Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast


The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 49: Your personal style and success

Anotoinette Stonham

Founder All About Style

November 1, 2022
Looking your best is a big part of feeling your best. Antoinette Stonham, founder of All About Style and active member of Mums & Co, knows this better than most. Antoinette joins us today to share her insights into life as a business owning woman and why defining your own personal style really does matter. 


All About Style


Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Antoinette Stonham

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Episode 49 Transcript

00:01:19:10 - 00:02:10:08

Carrie Kwan

Looking your best is a big part of feeling your best. Today's guest knows this better than most. Antoinette Stonham is the founder of All About Style and has been an active and inspiring member of Mums & Co. 

Antoinette joins us today to share her insights into life as a business owning woman and why defining your own personal style really does matter. Now, we’re passionate about telling women's stories, a big welcome Antoinette, I would love to hear your story.

00:02:10:16 - 00:04:49:22

Antoinette Stonham

As you know, I’m Antoinette and I’m from All About Style. My background is in pattern making designs. When I was younger, I was a pattern making designer, I lived in Sydney's eastern suburbs, very high end. I worked quite closely with a lot of the gay community as well. I was making Elvis suits, beading and getting ready for the Mardi Gras.

That was sort of that part of my life. I worked there until I was in my forties and then at that time I had two children. My husband was running a business from home, he was playing house daddy. I left that part of my life, I went and worked with him and helped him build up his business.

From there, I turned 50, the magic 50, so I wanted to get back into helping and doing things, and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. But I love fashion, I love dressing up and I found that there was a gap in the market. I live in south west Sydney where women weren’t confident in dressing. Personal stylists were well known in the eastern suburbs and in Melbourne. Everyone knew what a stylist did. But in western Sydney, in south western Sydney, it wasn't. One, it wasn't affordable and everyone thought it was for the rich and famous. 

Because I was always approached, I'd go to networking functions and was approached with, “how do you do this? How do you put that together? You look so good.” So I thought, well, actually, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do personal styling. Originally, everyone thought I was crazy, you're leaving a successful business and you're going into something new and you’re fifty, why should you do that? I'm pretty determined and I felt that I could empower women.

I found that dressing up for me lifts me. It makes me feel like I can take any challenge on, I love it and I want other women to feel that. I feel it makes them look better. You put on a colour that brightens up your skin and empowers you, your power color, knowing how to dress you and your body shape, not necessarily what's in fashion or what's on trend.

It's discovering your style and I launched All About Style ten years ago and I'm still going. I have a full on business and I do workshops and I’m the face of fashion there. Then I've run workshops for back to work and I do a lot of one on ones. I've got clients in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney. We'll go all around Sydney styling. So that's me!

00:04:51:12 - 00:06:26:24

Carrie Kwan

I love that you are essentially democratising fashion and style and making that accessible for everyone. I know your customers come from all different ages, all different backgrounds, and that message is really clear that it can be something that anyone can discover and anyone can learn how to have that great sense of style.

We saw you recently at our Empowered conference and I know that everyone was commenting on how amazing you looked. Secondly I'm hearing that you can actually start a business at any age of your life and you've gone through your own journey. It's wonderful to see that you've started a business at 50 and you show up every single time with a huge amount of energy, wisdom and a willingness to share your experience.

We're very lucky to have you and if you are after any sort of fashion tips, I would highly recommend Antoinette’s very accessible services. I hear that there's a lot of fun when you get to spend a day with you.

Lucy Kippist

Antoinette, I really enjoy listening to the evolution of the business for you because as you said, you started off in the pattern making side of things and then you were helping your husband build up his business and then you got to your own business, and that's evolving, too. What is it that you love the most about what you're doing at the moment?

00:06:28:07 - 00:07:03:10

Antoinette Stonham

I've worked with both men and women, but it's meeting different women and knowing that I'm making a difference in their life, knowing that I'm helping them find that amazing jacket to wear so they can present, so they can feel good about themselves, it's really helping. 

What I love doing is the empowering side of things. I love to show people that they can look beautiful because you'd be surprised how many women have never been told that they look hot, they look sexy and they look beautiful. I want to bring that, I want to show them that.

00:07:05:12 - 00:07:34:06

Lucy Kippist

Such a beautiful, beautiful mission statement. While you're out there on a daily basis inspiring other women to feel fantastic, what is it that you do for yourself, maybe daily or weekly, that helps you feel great and that helps you to inspire? You have a very clear mission and ambition and also to nurture your livelihood. Is there something that connects all those three things for you on a regular basis?

