#BEYOUROWN MEETS LINDA PARRY
Personal style consultant Linda Parry and Lola Grace founder is a graduate of the prestigious London College Of Style. With an impressive background in customer relations and extensive experience working with VIP clients and luxury brands, it’s evident that fashion is her passion. With both of her children leaving home, Linda now has the time to spend on fulfilling her own dreams and ambitions of helping others to look and feel great through Linda Grace.
Hey Linda, can you give us a litle background information?
Hi there, I’m Linda Parry, married with a grown-up son and daughter and me live in East Sussex. I am a personal stylist and founder of Lola Grace.
My husband and I have recently completed the build of our new house and I can’t wait to move in!!! The house came prefabricated from Germany and was shipped over in several large lorries, ready to be craned into place once the foundations were ready. Its been a fantastic project and one that Id love to get involved with again in the future.
We moved out of London to a quieter area with more land and beautiful views and this environment is perfect for my job as there are many beautiful individual shops and boutiques nearby. I love introducing clients to new designers and finding unusual items which you wouldn’t see on the High Street. My other passion is Interior Design and I’m having a ball researching soft furnishings and lighting.
We have built a gym in the house and my plan is to find a great teacher and hold private yoga classes there, which will help me meet local like-minded people and keep me fit and focused.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
I have worked for large corporates most of my life, mainly in roles which involved dealing with people and organising events. My last job was based at a small private airport, where I was responsible for looking after our VIP clients which included Royals and celebrities. I was approached by several luxury brands who were keen to showcase their products in our beautiful lounges, which I successfully facilitated. Working with so many beautiful things inspired me to follow my lifelong passion which is fashion and interior design. For me, the two worlds are linked as they both involve colour, texture, shape and fit, which could describe designing a room or choosing an outfit.
Over the years I have been asked by many friends to help them choose clothes for an occasion, and I had a lightbulb moment last year when one friend suggested I should do this for a living. I started to research suitable courses and eventually decided to enroll with the London College of Style.
After graduating, I was so excited to get going, so with the help of my son I set up my website and the birth of Lola Grace became real.
What is a day in the life of you like?
My days at the moment are filled with researching local boutiques so that I can build up a portfolio of great shops to take clients to. I am building relationships so that my clients are made to feel special as soon as they arrive. I have also had the privilege of being asked to speak at Style Events run by popular High Street Fashion stores, and this has boosted my confidence hugely. I get great satisfaction in helping women and men look and feel their best. I actively post on Instagram and already have more than 5,000 followers which make me realise that lots of people out there love what I love!
Can you tell us about your time spent at the prestigious London College of Style
I had no idea what to expect really when I enrolled, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the class was a mix of ages, nationalities, and abilities. Some of the students had already completed other courses run by the College and had come back to further their development, and others like myself were either working in fashion already or contemplating a new career in styling.
The team at the College were so inspiring and encouraging and very hands on. Their enthusiasm for teaching was second to none and I quickly realised that this was the passion I should have been following years ago. The camaraderie between the students was just amazing and we supported each other. I was actually quite sad when the course ended as I had built such lovely relationships with some of the other girls, but we all still keep in touch to share advice and tips.
VIP clients and Luxury Brands – one of my favourite projects
Gosh, this is a hard question as I have so many great stories I could share with you but I think my favourite project was one I did for Ford Cars when I worked in the private airport terminal. They were looking for a very large space to showcase some new car models and which was to highlight and compare the brightness of the headlights of their car to the headlights of a plane. They wanted to invite various journalists along for comment and then stay for lunch. We had a beautiful hangar full of private jets, which was the perfect backdrop for their photo shoot, so not only did they have a fantastic venue to entertain their guests, I also managed to organise the arrival of a similar type of small aircraft they had used in their TV and whilst they were enjoying their champagne! The work involved in coordinating the project was huge and I did have sleepless nights in the run-up to the day itself but it was so much fun and Ford was so appreciative.
Supporting British Brands
I love to support British brands because it allows me to form relationships directly with designers. Its easy for clients to give feedback and I can quickly pass on information. It’s also nice to know that if a client wants a bespoke item then it’s usually possible. I tend to promote brands through Instagram as its such a great platform to spread the word.
Top 3 British Brands to work with
My top 3 British brands to work with are:
One Hundred Stars
I feel that brand authenticity plays a key role in business building because a good brand brings value to the development of my business and quickly helps me to develop the trusted relationships I need with my clients. This works both ways as I know that when working closely with a well-established brand I can generate more sales at promotional events.
What 3 tips would you give to someone looking to work in the fashion industry
- Listen to the client. They have commissioned you to advise but they still have an opinion on what they like. It’s all about compromise.
