as staying on top of what’s available on the high street.
Taking the course has really boosted Louise’s confidence and she loved Nicky’s encouraging training style.
In fact all four of the ladies were so positive about Nicky’s support while taking the course and ongoing support since they have finished. All four excited about their new career choice.
In chatting to Nicky , she would like to make the programme as accessible as possible to women wanting to pursue a career in style and so is offering the option to a pay by 6 monthly instalments. The cost is usually £600 , but Nicky is offering Fab after Fifty readers a discount of 10%.
I want to stress that this is not an advertisement and I am not being paid to promote the NHJ Style course!! I am however passionate about women over 50 being able to explore the best possible career options to work for as long as they choose to or need to.
Louise can be found on instagram @Loulovestyle or contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org,
Six Weeks To Stylist Course
This is an online personal styling course that runs over 6 weeks, students have lifetime access to the private Facebook group. I do a LIVE masterclass once a week to talk through and demonstrate the module for that week. Students are set specific homework tasks and which they upload into the private Facebook group for review and critiquing by me. At the end of the course you receive a certificate from me and the NHJ Style Academy.
Start date: 10th May
Price: £600 or £100/month for Six Months
Discount: 10% off with code FAF