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There’s no such thing as a chance meeting. It was a Sunday evening, and I was scheduled to meet my family at a nearby restaurant to celebrate my cousin Michesa’s birthday. I did not feel well, however, I decided to push myself.
After dinner, my family and I had a full-fledged photo shoot, as we customarily do; which also made me feel better : ) . As we were taking usies, selfies, boomerangs, slow motion videos, and anything else that involved posing strategically, I noticed my IG friend Michele of eLevated Style Studio across the room doing the same. Michele and her husband had their very own photo shoot session.
My cousin is a born connector, and pulled Michele to the side to make sure I was able to connect with her. The first thing I said to Michele was…”I know you, I follow you on IG!” I’m not sure if it’s just me, but IG has a way of making me feel like I know complete strangers. LOL.
I shared my IG page with Michele to tell her about the MoMedia Blog, and we both realized that she followed me as well. We laughed, had a group hug, with cousins Kim and Michesa, and had a brief conversation about how I had intended on reaching out to her via IG a few weeks back.
One week after meeting Michele, we met for lunch to discuss her feature on the MoMedia Blog. Our meeting, which was intended to last an hour, lasted well over 4 hours. Speaking with Michele felt like speaking with a long time friend. Michele is personable, funny, super smart, resourceful, a closet organizing machine, fashionable to the 1000th power, and what I think is most admirable about Michele, is her genuine spirit.
Michele and I talked about her experiences as the President of eLevated Style Studio, her fashion blog, wardrobe styling, closet organization, her experience being featured on WUSA9 Great Day Washington multiple times, and how she balances her various endeavors, while being a wife and mother of 3.
As we wrapped our conversation, it dawned on me, that Michele’s love for fashion and passion to help people look within to become their best selves is really a form of therapy…That’s it! I said, “Michele the title of your feature is Fashion Therapy is in Session!”
And here we are…ladies and gentlemen, meet my friend, Michele Lee Clements aka Meech, Chief Fashionista and Stylist-at-Large at eLevated Style Studio! Meech thank you for being even more awesome in real life, than you are on the internet! You are truly a gem! : )
1. When did you establish Elevated Style Studio and what was your inspiration?
eLevated style studio was officially established in the Summer of 2016 but I have been organizing wardrobes and styling friends and family without an official business name for at least a decade. Honestly, I have always found organizing to be cathartic so marrying my love for fashion and organizing closets was a no brainer.
2. What services do you offer?
If you are in a style rut, you’re in luck! eLevated style studio is here to do the work for you. Our Chief Fashionista knows all the hottest items from edgy street style to sophisticated chic and is the go-to source for creative inspiration on what’s right to wear, right now. Our services are:
– a style assessment designed to define your individual style and show you ways to elevate your style to the next level, stepping outside of your fashion box and taking your appearance up a notch. This session will teach you to make fashion choices that both suit your defined style and get you noticed. an “eLevate your style” session can be achieved by mixing and matching items you currently own (in your closet, by personal shopping trips to add key pieces you may be missing, or a mix of both options.
– how can you ever learn your style if you don’t know what you already have? your stylist will assess your current wardrobe including shoes, bags, and accessories and conduct a thorough cleansing purge using a 3-step process. This service requires a 2-hour minimum appointment.
– have a photo shoot session scheduled for an annual family, holiday photo, engagement, birthday or other special occasion and have no idea what to wear? Whether at a professional studio or an informal iPhone shoot, this session takes the stress out of planning your wardrobe style so you can enjoy posing for the camera and look great in your photos. This service requires at least a 2-week advance booking notification, but we will do our best to accommodate last-minute scheduling.
– in case you need a reminder of your personal style, this service will provide you with your own “lookbook” – professional photos of you in your current new look. hair/makeup/photography included.
3. What advice do you offer someone who desires to transition into becoming a fashion blogger and / or fashion stylist?
Just do it! If you believe that you have a talent to share with the world, don’t second guess yourself. Start writing down your ideas for your blog posts and then go online and create a blog. There are so many free sites with user friendly templates to get you started. If you love fashion styling, start styling. You are your own billboard ad. Wear what you love and your creativity will show through. I’m sure other people have more sage advice – intern with so and so, follow so and so, take such and such class, read this book. But no one else is you. So invest in your own creative juices and let them flow – make time for yourself and your dreams and just do it. The universe will open whatever doors you need and the wisdom and experiences you gain, the lessons you will learn will be invaluable.
