This week we’re chatting with one of our Committed Program style mentors, Julia Browning. Julia’s business, JA Runway Personal Styling, is based out in Houston, Texas. Today she shares with us how she made the leap from her corporate job to styling full-time, how long it took her to get comfortable pricing her services, and some great client shopping tips. Meet Julia!
What led you to The Paid Stylist? When did you finish The Paid Stylist program and when did you become a mentor?
Like most people I found The Paid Stylist through Google. Before the program, my styling business was more of a hobby. I worked with local college football wives dressing them for their season of football games and styled several friends and family in-between. I knew how to work with people and how to style them, but I lacked the infrastructure that is essential to having a sustainable business. I needed to learn more about building a website, understand how to take a client through an efficient styling process, and understand how to craft services that made sense for my market. I found The Paid Stylist blog and stalked that and the newsletter for a few months before signing up for the Committed Program.
I finished the program in 2012 and became a mentor in 2015. No doubt, without this program, my business would not be where it is at today.
What did you do before you became a full-time personal stylist?
I was a corporate gal working as a Landman for an Oil and Gas Company handling and negotiating contracts. My husband and I got married before I knew my true calling was personal styling and didn’t think it was financially fair for me to jump ship from a stable job to chase a dream. I stayed with my corporate job for a few years and packed my weekends and some evenings during the week with client appointments. I set a monetary goal that met my family needs and once I consistently met my goal, I left the corporate world and embraced being a full-time personal stylist.
Looking back, I could have gone full-time after finishing the Committed Program. I had all the tools to build the client base I wanted, but I’m a planner. I needed a little extra cushion to keep me focused and answer important questions such as: what type of clients I really wanted to take on and how much my time was worth.
Did it take you a while to settle on the price point for your styling service? How did you get there?
It took me two years to finalize pricing for my three core services – Fresh Perspective, Closet Styling, and Sort, Shop & Style. Due to fear of not bringing in clients, I priced my services way too low when I started. And while I did book clients, I was constantly wondering if my prices truly gave me the return for my very limited time and if it was enough to convert into a full-time job. The answer was rarely yes. I had a solid book of business, but I was exhausted and spent very little time with my family on the weekends. I had a self heart-to-heart and confidence boost, then raised my prices.
After raising my pricing over the span of two years (even decreasing my pricing once), I'm confident my numbers are exactly where they need to be. My service offerings are consistently attracting my ideal clients, I feel adequately compensated for my time and I'm spending more time with my family.
Where in your city is your favorite place to shop with clients? Any hidden gems you'd like to share?
Cakewalk Style Shop (modern edge), Monkee’s of Houston (Southern classic), and The Little Bird (designer consignment) are my three favorite local gems. Each offers a cozy, laid back atmosphere and a chance to get lost exploring pieces you love without the hustle and bustle of a mall.
Any favorite styling tips and or tricks?
I like to share tips with program mentees that will help ease a client's anxiety of overspending during a shopping trip. One tip is to ask a client to trust that you have pulled within her budget. Another tip is to ask a client to not turn a price tag until they have formed an opinion about a piece – love, like, or no thanks. The “love” and “like” pieces can be on hold in each store, then purchased at the end of a shopping session. You want to communicate with your client every step of the shopping experience and try your best to answer questions like, “What if I like something even more at the next store?” It’s the little things that make us standout.
Follow Julia on Instagram here.