This is LIZ. Manager of Recycle Boutique Hamilton & creator of LizVivianistylist (personal stylist brand). I had a social media crush on this chick months before I met her! She rules.
Tell us a little about you and your craft.
I’ve been managing Recycle Boutique for 4 years. I oversee the shop floor, manage and train our team, assess the stock we accept, discuss pricing, merchandising and run our social media. We rely on our social media to bring customers in daily so it’s important to stay on top of it. I create looks every day, shoot them and sell them through our Instagram.
LizVivianistylist is a space for me to share what I do behind the scenes, my favourite looks, friends and their projects and general inspiration. It’s a brand I have created that I hope to expand – right now it is an online representation of myself. I have managed a couple of social media pages for various businesses and styled shoots for friends and their businesses, Recycle Boutique and local publications which are always fun. Whilst working full time at RB I make connections with customers, it’s a great place to meet people I would otherwise never cross paths with and this year I am really pushing to expand LizVivianistylist (A blog, personal styling, styling) in my spare time.
Did you know what you wanted to do when you finished schooling?
I didn’t. I always thought I’d do something creative and had a conflicted mindset towards Tertiary schooling. I wondered why I’d need to go to University to be taught how to “ART” I wondered if it would restrict my creative process rather than free it. I also craved that validation from a teacher or tutor. It got to 7th form and everyone was applying to Uni and I panicked. I was also in the middle of my angsty “Anti Hamilton” phase. I applied to 2 Universities for creative degrees, got into both and picked the one farthest away.
Did you go to university/do you have a degree in your craft? Why/why not?
I studied at Massey University in Wellington doing a degree in Visual Communication Design for a year. Although I did learn some great skills and made some amazing friends. I wasn’t committed to the degree and didn’t return after a year. I don’t think the degree was right for me and in hindsight I think I should have given myself a gap year after school to consider what I wanted to do. When I came home I struggled with feeling like a failure after I didn’t finish, I felt guilty and telling my Dad was the scariest thing I have had to do. I have never regretted the decision to leave as I wasn’t happy with what I was studying but it’s the quitting aspect that really got to me.
When did you start getting into style & design? And when did you begin to share it?
I have always been behind the scenes at RB and have been able to design chalk boards, our signage and Instagram posts etc. I have only started sharing my personal work again this past year. I think that leaving Uni lead me to lose a lot of confidence. I suddenly felt like I was still doing all these creative things behind closed doors but they weren’t valid because I hadn’t received a certificate. I have always loved writing and have only recently started again. I am nervous to share with others as I’m very careful about what I share on the internet. I’m not sure I want to be so open with so many people who don’t know me personally. I know I need to get it out there because I’ll never know. Opening yourself up creatively is scary!
How did you know how to go about starting a personal brand/Instagram account? Where did you find resources around this side of things?
INTERNET! So many places on the internet that can give you step by step info on growing your followers etc. Also I use YouTube for how to’s as I’m a visual person so for things I can’t quite understand Youtube is perfect. I get most styling info from books, magazines but mostly YouTube.
What was the toughest part of starting out?
Really hard to stand out in the fashion industry. So many bloggers, designers, models etc. I try to bring a sense of realness to my brand. I want people to have faith in me that we can make it work for them. It’s not really about the clothes. It’s about you deciding how you want to look, owning your style and being confident. I just have to help people figure all that out!
Where did the ideas of LizVivianistylist come from?
I’ve had a couple of customers approach me and tell me they would pay me to shop with them and that I should consider styling seriously. Which is such an amazing feeling! I do feel like there are way too many salespeople in fashion retail who really don’t care about their customer – I’m lucky that at Recycle Boutique we have so many different things to choose from and not one customer is ever the same.
I really see this as an opportunity to develop my skills. It frustrates me when people think that our jobs in retail are easy. There really is a skill to selling clothes to people, to really helping someone find what they want and not just praising everything they try on. What you’re really selling is confidence. If you’re doing the job right. A customer won’t feel like you’re selling to them at all. Personal styling is about building relationships with customers, gaining trust and knowing your shit.