4. What resources do you suggest for those interested in becoming a fashion blogger / fashion stylist?
Your blog needs to have a personal feel; your readers need to feel like you are speaking directly to them. If you aren’t a natural born writer but you have the gift of gab, write the way you speak. Blogging doesn’t require a journalism degree. Of course, the internet and social media are great resources for a style/fashion blogger. That’s where you are going to see what the stars are wearing or what was shown on the runways of all the Fashion Weeks. But my favorite resource is the city streets. I love to see what people put on to come outside, to go to work, to go to the ballet. I get so many ideas from a piece here and there – and not just women, men as well. Street style is definitely a huge resource. And, of course, if you are interested in design, there are numerous fashion design schools. I attended a traditional liberal arts university, but if I had to pick a school of fashion it would be FIT in NYC.
5. Take us through your process when styling a client.
Every client is unique so every styling session is different. I always start with a consultation, even when the client is sure about what they want. A client may hire me for closet organization but what they really need is to see how to make their closet work for their needs. The cluttered closet is just a symptom of a bigger issue – not being able to visualize how the clothes in the closet go together in a way that tells the client’s personal style story. I can make your closet worthy or a Martha Stewart “Living” feature, but if you don’t know what to do with the clothes inside of it, you have wasted money paying me. Or a client may hire me because they admire my style and want to change their style. Which is fine BUT making little carbon copies of my style doesn’t address the root of the problem. The symptom is “I want to change my style” but the issue is that the client doesn’t know what story they want to tell, if they want to tell the story at all. Style is personal, so all I do is help people embrace who they really are or find who they really are comfortable being. Once we reach that breakthrough point, the fashion part is easy!
6. Where does your personal style inspiration come from?
This is always a hard question for me because I find inspiration in so many random things, not just fashion magazines or what my favorite stars are wearing, or what the best fashion houses are showcasing on the runway. If I had to pick one inspiration for my personal style it would be my paternal grandmother Faye. She was always such a sharp dresser, even when she was spending a day in the house. I can’t recall ever seeing her in a pair of jeans (I can’t even imagine not being in a pair of jeans!). She was never over the top with her style but she always turned heads. She shopped at stores like Marshall Fields, Woodies and Hecht’s, so I am pretty sure she wasn’t wearing Gucci or Yves Saint Laurent but everything she put on was classic yet modern. She always had a pair of leather gloves and the best hats. Had I recognized what a treasure trove her closet was when I was in my teens and twenties, I would have a vintage wardrobe to die for right now.
7. Where does style inspiration come from when working with clients?
I simply listen to my clients. I am good at listening and discerning what people need in a given situation, I come to a session with ideas in my head, visions of what I think will work for the client but that can change once we have a conversation. I’m not here to force anyone to do anything. I don’t want my clients to feel uncomfortable. But I am going to push them out of their boxes and encourage them to come out from their comfort zones. I always strive to see the best in people, to find a positive attribute to focus on, and that is what I look to bring out in my clients when I do a style makeover.
8. As a busy wife, mom, and business owner, what are a few tools you incorporate into your life to manage everything?
My iPhone is ground zero for managing my life. The operating system is so good that now it detects possible appointments/engagements from my email and asks if I want to add them to my calendar. I love that! I use my phone calendar for me and use a separate calendar for my family. It’s via an app called Cozi so everyone can access the calendar and add to it. In the same way Cozi manages my household shopping list – when the kids run out of their favorite snacks they can add them to the shopping list and all I have to do is pull out my phone on a Target run to see what is needed. Cozi is so great because everyone in the family can see everyone else’s schedule as well as their own so it’s no longer incumbent on me to keep track of everything for everybody.
I also use an app called Convey, which allows me to send my business card electronically. I love love love this app when it comes to networking. If I hand someone my card, I have to wait for them to contact me. What if they drop my card in the bottomless pit of their purse, what are the chances that I will ever be able to connect with them again. With Convey, I can send my card to a phone or email address and that phone/email is saved to my Convey contacts. I’ve been able to follow up with so many potential clients using Convey in ways I never could with my printed card.
