Today we’re honoured to be chatting with Maha Alangari: a certified Style Coach™ who started studying the Style Coach™ diploma course during the covid lockdowns of 2020. Maha graduated with an Honours Diploma from the Style Coaching Institute® just 2 years ago, and now has a dream job as a Senior Personal Shopping Consultant at Selfridges in London. In this interview, join Kate Redmond as she finds out how Maha’s career has progressed in this short space of time, and what advice Maha would give to others considering starting a new career in Style Coaching™, personal styling or personal shopping.
I remember the first time I connected with Maha. It was at the end of March 2020, just when the Covid-19 lockdowns first started happening around the world. At that time, I think a lot of us were searching for a ‘silver lining’ and a positive way to make use of our time spent at home. Online courses provided an ideal opportunity for many keen learners to develop their skills and connect with a like-minded community, all from the safety and comfort of their homes.
One morning – with my children ‘home-schooling’ in the background – Maha and I shared an energising conversation on Zoom, and it quickly became clear to me that she was a passionate advocate for the power of personal style, with a deep desire for a career that could meaningfully touch the lives of other people. The following week, Maha decided to join our global learning community at the Style Coaching Institute® and she officially started her journey to become a Style Coach™ with us. I admit that I had a really good feeling about where the course would take Maha, and I was excited about supporting her as she began to rewrite her career story and prepare for a brand new chapter in her life.
From that point, I worked with Maha until she graduated from the Style Coach™ Online Course with an Honours Diploma (in record time, by the way)! Needless to say, she was a very impressive learner: full of enthusiasm, talent and optimism. She also had a clear vision for what she wanted to achieve in the future – which is something I really admired then, and still do now. Fast-forward two eventful years, and here we are at the end of 2022. It’s been fascinating to follow Maha’s career progression in such a short space of time – which is why I wanted to take this opportunity to catch up with Maha today, and find out more about how she’s been getting on with her Style Coaching™ career. Here’s how our conversation went…
Hi Maha, it’s a pleasure and a privilege to welcome you today to this relaxed, chilled out interview – and for our audience at home, perhaps you could begin by telling us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to pursue a career in professional Style Coaching™?
“I grew up in an environment surrounded by fashion and style. I’ve been a fashion buyer for a multi-brand boutique for many years, but I wanted to improve, develop myself, and push myself further. I thought the best thing was to express my styling talent. After taking my first course in Fashion Styling, I felt I wanted to learn more, so I did my research and came across the Style Coaching Institute®. I got inspired to pursue a career in Style Coaching™ because it’s connected to self-development and building self-confidence, which is hugely important to me.”
It sounds like your career as a Style Coach™ is something that didn’t happen overnight as such, but rather, it evolved in many ways from who you are as a person and your desire to push yourself forwards so you could keep growing and developing your talents. Although I understand that you were previously a fashion buyer, studying Style Coaching™ allowed you to move closer towards the aspects of styling you enjoy most, and the issues that you feel most deeply connected to… which, like you say Maha, are things like your own self-development and also helping to build other people’s self-confidence too. This leads me to my next question! After you graduated as a Style Coach™, did anything change for you as a stylist and, if so, did you notice any difference in your career fulfilment?
“After graduating as a Style Coach™, my skills and tools improved immensely! Being a Style Coach™ enabled me to exploit my talents in every possible way, which of course fulfilled my career.”
I always think that when we feel we are fulfilling our potential and making the most of our talents, then we’re able to live our best lives and bring the best version of ourselves to everything we do. A person’s work fills such a large part of their life, so it’s unbelievably important to find something that you truly love – because if you love it, you tend to put your heart into it, which results in you doing a great job. I know that sometimes it takes many years for people to discover what they’re passionate about and where their talents lie – but when they do, it really does translate into true career fulfilment or ‘job satisfaction’, as they say. So, I’m so glad that you found us and that you’ve been able to incorporate all of those things that are important to you into your work!
“I’m very glad too!”
Going back to what I was saying before about your career evolving from your interests and your passions – I was wondering if you could walk us through some of the steps you took when you graduated from the course, and what led you to your current position in the Selfridges Personal Shopping concierge team?
“Well, I started with tiny steps which developed into huge steps. I made use of every chance that came across my way. I started styling a small circle of people, which became bigger over time. I did collaborations with fashion stores, virtual styling websites, styled photo shoots, and I also did theatre styling at the London Palladium West End Theatre.”
Wow! That sounds amazing! But of course, it’s a credit to you, because you have to be willing to put yourself out there and try things that are new and different and a little bit scary at times. So, I hope you feel really proud of how far you’ve come.
“I am! I am very proud and happy!”
