In another of our series about Study in Style graduates please meet Victoria Lochhead – Personal Stylist, Author and Queen of second hand style!
In 2006 I was due to return to work after maternity leave, and I was looking through my wardrobe to see what I could wear. Nothing I owned fitted or suited me anymore, and I had no clue what to buy, and found no joy in the prospect of shopping for new clothes. Suffice to say, I was having a mini style crisis. A good friend of mine suggested a trip to see an image consultant to help me, and that visit completely transformed the view I’d fallen into that shopping for clothes was tantamount to torture and completely unnecessary because clothes didn’t really matter. Actually the clothes themselves don’t, but how they make you feel and what they do for your confidence absolutely does – I know that now! My image consultant experience gave me a huge boost of confidence when I needed it most and completely re-ignited my love and enjoyment of being creative with clothes.
Sometime later, I was considering a career change for a role that could be based at home and more flexible around my family. I asked myself “if you could do anything, what would you do?” and instantly the memory of my experience with the image consultant came to me. I wanted to give other women that same ‘skipping down the street’ feeling, that joy of picking clothes to wear each day, rather than heaping everything on the bed and reaching for the Sauvignon.
I did my research, and came across Gail. She was down to earth, highly experienced and very relaxed and approachable. She even offered a course I could do from home, which was perfect for me with young children. I completed the training, and set up my business.
Since training with Gail, my life has changed completely. I left my previous job and started Frankie & Ruby (www.frankieandruby.co.uk), a personal styling business, which particularly focuses on building personal confidence. My business has gone from strength to strength, and I also added a Dress Agency to my business to give my clients a way to sell their unwanted clothes. We get mostly designer items, or things with tags still on; I once was even given a bin bag which contained 3 pairs of Jimmy Choo’s, and a Louis Vuitton handbag!
One of the things I personally love to do is to hunt for treasure in charity shops, vintage shops and jumble sales. In 2014 I decided to test my theory that once you know your rules of what to wear then you can shop anywhere, and if you can shop anywhere it should also be possible to dress amazingly well from second hand sources. I started a campaign called ‘Say No to New’ and committed to not buying new clothes for a year (apart from the basic and personal) and instead to either use what I already had, or buy from second hand sources. The campaign attracted the attention of others, and before I knew it, nearly 500 others had committed to doing the same! I was interviewed by Anne Diamond on BBC Radio Berkshire, and featured in Good Housekeeping Magazine.
My love of charity shopping and re-homing unwanted clothes has added a new dimension to my business. I started offering Eco-Shopping trips, to take clients to some of my favourite treasure hunting spots. As most of my clients are busy professional people, I also offer a service where I shop for clients in charity shops and then present them with a rail of the treasures I’ve found.
This service is now fully subscribed!
This year, I wrote a book called “In the Jumble” (www.inthejumble.co.uk) – all about the joys of finding, buying and wearing second hand clothes. It’s a fun read, but also shares tips, ideas and suggestions on how to build a useful, practical and beautiful wardrobe by shopping in this way. I’m so delighted about it, and I hope that it encourages more people to try their hand at finding treasures in their local charity shops. Launching on November 5th 2016, it will be available on Amazon.
I can honestly say that I’ve never looked back from my decision to become a stylist, and that through meeting Gail and training with her, my life has completely changed. Lucky me, I get to help other people re-discover joy in their wardrobe and find more confidence in themselves every day.