Meet Soneca Guadara, creator of Style by Soneca. Lifestyle Blogger, Fashion Stylist, proud Latina and mom to four kids. From Miami to the burbs of New Jersey (Yes, you can say she is a real housewife of New Jersey) this fabulous fashionista not only has a keen eye for fashion but she has amazing taste for interior decor and fashionable entertaining.
Soneca is a certified Fashion Stylist from NYC’s world-renowned Fashion Institute of Technology, she has worked backstage at various fashion shows for NYFW, has her own fashion column for BCthemagazine, is an on-air fashion and lifestyle expert on Unimas for Viernes y Mas, stays current working with various photographers and stylists where her work has been published in magazines not mention working with clients helping them with their fashion needs.
Soneca’s blog is all about how she likes to mix styles and price points to make a statement, she can wear something from Target and Hermes all in the same look. Wearing designer clothing from head to toe is not necessary. As Soneca says “It’s all about looking good in your clothing and most importantly feeling fabulous!” She believes that women of all ages should wear what they like. If they got it then rock it!
Hey Soneca, can you introduce yourself to us?
I am a personal fashion stylist, style writer, on-air fashion correspondent in the NYC metropolitan area. My motto is: Helping women feel beautiful and confident. “Great style at any Age.”
Talk to us about your keen eye for fashion and your journey to where you are now as a fashion stylist?
Growing up I was surrounded by strong beautiful women. My mother is from the Dominican Republic and coming from a Latina culture, women pride themselves on always being dressed up. God forbid anyone saw my mother without makeup. The style was always an important feature. Not so much idolised the way fashion and style are today. What I remember growing up was all about the quality of the garment. This was a must.
When I would go shopping with my mother on Saturdays, she always pointed out how the garment was made and what made it stand out as a well-made piece. My father is Scottish and Canadian and he too always told me how important quality was versus price. In fact, his favourite saying was and still is: Dress like a British and spend like a Yiddish. Overspending for a label was not important. The way name brands are marketed did not exist back in the day. However, if a well-made garment that was designer was on sale, well that was the way to go. Fast forward to today and I guess a lot of what my parents have instilled in me has helped me be the stylist that I have become. My love of style and fashion has always been innate. However, the thought of going to fashion school was never a thought. Instead, I became a High School History teacher and later received a Masters degree in Administration and Supervision.
I had the opportunity to build my house from scratch and it was thru this process that my love for design and style came through. I received so many compliments about my home, from the architecture to my paint colours, lighting fixtures etc that I decided to open up a home accessory store. It was called Romanza after Andrew Botticelli’s song.
My store was a mixture of old with new. I carried Shabby Chic linens, exquisite antiques and all things white and pastel. I had my store for about 4 years until I decided to close it since it was a real full-time job and my children were wee little ones. I loved shopping for my store, helping my customers pick out pieces for their homes I knew I had a passion to be surrounded by beautiful things. So as the years went by and my children were getting older, my love for beautiful things did not escape me. I would always get stopped for my style and I was even featured in my local magazine just for my style. I felt like a celebrity. So one summer I decided to take some classes over at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. One thing led to another and I ended up graduating and receiving a certificate in fashion styling. I then preceded to intern with a PR agency, I assisted countless stylists, worked on shoots, backstage as a wardrobe stylist at NYFW. Doing this all against a very competitive field, surrounded by young millennials.
At times I felt overwhelmed, but I persisted and didn’t let that get me down. Then one day, I had an ‘aha’ Moment, after reading up on a stylist who turned herself from Fashion to Personal Styling. That’s when I decided I would have much more freedom because I could set my own hours and have more creative freedom, and lastly make women feel beautiful and confident. Helping women who were also reinventing themselves just as I did.
As a certified fashion stylist, can you tell us what and where you studied and what you took away from the experience in order to apply it to your career as of date?
When working with new clients It is very important that we are both on the same page. I typically will do a 20 min style consult, if I feel the client is ready then I will proceed to send them a questionnaire, that will enable me to see what their goals are how I can help them achieve them. We will discuss their budget and then the fun begins.
Working on various shows for NYFW, what is your method of approach when it comes to working with new clients and expanding your portfolio?
I stay on trend by attending fashion shows, I write for various style publications and every now and then I will come on as an on-air fashion/beauty correspondent.
Where can you see yourself within the next 3-5 years?
I like to see myself as an established brand within the next 3 to 5 years I also want to do more TV, and maybe even have my own style show online.