00:07:34:06 - 00:09:26:05

Antoinette Stonham

To me, it's you've got to look after you first, okay? As mums, we don't do that. But to be able to be successful in business or even as a mum, you've got to take that time out and have you. So for me, I do exercise. I like to do that, not traditionally in the gym. I do my own and I do a lot of walking and I believe looking after your health, eating properly, and as mums again, we're busy, we don't eat properly, we throw some in our mouth, we grab a couple of cups of coffee during the day and then grab a chocolate to energise ourselves.

Eating properly is another big thing for me. The first thing is looking after your health so you can look after everyone else's, you can run your business and then these things can help you keep healthy. So for me, it’s eating properly, doing that bit of exercise in the morning and taking a bit of time out to breathe, whether it be just sitting outside in the sun for a few minutes, catching a bit of vitamin D, that does it for me.

If I’m working from home and I'm doing admin, I really don't like admin, I’ll duck out in the backyard or sitting on the deck and I'll grab a juice and sit outside for a few minutes and recollect my thoughts. I think having that me-time to yourself, your health and the things that help your health, that's most important, because if you're not healthy and you don't feel fit and strong, you can't do it. 

I can't run around the shopping centers, I'm 60, so if I'm not fit and healthy, I can't do those three or four hour shopping trips with clients in heels. If I don't look after myself then I can't be present and play with my grandchildren if I'm not healthy. So health is first.

00:09:27:11 - 00:09:46:14

Lucy Kippist

Hundred percent, great tip. What I love about what you're saying there is that reconnecting with nature moment, I tend to do that too now when I'm feeling a bit stressed in the day, I find if I go outside, even if it's for 5 minutes, it's just that sun on your face or even just the light on your face, it makes such a difference.

00:09:48:07 - 00:10:01:12

Antoinette Stonham

It energises you. I love it, I just go out and sit there. You feel that warmth on your skin and you feel that boost of natural energy, instead of grabbing a chocolate or whatever. 

00:10:01:12 - 00:10:57:08

Carrie Kwan

When you were talking, I was thinking about heels, and I don't know about you, but since Covid, I feel like I need to retrain myself in heels and they've slowly kind of reduced in height of late.

Leading onto risk, I'm looking at from this from a business perspective and I was thinking, even just in terms of wellbeing and the attitude that we bring to the process that protect us as business owners, I'm wondering how would you actually describe some of your biggest risk challenges and especially since you're you know, you're tackling business with a bit more experience behind you as well. What have you put in place to protect yourself?

00:10:57:08 - 00:11:37:05

Antoinette Stonham

With risk, I feel that you can't spread yourself too thin. We do networking functions and we do things like that. I think a big risk is spreading yourself too thin and not being able to focus on what your true focus is. I think as women, we try to please and we want to be there and everywhere and try to be with our families at the same time. That's a huge risk to business, spreading yourself thinly.

00:11:37:05 - 00:12:37:07

Carrie Kwan

When you consider a lot of the women that are running business in Australia, they're the sole traders. There's about 80% of these women who don't have teams and staff and they need to be able to show up every day. So I can see what you mean by spreading yourself too thin.

Then the flipside of that I'm thinking, that focus sometimes means that you're focusing your energy in areas that perhaps you shouldn't be. We don't we don't have a lot of overcapacity, I think, for that energy, especially when we're caring for generations above and the next generation as well. Young and old, I think we do have to make sure that we do focus our areas in the right way.

00:12:37:07 - 00:13:14:01

Lucy Kippist

You are an active member of our community. You support us on social media and you've shared your insights at our member meet up events. Most recently you attended our Be Empowered conference. So you're in there, you’re in that networking sphere of what we do, so connection is really very important to you as well.

How do you do that in the digital space? Is there a tip you could share for someone else who is creating a business in a similar way to yours? How to connect with women online as well as in person?

00:13:15:00 - 00:14:56:05

Antoinette Stonham

When you use your social media, that's a big thing. Commenting on somebody and then following it through and you can pick up your connections. I think in the digital space it is difficult and it depends what type of personality you have. Like me, I prefer the in-person, but I do, do the digital connections.

Firstly, yes, it's more who you're following on social media and who follows you on social media. If there's something that clicks to you, it doesn't have to be your business, it can be for you personally. It's making connections or making it person to person, I think before the business side comes in. It's following people and commenting and joining groups on social media.

You get so many invitations to join different groups. There comes that spreading yourself thinly again. You've got to make sure that something gels with you and the group you're going to join and then be part of it and be in it. 

Sometimes they ask for help on different things. If you think you can help and you can answer a question, answer the question. Be careful of the groups who join and don't spread yourself too thinly. I find spreading yourself too thinly is a big thing and joining the groups is a good way to connect, but then choose one that's aligned with you and your values.

