Sydney based fashion stylist Rosie McKay has created a business that seeks to support women and men in embodying confidence in their business life by focusing on what they wear.
With a vast shoe collection and a love of all things fashion, Rosie McKay shares insight into her virtual styling business, and the incredible impact it has on her clients and the way they feel about themselves.
00:02:44:13 - 00:03:21:04
What does feeling confident mean to you? For many business owning women, it's one of the most common missing ingredients when it comes to creating a successful business. Today's guest has created a business that seeks to support women, and men, in this very same challenge by focusing on what they wear. Rosie McKay McKay is Sydney based stylist with a vast shoe collection and a love of all things fashion, as she joins us today to share the why behind her virtual styling business, and the incredible impact it has on her clients and the way they feel about themselves. Rosie McKay, welcome to the Mumbition podcast!
00:03:21:09 - 00:03:24:21
Thank you so much for having me, Carrie and Lucy, it's great to be here.
00:03:25:02 - 00:03:31:24
Now, we're passionate about turning women's journeys into small business stories, can you tell us yours?
00:03:32:07 - 00:04:56:03
Sure! So, I had a really long career in magazines before working for myself. After I started working for myself, I then went into motherhood and I was still working for myself, but I didn't feel completely myself, and I couldn't really put my finger on the missing ingredient.
Then I realized that I had stopped getting up and getting ready for my day, because when I was working on a magazine, I obviously had a title, with that title there was a certain image that I wanted to project, and you did that. You had that routine of getting up, getting dressed, making yourself feel the way that you wanted to feel for the events that you had that day. But all of a sudden I had stopped doing that for myself, and I wondered if I was feeling like this, if a lot of other women who had experienced a shift in their career or shift in their life had maybe started to lose their confidence because they'd stopped paying attention to what made them feel good.
Style is definitely an ingredient in that mixing pot of what makes us feel good. So from there, this arm of my business, my personal styling arm of the business, was born and it's something that brings me a lot of joy.
00:04:56:06 - 00:05:16:21
Rosie McKay, there's a really beautiful testimonial on your website from one of your clients that really speaks to how you just summarized your business and this person said, “this is a small price to pay for feeling like I'm ready to face the world again.” I know you've touched on this a bit, but what is it about the clothes that we wear that can sort of transform us emotionally?
00:05:17:02 - 00:07:01:15
I think we don't realize how much our clothing becomes like armor. So it's almost like we put on our armor to go into our day. I always have this analogy about, what you wear kind of needs to initiate the feelings that you want to take into your day. So for me, particularly, if I know I've got some pitching to do that day or there's some things that I need to tackle in my day that require me to have complete confidence, I will wear a power shoulder in my office.
But on the flip side of that, particularly when you're working for yourself and you can get really stuck in business mode all the time, and then you need to flip into that more nurturing side. Well, clothes can have this really beautiful way of helping you to evoke that more feminine side and that more soft side.
So, you know, if you want to feel a little bit more relaxed and at ease and pay attention to the fabrics that you're wearing, maybe go for some linens, maybe go for a dress that's a little bit more relaxed. So it's also a way to shift your mood but also make you feel good because it's something that you can start to enjoy doing.
So when women and men start realizing the psychological power and the power of changing your mindset through style, it becomes a lot more than fashion. There's a lot more intention around, “okay, why am I wearing what I'm wearing?” And then the flip side of that is, “how do I want to feel today?”
And therefore, how will I dress to evoke those emotions or that mindset?
00:07:02:09 - 00:07:36:16
So interesting, the psychological explanation of that. I was just thinking, as you were talking, there's still and I'm speaking for myself here only, but there's still a lag for me between the COVID experience of what I was wearing when I was working at home, working from home, and then as we're transferring now into this real life going back to work, it's sort of catching up to do for me.
So it's interesting to hear you say that it's about really, really being conscious of how you want to feel in order to correct that transition.
00:07:37:12 - 00:10:15:13
Absolutely, and you're not alone. I work one on one with clients as well and I offer virtual and face to face. Obviously, as we've been able to get together and gather again, that started to pick up because a lot of people have realized the same thing, “OK, I need to transition into this hybrid kind of work week.”
Now, sometimes parts of my week I may be going into the office and then other parts of my week I'm working from home. But also just this evolution of mindset where we can't get stuck in how we were feeling. COVID was really hard on everyone psychologically. So we need to start elevating the way that we come out of that.
People obviously don't necessarily need to be dressing super corporate all the time, but they want to feel good. They also want to feel that they look put together. So it's how do you create a style that suits your lifestyle and suits, running to school, drop off and pick up, but then takes you back into that business realm.
So again, I go back to that idea about really paying attention to fits and fabrics and also colors. Like today, I know no one can see you, but both you and I are in really bright colors and even though that might not have been a conscious decision and at this point, it's a subconscious decision, I guarantee, because it's Friday, we're at the end of the week, we still have some more of that work week to get through as we go into school holidays.