Who are your three favourite high street retailers to work with?
My high street stores are Zara, The Out-net, and Asos. I get my fix by purchasing high-end products always at a fraction of the cost. Then I pair it with low-cost fashion. I know a lot of women who think they are so stylish because they are dressed head to toe in a high-end brand, however, quite the contrary.
How are you mixing them with high-end Haute Couture designers?
It’s not so much about having a brand head to toe, it’s about the story you make. I can snatch up a dress from Zara, pair it with a designer belt, add a good pair of sunglasses, my hair and makeup is done and most everyone thinks I spent a lot of money on my look. As a personal stylist, I also pride myself as an image consultant. Some may argue that both are nowhere near the same, however, style is about putting an image and the story you tell from how you wear your hair to the type of makeup you wear.
What outlets do use to promote Style By Soneca?
At the moment I am very big on Instagram. Slowly but steadily building an organic following. My website, Facebook the articles I write and time to time when I am on TV, helps me build my following.
What or who inspires and motives you?
I guess you can say I motivate myself. Every day is a different day with unexpected challenges in addition to my regular routine. I am driven to be successful. Reinventing myself in my 40s is somewhat difficult because I am older, but at the same time I have life experience and that helps a lot too! I have felt sometimes overwhelmed by roadblocks I have faced, but my positive drive keeps me going and that ultimately motivates me.
Is there a staple look that you go for?
My go-to outfit consists of dark denim jeans, a blazer, and a white shirt. Button down or t-shirt. Depending upon where I am going, I can dress this look up or down. With a pair of heels, or dad sneakers.
A highlight in your career so far?
When my peers recognised me as a personal fashion stylist. Reinventing myself, paying my dues I wasn’t quite sure if anyone noticed. But when other designers and fashion-related individuals have sought me out, I was thinking “wow” I have arrived.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
My ultimate career satisfaction is when my clients feel good about themselves. Their smile and gratitude radiate. This makes me so happy to see my client radiating confidence. Whether, its to go on a date, a red carpet event speaking in front of their peers or just creating an outfit for their day to day, if my client feels good, this makes me happy.
What challenges have you seen to have been presented during the growth of your career?
The fashion industry is super competitive. Social media makes it look so glamorous, yet the life of a stylist is hard work and time-consuming. A Lot of the younger generation, all want to be a stylist but they don’t necessarily know how you need to work your way up. Instagram makes it look like everyone can be a stylist. Because so many people want the same job, getting jobs that pay even as an assistant is super competitive.
I have 4 kids and one with special needs, this has been a challenge because they are my top priority and its been somewhat hard for me to really work the demanding hours a fashion stylist works. However, as I mentioned, these have been just roadblocks, but I have not let these things stop me from pursuing my passion and my family has been very supportive and for that, I am very grateful.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I wish I had more time to read. however, whenever I am in the supermarket at the check out line, I will glance at gossip articles and quickly glance at the fashion magazines.
One book, that I love fashion related that I read a while ago, is ‘Dress your Best’ by Clinton Kelly and Stacey London. I did a TV show with Stacey a few years back. So I really enjoyed reading this book about fashion and style.
Top 3 go-to Podcast channels?
- Amy Porterfield’s ‘Beyond Influential Love,’ what she has to say and share.
- Aileen Xu’s ‘Lavendaire,’ on how to create your own vision.
- ‘Mind Your Business’ with James Wedmore.
Podcasts are typically 45 min in duration and easy to listen to when I am in the car driving. As you can see these are not fashion related, but more so business related and motivating you to do your best and follow your dream.
How do you define your own success?
Helping women find their confidence through their style. Enabling them to reach their goals by exuding confidence. Being a brand and name that makes people feel good about themselves, Knowing that people can count on me for making their wishes come true, whether editing their closet or getting ready for a major event. My ultimate success when I have my own TV show dedicated to all things Fashion and Beauty related. I am also in the process of creating my own nonprofit organisation to help women and children form social impact. I want to empower them, honour and inspire. To bring awareness, bolster self-confidence, promote healing and honour courage. I want to do this for women who are experiencing cancer, have been incarcerated, domestic violence just to name a few. This is on my to do list, I will feel complete once I get this done!!
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
#BEYOUROWN to me means being a better person, believe in myself and give back. I believe in persistence and saying and expressing myself the way I want to. I am not a follower but rather a leader.
Finally, what are you working on throughout 2019?
Thank you for wanting to share my story. It’s still a work in progress, I still have many more chapters to write!