I’m so glad! Moving on, Maha, I would like to touch on the fact that this journey isn’t always easy for a lot of people – and I know you mentioned over email that you’ve had some bumpy times with it over the last couple of years, and that you’ve had times when you wondered whether you should give up or keep going, so I wanted to ask if you could possibly share with us what some of your biggest challenges have been so far, and what you have done to overcome them?
“Well, my biggest challenge was keeping my patience at the beginning. I found that pursuing a career in Style Coaching™ or Fashion Styling needs a lot of patience since it’s a slow pace career at the beginning. But once you achieve your first goal, you eventually achieve bigger goals. You have to be patient.”
That’s very true, Maha. I couldn’t agree more. Patience really is everything, but I think the slow pace in the beginning can be uncomfortable for a lot of people. I try to remember that patience is also an important form of action – it just doesn’t feel like it because we’re not moving as fast as we might like. I think we all have those days when challenges seem overwhelming, and we’re not sure whether we should keep trying to move forward or turn back the way we came. But if you imagine your future-self, giving advice to your present-day self, they would probably say, “Come on, you’ve got this! Hang in there, because it will be so worth it in the end!” So, my next question for you Maha, is whether you can you pinpoint someone or something that has had a positive impact on your first couple of years as a Style Coach™ – and why or how has this made a difference to you?
“Understanding style personalities has definitely had a positive impact on my first 2 years as a Style Coach™. When you understand style personalities, you will always get it right when you style and create outfits for a client.”
Oh wow – yes, that’s a great answer – Style Personalities are so interesting and when you understand the concept, it definitely does makes styling an outfit (or an entire wardrobe) so much easier. It’s wonderful to hear that the knowledge you learned from the Style Coaching™ course has made personal styling easier and more effective too of course! My next question is whether you could perhaps share with us some of the lessons you’ve learned during your first years of being a Style Coach™?
“The most important lesson is to never underestimate a small step in your career that will lead to a bigger one.”
That’s such good advice. I think a lot of people disregard the small steps, thinking that they won’t make a difference, but in fact, they make all the difference – especially when you look back with the wisdom of hindsight. You don’t necessarily realise it at the time, but the small steps you take all add up, so long as you’re going in the right direction to start with! And, as a Style Coach™ – who are some of your favourite kinds of people to work with and, I’m curious to know, what do you enjoy the most about your work?
“My favourite kind of people to work with are reliable honest people that have creative, romantic style personalities such as myself. You always relate to those who share the same style personality. What I enjoy most about my work is being creative, creating outfits and making someone feel better about themselves with increased self-confidence.”
Well, you found the right work – that’s wonderful! It’s so interesting, because obviously this is a question I’ve asked a lot of Style Coaches™ over the years, and I hear all kinds of different answers. For instance, many will say it’s seeing the inner transformation of their clients and how much more confident they become, others will say it’s personal shopping and creating fabulous new outfit combinations that capture their client’s personality, while there are others who highlight how much it means to them that they have freedom in their work – freedom to be their own boss, to work their own hours, and to have the joy of creating a business that truly belongs to them and reflects their values. There are so many incredible reasons to love being a Style Coach™, so I always love to hear each person’s own experience of what it means to them! My next question is whether there has there been anything that has surprised you about being a Style Coach™ – something that you weren’t necessarily expecting?
“I didn’t expect to be that knowledgeable about body shapes, style personalities, and colour analysis. The knowledge at the Style Coaching institute is priceless.”
I’m so pleased to hear that! I always think it’s great when we can pleasantly surprise our students and exceed their expectations. That’s fabulous feedback, thank you, but it’s also a credit to you, Maha, for putting in the work and being such a great learner. I think you get out what you put in, and you were very dedicated to doing your best with the course. It makes all the difference. So, Maha, let’s talk personal styling and personal shopping! First up: before choosing outfits for a new client, what are some of the most important things – as a stylist – you need to know about them?
“Body shape, style personality, lifestyle, and complexion.”
Yes… Of course, you’re absolutely right – as a stylist, there are certain things like body shape and complexion that you can easily observe with your expert eye, and you can use your knowledge to pick out clothes that will enhance and beautify women of every body shape and size. It’s all about getting the right balance and proportion, understanding silhouettes… and then of course combining this with a colour palette that you know will harmonise with the client’s own personal colour characteristics to help her look more vibrant, healthy and energised. I find that a lot of people don’t consider that their clothes are also a form of non-verbal communication – an expression of how they are as a person – so I imagine that as you’re chatting to a client, Maha, you’re also picking up on lots of little things that aren’t quite so obvious (in terms of what you can immediately observe with your eyes), but rather what you hear by listening intently to what the client tells you about who she is, what her lifestyle is like, what kind of roles she has in her life and what she needs new outfits for. For instance, is she shopping for a special occasion, for school-run outfits, or professional outfits for their work environment? It’s interesting how much you need to get to know a client, on lots of different levels, before you start buying outfits with them. So, Maha, on a light-hearted note… How do you cope with working at Selfridges and seeing so many beautiful clothes every day? Do you get tempted to buy a lot more clothes for yourself now?!