We've put on a bright color because we needed a little bit of a pep up. So it's really thinking about how you want to feel, what you need to do in your day, and then mixing those two elements into an outfit that works. I think it's really great that we have this idea of being able to wear activewear during the week.
But I also think that there's a way to do it so that it feels a little bit dressier. So you might wear a really great pair of leggings and then you might have a relaxed fit shirt and a lightweight trench on top or a lightweight blazer. So you've dressed up that kind of casual piece that suits what you need to do but also makes you feel good when you're in a professional kind of mindset or mode.
I really think it's about understanding what works for your lifestyle and understanding how you can elevate that kind of look.
00:10:16:05 - 00:11:25:21
That feeling is so important. I definitely have a section in our Confident Pitching for Business Women course which talks abou, all the aspects of not just what you say, it's how you say it, but then it's also your posture, how you deliver it, and actually your presence. Of course, that's to do with what you're wearing at that point in time.
And whatever you're wearing that has to make you feel great. It has to make you feel like you've got this. So I love that sense and I certainly have these go to outfits that I know that I can call upon because they do make me feel good and they evoke memories of when I needed to show up and deliver something or deliver a message with impact, so I love that connection.
Now, you built your business after life in the corporate world, including many years as a fashion journalist. What are some of the key lessons that you've brought from those working years into running your own business now?
00:11:26:04 - 00:13:48:06
I worked on weekly magazines for the majority of my career, so eight years of my 11 years in magazines, full time were on weekly magazines. Working with efficiency is something that I feel is literally embedded in me and has given me such a good grounding for running a business that has multiple facets and multiple arms to it.
Because in my mind, I'm still working to a weekly deadline. So that's something that has been invaluable, knowing how to prioritize what needs to get done and do that first, and just working with efficiency. Also relationship building, that was one of the biggest parts of my job, and you know, there is so much power in building great relationships and doing it with authenticity.
I was in an industry that obviously is seen to be very glamorous and that can be a lot of superficiality. But I really think there is so much value in building authentic relationships because as you move in your business and also as other people move in their lives and their careers, there are some there can be some really beautiful conversation points and ways to help each other as you move through those those career paths that you end up taking.
The other thing that is super important and I've been able to take is creative vision. So a lot of what I did was creative. Obviously, I was styling shoots, I was producing shoots. So I was putting together a lot of creative strategy. That's something that has been really great for me to utilise in my own business, particularly when I've wanted to diversify in different ways, including launching my own courses, building upon my service business with a physical product offering.
I'm launching my own label this year, which is super exciting. All of that has come together because of all of the groundwork I've done in my career in magazines, which was very visual and all of that relationship building.
00:13:48:13 - 00:14:27:17
I love that interweaving of skills because I think sometimes when we're starting out in a business and we've come from the corporate world, like in your example, you can sometimes think, “Oh, do I have do I have everything I need? Do I have all the skills I need to be able to do this?” So it's really interesting to hear that that's the way that you've worked in those skills because actually a lot of things are transferable, which is a nice segue to my next question. You spoke in the intro about how you started your business when you had one child and now you have two. What about the skills involved in motherhood that have transferred to business?
00:14:28:05 - 00:16:27:10
Motherhood has definitely taught me patience, and particularly in the business sense. I'm really ambitious and I want everything to happen yesterday. Motherhood teaches you that you need to go through the motions, you need to be present. That has really shaped the way I am as a businesswoman, particularly lately, where I have just been more open to letting things happen as they need to.
I've had some really lovely moments, and I think often you know, getting a little bit older, I'll be 39 this year, moving into my forties, and I just stop and honor moments of a day and think I feel really, really happy and learning to appreciate those moments in my life transfers into the business sense because I feel like when I'm in business mode, I can be really impatient.
But having that sense of being happy where you are in that moment in your business is really important to give you the confidence to, I guess the patience to keep going, the patience to keep persevering. Did you say perseverance, Lucy Kippist? Yeah, perseverance.
Because sometimes you want to give up, but you kind of give up, but when you're a mum, you can't give up. So I guess as well as patience, it teaches you perseverance. So I think that's a really beautiful lesson that I've been able to take into my business, particularly as it grows and as I'm exploring new avenues for my business, and particularly in those moments where maybe I've tried something and it hasn't worked out as I thought it would have worked out.
But you just persevere, you tweak things, you have the patience and you keep going.
00:16:28:08 - 00:17:03:22
Yeah, it's like playing the long game and I just wanted to shout out to you for the reminder of appreciating those happy moments, because when we are ambitious, I think often it's easy to go, “Nothing's working as a whole altogether the way that I wanted it to.” But actually, if you break down those experiences, there's there's moments in there that are perfect, and if you don't grab them, then you miss them.