I felt like I should create a profile for myself where it presented my brand my inspirations, my own style and my work. If people can see what I’m into – and they like it, it’s an easy way to connect. I’d really like to step out as someone who can help others to find their own personal style. Although i do like styling shoots and looks for our Instagram. I enjoy the challenge that is dressing real women with real likes, dislikes and insecurities. That’s what is so great about my job. I get to experience all parts of a shop floor. Managing, buying, pricing, customers, merching, design, advertising, playlists for our store, photoshoots etc.
When you’re on the floor in store you don’t have time to plan. You need to think on your feet and it takes a lot of skill to work with a stranger – you have to deal with their rejection, you have to try and figure out their boundaries and you need to ask the right questions. It can be a very personal topic so it’s important to be sensitive to others. I’m looking at creating a styling business where I take real women or men who aren’t confident in their own personal style and helping them to decide what they like and don’t like, what looks best on them and the best ways to shop with confidence.
What are your morning/daily rituals around creativity?
Every day I do a full walk of the store and pull different looks for our social media. The colours need to be similar as this translates really well on the feed. I usually choose one piece that is awesome and that will be the main focus of the day. I might pull a colour from it and work with that. Or we might have an awesome denim jacket in – we’ll focus on denim that day. This is a great start as it gets my mind going – we then shoot looks with our beautiful girls they need to loosen up and get confident in front of the camera – this is always fun and a good way to break the ice before we start the day!
What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out post schooling?
Not to rush into things, just because everyone else wants to study doesn’t mean you have to. Take a break and decide what you want to do. I may have appreciated my tertiary education more if I had thought about the degree and decided it was something I wanted to seriously pursue and achieve. For me it was more of a “why not” situation.
What’s the best habit you’ve picked up?
Keeping a journal. Doesn’t have to be fancy, I have a folder full of random pieces of paper i have used to write down things. I have a tonne of notebooks filled with my thoughts as i grew up that i plan on keeping forever. Sometimes reading back it can be painful to relive the feelings i felt (because it was a journal it was brutally honest, as in, I never expected ANYONE but myself to read it) But it’s therapeutic If i really feel like something is stressing me and I don’t want to talk to someone about it or I can’t shake the feeling I’ll write it down. I also think that handwritten journalling is so much better than typing (personally). Looking back i like seeing things i scribbled out or my messy writing – you can kind of feel the emotion you had when writing. If it was rushed or well thought out. It’s good because it leaves your head but you can review it later if you feel like you need to.
How do you unwind?
I really enjoy cooking after work (when I can) as it’s just a good time to slow down and do something that doesn’t involve a screen. Recently I’ve been making earrings and different jewellery pieces which is fun. ASMR videos on YouTube!! SO WEIRD but they totally work for me – when i can’t sleep or I’m feeling super stressed I listen to these videos, they’re so relaxing and great for taking time out. Or just chilling with my BF and my dog watching Gordon Ramsey – we love Kitchen Nightmares.. and Wife Swap. haha
What book, artists and public figures influence you the most?
I get inspired to pursue my passions by seeing my peers do the same. I’m obsessed with watching films I go through phases and get obsessed with directors – it’s where I get all my music and style inspiration from. I love The Man Repeller, Casey Neistat and real women pursuing their dreams. I have a few favourite Youtube channels that film raw conversations about taboo topics, body image, infidelity, marriage etc. Really cool to be able to connect with people when they identify feelings you thought no one else felt – or even feelings you have never felt but can now understand why someone else does. I read heaps of management books my favourite is probably “Good to Great” by James C Collins, I like having knowledge behind me it gives me confidence when I’m directing our team.
What are your visions for LizVivianistylist in the future?
I hope to take on some new clients this year and build up more experience with one on one styling. I am thinking about group nights for women (like tupperware) where you discuss body shapes, colours, developing your style and how to shop on a budget. I want to also connect and collab with other cool young Kiwi’s who are owning their shit!
Intrigued for more and want to stay tuned?
FOLLOW on instagram: @lizvivianistylist @recyclehamilton