“I actually don’t! I love beautiful clothes, but my lifestyle is very work-oriented now. So, I shop in a more practical way. Seeing my clients buying beautiful things gives me the same fulfilment. And sometimes, seeing the same beautiful item everyday makes you feel that you’ve worn it already!”
I can understand that, and it’s lovely that you gain so much pleasure from seeing your client’s own pleasure in buying beautiful new things for themselves. I also think you’re right, Maha, that when you see the same items every day it does change the way you feel about purchasing them. I experience a similar thing myself with online styling and creating masterclasses – I spend so much time looking at clothes online for my work, that I don’t feel like doing clothes shopping for myself very often! I love beautiful clothes too, but you’re right that shopping does become very work orientated. I suppose this saves us from becoming shopping addicts! For anyone at home who’s wondering what a typical day in the life of a Style Coach™ looks like – can you give us a quick insight into what it’s like to wake up each day and do the work you love?
“It’s always fascinating, because you never know who you’ll meet and who you’ll style. You meet so many different personalities. I start my day, of course, with coffee! Then it’s off to Selfridges to meet with new clients. I style them and create new outfits. I attend briefs about brands, and then I get to do more styling. So it’s a lot of work in one day!”
It sounds like a lot of fun too! And very creative. I imagine you really get to know all the different clothes that are in the store at any one time, and that it must feel great to be able to go around and pick out not only outfits, but also different accessories that will enhance the outfits and make them unique for each individual client.
“Yes! And you get to understand the brands and the different cuts of clothing, and which cuts suit each client.”
I can imagine it’s also the same with Style Personalities… that different brands are better suited to one personality over another, so you get to know which brands you can turn to for each kind of client. Looking towards the future… When you consider your intentions as a Style Coach, what changes are you most excited to manifest or create in your life?
“Well, I am very grateful to have reached where I am today: being a personal shopping consultant at Selfridges, and also a Style Coach™. I’m enjoying the present and not thinking too much about the future. Just looking forward to it!”
That’s a lovely way to look at it, actually. I think a lot of the time, we’re so focused on future events and future goals that we fail to enjoy the present moment and to be grateful for the here and now. Finally, I must ask: What advice would you give to someone considering a career in Style Coaching™ for themselves?
“Make sure you’re passionate about it. If you are, you will do very well. Keep the motivation, collaborate, and start with small steps which will lead to bigger ones.”
Thank you! Maha – it’s been wonderful chatting with you, and I really appreciate everything you’ve shared with us and I think our audience at home will as well because when you’re thinking about a new career, it can be a little bit overwhelming but the way that you’ve expressed it as breaking it down into manageable steps, I think that’s very encouraging. It’s possible for anyone to start, and every expert was once a beginner at some point. I think it’s encouraging to hear that you’ve achieved so much, Maha, and I think people will find your story very inspiring. Where can our audience go if they’d like to follow you online or perhaps visit your website? We’d love to know all the details!
“I have a website, which is www.mahaalangari.com and my Instagram handle is @maha.alangari so it is very easy to reach me. And you know, Kate, really I can’t say it enough, but your course… If I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be doing so well now. Honestly, the vocabulary, the education, the style personalities, the body shapes… I did many courses at other places, by the way, but your course is different. I always say it to people, even in Selfridges when they ask me, “Every time you style a client, they never leave without buying the outfit you picked out for them. How do you do it?” I tell them, I did a course with the Style Coaching Institute® and I learned a lot. I learned about personalities and body shapes, and it’s different from any other training. And this is why I do so well.”
Oh, that’s amazing. That’s wonderful to hear. You’re very kind to share that with us, because if we hear little bits of information about how our work is translating into every day, real-life experiences for our Style Coaches™ and their clients, it helps us to stay motivated… if we know what the end result of our work is, that whatever we’re doing here in the office is benefiting and helping people.
“Yes. Of course. If a student is serious, then they will do very well, I think. Thank you so much for this chance, really. I’m so happy to be part of your family of Style Coaches™ at the Style Coaching Institute®.”
I’m so glad, Maha, and it’s so nice every time I get an email from you with little bits of information about how you’re getting on it really means a lot to me. I love that we can stay in touch.
“Of course! Thank you so much for believing in me and thank you for giving me the chance to speak about my experiences, and for your kindness and continuous support.”
Honestly, Maha, it’s a pleasure! It’s wonderful to see how you’re getting on and to be here to support and encourage you along the way. I hope you’re very proud of yourself, and of course, we’re very proud of everything you’re achieving too. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to let us catch up on all of your news and to congratulate you.
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