So it's a really beautiful reminder. Thank you. That, that those moments happen and that we need to honor them and celebrate them.
00:17:04:12 - 00:17:05:10
00:17:05:17 - 00:17:22:24
Now, managing risk is such an essential part of the small business journey, but something that I think that we might leave out of discussions or even planning when we're actually starting out. What is your number one tip for managing risk in an online business like yours?
00:17:23:16 - 00:20:17:22
Look, I think there's something that I learned from a mentor that I worked with, Lorraine Murphy and she always said, you do the minimum viable thing that you need to do to see if that business is going to be successful or it has legs and so I think sometimes, and I have definitely seen that come to fruition as I've been working in creating this physical product for my clothing brand.
You need to dip your toe in the water, obviously have your long term vision, but you need to do it step by step, bite by bite. You need to make sure that what you're doing has legs before you put all of your beans in that pot. So for me, it's always been about testing the water, and I'll give you a really good example.
So last year I launched an online course and I did all the filming myself, and I've got the content. I did it all myself and I was in two minds about whether I'd get it filmed professionally, so I really invested some money in filming it professionally, or if I should go ahead and put that money into the creative project, which was creating my label, so creating a physical product.
What it told me when I took it to market, I had a few people obviously sign up and do my course, but people who joined my waitlist for the course ended up booking me for one to one appointments instead of the course, which was the cheaper product. It made me realize, OK, my target market, they want to work with me in a way that's quite intimate.
So I decided that putting my money into the course was not the best business decision for me. Putting my money into a physical product which can give people an element of the essence that they want in terms of style and what they like about being in community with me was a much better decision, a riskier one. Don't get me wrong, it is riskier but I felt from the perspective of dipping my toe in that in that other scenario and weighing up, OK, what am I getting from that, they want a more intimate connection with me.
They love the essence of what it is. I show them what to do with style and how to work with style. They always want to know what I'm wearing and how I'm wearing it. OK, it's a no brainer for me. So I think that testing the idea in some way, giving it a little bit of time, but testing it and really listening to your gut, what is it telling you?And then going from there.
00:20:18:11 - 00:20:35:03
Yeah, because that testing is a risk mitigation strategy. So what I'm hearing is that, especially when we've got a new product, we actually don't know exactly what the features in that product are most valued by our end customer.
00:20:35:11 - 00:20:36:13
00:20:36:14 - 00:21:02:22
Carrie Kwan or Lucy Kippist
You don’t even know if that's your end customer. You might have a more valuable customer or a customer that's willing to pay a little bit more, it depends on what your purpose is, et cetera. So definitely listen to your customer feedback. Love that MVP approach, minimum viable product. So that just means the minimum features that are needed in that particular product at that particular time and then getting feedback to see and validate, that's exactly what we want.
00:21:03:02 - 00:21:26:12
Nothing you do is ever a waste you know, there is always a lesson learned or, for me, while I might not do intakes all the time for the course, I'll turn it into an evergreen product. I also stress that everything you do is a lesson and everything you do can be tweaked in a way that can be of use to your business.
00:21:26:22 - 00:21:30:24
Absolutely. It sounds like that it's a growth mindset in action, isn't it?
00:21:30:24 - 00:21:31:20
00:21:32:06 - 00:21:57:18
Rosie McKay, just wanted to change gears as we round out the interview. Now, in terms of all of the community of support that's around you, supporting your business, the Co in our Mums & Co is a celebration of the men, the friends, the colleagues, our children and our family, our massage therapists, whoever it is. Who makes up your Co to support the work that you're doing and how do they support you?
00:21:57:23 - 00:23:06:02
Definitely my husband, definitely my children. My sister is like my best friend and also the first person I will consult about anything. I am so blessed that I have lifelong friends, literally 20, 30 year relationships and they are my ride or die. I go to them for everything you know.
Then also there are people in my business that support me, that support my business, so I couldn't do what I do without the professionals, the accountant, the financial advisor. They are part of my Co and I think that it's a really beautiful balance of people who can obviously support me emotionally and and physically, like your immediate family and your friends. But then also the professionals that support you to ensure that your business is on track. And if your business is on track, then emotionally and everything else, then you can feel a little bit more on track too.
00:23:06:05 - 00:23:25:10
Absolutely. Then all you need is a fantastic outfit and you're well on your way to a big family in every measure. Rosie McKay, thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition today and thank you all for your company. If you'd like to find out more about Rosie McKay and her business, you'll find her on Instagram and also on LinkedIn.
And if you haven't already, please come and join the thousands of business owning women just like you at mumsandco.com.au. What's your favorite outfit to wear on a work from home day?
00:23:39:12 - 00:23:54:21
I would definitely have to say it is a t- shirt, a blazer, and a comfy pair of leather pants or jeans. And sometimes like today, I'll wear a pointed pump or it'll be like a cool boot.