00:14:58:09 - 00:15:12:10

Lucy Kippist

Here at Mums & Co we love to recognise the community of support around us. So Antoinette, tell us a little bit about your Co. So the men, the women, the family, the partners, the clients, all the friends in your life and how they support you and help you grow your business?

00:15:13:10 - 00:16:04:19

Antoinette Stonham

It has been my family, my children support me. I think my biggest supporter would have to be my husband. He supported me all the way through. I think at first, they humoured me, my family thought, “Oh, well, you know, let her have a go, and then she'll be fine and get over it.” 

But he knows for me, I get around Sydney a lot and I don't like driving in the traffic and things like that. So he does put a lot of effort in and he works his business around me to be able to take me, sometimes I'm doing a wardrobe over at Baulkham Hills and I'm getting stressed out and I don’t know how to get there and things like that.

He is my biggest supporter. If I’m doing workshops he’ll help me load the car up the night before with mannequins and bits and pieces. On the physical side, he's a really good support that way and my children are a really good support as well.

00:16:05:21 - 00:16:07:20

Lucy or Carrie

That's lovely, what a good man.

00:16:07:21 - 00:16:10:10

Antoinette Stonham


00:16:10:10 - 00:16:24:23

Carrie Kwan

You are not only a mother, but also a grandmother. What are some of the most important transferable skills between the roles that you have in your family and the one that you play as a business owner?

00:16:24:23 - 00:17:34:23

Antoinette Stonham

Time management is huge because as you said, I'm a mum and a grandmother, I've got six grandbabies and I want to spread my time to be with them and still run my business and still be present in my own home and marriage as well. Time management is huge! I found that I really had to manage my time sort of from January through to July, because my mum was really unwell. 

I really wanted to spend as much time with her as I could and I was glad that the time management skills really came in, because I was still able to run my business, spend time with her as much as I could before I lost her. So time management is huge for me, because of what I do. Compassion, I'm a very compassionate person and I've got to be compassionate to work with my clients and the same with my family. So time management, compassion, having empathy, all skills that I think are really important, both family and business.

00:17:35:18 - 00:18:57:01

Carrie Kwan

I love how you mentioned that empathy and I think especially since we've gone through some pretty challenging times lately. We had an event which was mixed with the hybrid format, which is online and in person. We need to work a little bit harder when we're actually speaking to someone online, that empathy and having those skills to really pick up cues. I think you're right, as natural nurturers, we tend to do that really well. 

I wanted to ask a question as you were speaking. Since you have some incredible tips, I know we haven't gone into all the tips that you could provide about styling, but I'm wondering now that we are actually doing this podcast online at the moment, and I'd probably have at least if not half of my meetings online as well.

What are your styling tips for when you're actually having a meeting online? Is that different from what you would wear when in-person?

00:18:57:18 - 00:19:53:03

Antoinette Stonham

Yes, it can be different because we’re on camera. With a camera, you’re dressing your upper half. So your hair, your makeup and then the tops you wear, choose colors that are vibrant. Be careful with patterns, especially little patterns, because they can be a bit hazy. So just be careful of the patterns when you dress your upper half. 

Your eyebrows and your lips frame your face. So, eyebrow and lippy, you don't have to wear heaps of makeup, just make your eyebrows and lippy pop a bit and just be careful of the color tones you pick and the patterns you pick when you're on camera. Especially those little dots or little patterns, they become a bit hazy.

00:19:53:24 - 00:20:27:21

Carrie Kwan

They’re great tips and I actually always remember your framing face tip, because you're right, when you're on camera and especially if your lighting isn't right, if you've got a little bit of that overexposed or even underexposed where it's a bit too dark. People want to see your face, that's the only thing they've got to concentrate on when you're actually holding an online conversation.

So yeah, it's great tips, framing the eyebrows and putting a bit of color on.

00:20:28:07 - 00:20:55:17

Lucy Kippist

Thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition the podcast today, Antoinette. If you'd like to hear more from Antoinette and her business All About Style, you can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram @allaboutstyle. 

If you haven't already, please come and join the thousands of business owning women just like you at mumsandco.com.au

What is your favorite outfit to wear to an in-person event?

00:20:56:15 - 00:21:40:01

Antoinette Stonham

Oh my favorite outfit! I like something that's going to make an impact. Like I say to my clients, if you're going to a networking function, you're feeling a little bit nervous, wear something or have something on that draws the eye. If you've got really nice earrings on, I have got my earrings on today and someone might comment on them. That person that comments on them, they can be your buddy for the day or for that time at that networking function. Because there’s something that’s clicked, so even if it's in a red pair of shoes or something, that sort of makes you stand out from the crowd.