A flexible career by design

Annabel Hayles

Annabel is a personal stylist.  Working for herself gives her a lot of flexibility. She stepped away from working in large corporates, to launch her own business six years ago.  This post tells her story.

Finding your personal style
My main idea is to help people to focus on their own personal style. Focus. Grow. Build. Understand … so that they look and feel how they want to and it expresses who they are.  That’s important in a personal sense, in a business sense. On a perception sense it’s how we feel about ourselves, how we are perceived by others. It’s also good to have an understanding of yourself and if you don’t feel like you have that and you’re not showing who you are, that can trouble people.

Flexibility by designFabric
One of the things I love about working for myself is the flexibility I can have. However, if I didn’t have a partner who supported me it would probably be different – especially early on. One of the reasons I wanted to start my own business was to have clients that I really enjoy and I wanted to be able to do it my way.

Evolving design career
I become a stylist after a culmination of many years in related industries and opportunities that have directed me, seeing and taking opportunities, and making slight changes in myself. It really was a growth process. The three different professions that I have been in all have complementary skill sets. The overarching thing is, it’s all about design. Design that fits, that works for a certain environment, place or person. That’s what personal styling is about. It’s finding the design that fits – that works – and making it work for that individual.

“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.”
~ Gianni Versace

A new world of work
One of the things I’ve found quite amazing – working for myself – there is a whole other world out there! Just seeing so many people in cafés, working from a café. I remember thinking “oh my goodness – here’s another life. Who knew?”

This lifestyle change has meant I have been able to slow my life down to a pace where I can appreciate things day-to-day, the little things that happen to me. Life is all about many little things that make up a day and a good life and appreciating those. I don’t always do it, but I have the mental space to have a little chat with the shop keeper. I have found that it’s really quite important to me.

I have always been very good at making connections, no matter where I am. So I have done that but because I don’t have people around me all the time, I do miss that when I want to be inspired. It means that I have to go out and make the effort to make a connection. When you’re working in a business with other people it’s always there. When you are on your own, it’s about knowing what you need.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.
~ Sun Tzu

FabricThe challenges of going solo
It’s important to know yourself, and know what’s best for you to thrive. One of the things I know about myself is my need for structure. Working for myself, gives me a great sense of freedom and flexibility which is fabulous. I have to put in place my own structure though, because I’m actually not very good at it myself. That can be difficult when you have to do it. You know you need it because you are not very structured, and you’re the only one who determines what you do or don’t do, essentially.

It’s so important to know your strengths and weaknesses. I found it extremely important to talk to a raft of different people about different things – not being afraid to talk to them about stuff I didn’t know. Not being afraid to say to someone – I don’t know how to do that, and going out and getting help. I have been so lucky and benefited from so many people who have helped me set up this business.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
Albert Einstein

Thriving on change
I have a pretty good idea about my own strengths. I’ve always had a lot of change in my life, and I like it. Not everyone does! That makes you hone your strengths and understand your weaknesses. Have an idea of what you are going to go through, and how difficult it might be. Because this is a new industry, it’s a given, you learn. Essentially I haven’t had any great surprises of what I can and can’t do.

Advice to others?

“You have to have energy, and belief that you can do it and not be afraid to fail.”

You need to not be afraid to get things wrong because you learn by doing that. You’ve got to be the one to push. If you don’t have a load of energy to push yourself, have people around you who push you.

Read more about Annabel here

Have you ever been to a personal stylist? Ever thought you would but were too afraid to try? Next week, we look at what a personal stylist does.

Logo - Annabel Hayles Personal Stylist




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