- Be honest. My job is to make my clients look and feel their best. They deserve honesty as they are putting their trust in you.
- Never underestimate your own opinions – if people love what you do, you are doing great!
Where can you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?
My plan for the next few years is to incorporate my personal styling and my love of interior design into a lifestyle business, into which I can incorporate the private yoga classes. I want to be able to dress the client, help them design their home and keep them fit!! My dream would be to have a handful of loyal clients who could rely on me to help them run their lives!
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled in professionally as a style consultant?
To be honest, I can’t say that I’ve really struggled at all so far. It’s always a challenge setting up a new business and you never know how successful it’s going to be. I think if you love what you do, you can get over the lows and focus on the highs still to come. There are many stylists out there and we all have different ideas. I think its more about the sort of person you are that attracts people to put their trust in you with something that’s very personal.
Have you ever had any other mentor?
I’ve never had a mentor but I hugely admire older women who really know how to dress well. Fashion is for everyone, and age is no barrier. I would love to think that when I’m 70 I’ll still love shopping and will still get excited about buying a new handbag or shoes!
What outlets do you use to market your services?
I use my website and Instagram mainly. I’m just about to advertise in a magazine which concentrates on my local area. It’s a lifestyle magazine which focusses on local businesses, eating out and fashion. Again by keeping it local, I can build up relationships which for me is very important.
What do you believe are the popular misconceptions about being a personal style consultant?
I believe that some people may look upon style consultants as an unnecessary expense because they feel that they wouldn’t want to pay someone to take them shopping. The real story is that many people have lost confidence in their appearance for whatever reason and need gentle guidance to get them back on track. Whether it be that someone has lost or gained weight, been through a traumatic experience or maybe met a new partner, a trusted person who can make you feel your best can be a godsend. There are of course many people who really don’t like shopping or just don’t have the time to shop and this is where I can help. I can do the research and have a selection of items waiting for you in the changing room of your favourite shop!
What would you like to see changed for millennials in business?
Millennials look for a work/life balance and flexibility and unlike the last generation, they won’t stick around if they don’t feel they are valued. They need to be encouraged in career growth and development plans so that they can move into leadership positions quickly.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date
The best piece of advice I’ve had is to STOP STRESSING. You can’t change what hasn’t yet happened so worrying about the future is pointless. Easier said than done I know, but what I’ve started doing is making lists. It’s all so much easier if it’s written down and you can deal with your list one thing at a time.
What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned in your career so far?
Don’t be tempted to change course from what you believe in, because your instincts are usually right. Many people will try to give you advice and sometimes it’s helpful but stay true to your dreams and if you make mistakes along the way, they will only make you more determined to get it right next time.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
Because I operate from home, and I know in advance when my client appointments are, it’s easy to balance work and home life. If I’m with a client for half a day, I still have the other half to catch up with home life. If I have a free day, I can visit my local boutiques and see what’s trending. I’m also lucky that I have a husband who is fully supportive of the business and is pretty self-sufficient when he needs to be.
The Highlight of your career so far
The highlight for me has been meeting so many lovely people who are happy to put their trust in you and allow you to be part of something that’s very personal. These relationships are very important to me and I would like to think they go beyond just the styling.
What gives you the ultimate career satisfaction
The ultimate satisfaction for me is gained when a client realises that they look amazing and they tell you that its all down to you.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
Rosie Davies – Founder of the London Fashion Agency. Rosie started up her PR agency in 2013 with a goal in mind to give independent brands a bigger platform. She runs an affordable monthly subscription fee to allow young creatives to showcase their artistic talents. This has made it possible for people who would never have been able to afford the fees that the big PR agencies charge to get their names out there. I admire her because she has made a huge difference in the PR world and constantly strived to retain a very successful business.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I recently read a book called ‘The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down – How To Be Calm In A Busy World.’ I think the title speaks volumes. When we slow down, we see more and hear more which in turn makes us listen more.
3 Podcast playlist channels?
- ‘At Home With……’
- ‘How I Built This’
- ‘Yoga Land’
How do you measure your own terms of success?
For me, success is measured in fulfillment. When a client messages you to tell you she’s so delighted with her new look, or someone who hasn’t been outside her front door for months because of anxiety issues is willing to trust you and come out shopping with you. That’s the best testament to my success.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
To me, it means to be your own person, listen to your heart, be kind always. I’ve always worked and enjoyed being financially independent. My career allows me to fulfill a lifelong passion and for that, I feel very lucky.
What is next for throughout the rest of 2018?
To finish decorating my home and get settled. To meet lots more inspiring people and stay healthy and happy. To continue to challenge myself professionally and personally, and be the woman that makes my family proud.