But as awesome as technology is, I still own a good old fashioned organizer and write stuff down. The difference is that my organizer is solely for me. My events. My appointments. My reminders. Nothing about my kids’ football or lacrosse games or their dance performances or school events. Anything in my organizer has to pertain directly to me. My organizer is made by Happy Planner, a company that allows you to customize the planner to fit your needs. It’s great for me because I can see my entire month at a glance and it also has inspirational sayings and prompts to make me think.
9. What/who inspires you?
I get inspiration from so many things – nature, the colors that occur during Spring and Fall, birds, bees, butterflies, anything that catches my eye. I am also inspired by what I see other people wearing, street style, how people take something ordinary and make it look expensive and exclusive. How people own what they wear and dress with pride. I love that. I am more inspired by the confidence that someone wears, than I am by the designer labels someone wears. Watching style cycle back is inspirational to me – all style is cyclical yes but it always comes back a little different, more modern, or with a different twist.
10. What drives you?
My second child, my first son, was a micro preemie, born at 2 pounds, 15 weeks early. He was due in November and born in July. He came suddenly, he was a breach baby and he had to be taken in the OR by C-section. It all happened so fast, there was no one in the operating room with me besides the medical staff and God. Anything you could imagine going wrong in that room, went wrong. I remember telling God to just make sure my baby was okay over me. He was delivered and spent the next 3 months in the hospital NICU where he went through so many health struggles and fought his way through so many serious conditions. He was diagnosed with mild autism as a result of a grade 4 brain bleed he suffered during his stay (no one’s fault -his brain just wasn’t as strong as it needed to be). He came home attached to a heart monitor and an oxygen tank and with more prescriptions and doctors appointments than we knew how to handle. He has struggled and fought for each and every gain he has made and has always had a smile on his face and the kindest of hearts. He thinks of everyone else first and would give you his last – I literally have to tell him to stop always doing everything for everyone he meets. This child is now 14 and never complains -if he gets upset with anything it’s always at himself never anyone else. My son David Donevin motivates me like nothing else. If he can do all he’s done, if he can be an honor roll student at a competitive Catholic school and be an athlete, and he can get up every morning and face the day with a positive attitude and be kind and nice to people even though people haven’t always been kind to him because of his differing ability – if he can do all that and hardly ever complain, how dare I say I can’t do something. I will give up when he does. Period.
11. What’s your favorite Bible Scripture?
1 Corinthians 13. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
12. Where do you want to see your brand in the next 5 years?
Ahhhhhh, this question always makes me uncomfortable (insert cringe face emoji). Of course, of course, I want my business to grow so I can quit my day job and fully focus on my dreams. Of course, of course, I would love to style the rich and famous and be mentioned when someone is spotted in an outfit that is a style slay. But honestly, if where I am now is where I am in 5 years, I am okay with that. I get so much satisfaction out of helping everyday women evolve and grow, to stop being afraid of change, to open up and show people who they really are. If what I am called to do is meant to be on a local scale, so be it. But, the flip side of that is, that’s comfortable me talking. I take the Biblical parable of the talents seriously and I am not trying to be preachy but I know God doesn’t give us our own specific and unique gifts and talents for us to sit on or bury. So I know there is way more in store for me and eLevated style studio. My dream is that my styling business will be the means by which I can finance eLevated studios. eLevated studios is one big space with a bunch of different departments under its umbrella. It houses my style studio where I continue with my current organization and styling business. It houses a wellness and fitness studio for women, where I offer various boutique fitness classes as well as health and self-care workshops, and spa services. It houses seminar rooms that can be booked by other entrepreneurs for all kinds of classes from writing a business plan, to writing the next great novel. I really envision eLevated studios as a one-stop shop where women come in to be uplifted in whatever way they need and leave empowered and informed. And, as a personal want, I would like to have a party room on the lower level that includes a mini bowling alley and a roller skating rink. Because that’s how I personally would like to unwind with friends. So that is my wishlist/5 year plan for me and my brand. Anything above and beyond that is welcome as well and will be icing on a dream cake.
FASHION THERAPY IS IN SESSION with Michele Lee Clements,
Chief Fashionista and Stylist-at-Large, eLevated Style Studio!
FaceBook: eLevated Style Studio
Signed with LOVE…Monique