House of Coco grabbed a drink with Aga Moodley, founder of I A.M the Brand, a personal stylist consultancy with a very personal approach. We spoke about childhood memories of amazing, handmade outfits, Kim Kardashian and becoming a mother.
HOC: Great to speak with you Aga! We’d love to start at the beginning, how did you come to being a stylist?
AM: Hello, I guess let’s start right at the beginning! I come from Poland and when I was a child it was under the Soviet dominance and there was nothing in the shops. At that time I lived in an all-generation house and my Mum and Grandmum used to make clothes. All the time sewing and knitting. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep at night because of the sewing machine noise! Even while there was nothing in the shops, my sister and me always looked different. Everyone would look at our clothes confused and ask ‘how is this possible?!’. The usual way to get new clothes would be when people brought things over from other countries or bought from import shops and we weren’t that family with dollars to spend.
So, growing up we had lots of clothes and they were always different that anyone else’s. My mum would always say that it was good to be unique and she’d say the same about toys. Like, when I wanted a Barbie my mum would ask, why do you want a Barbie, everyone has a Barbie! I learnt that it’s good to express yourself through clothes and it’s okay to look different.
HOC: It’s amazing that you can trace your love of clothes back to being a child! Can you talk us through how you work with your clients now?
AM: I offer a number of services to my clients. Some I work with regularly on a number of things and for others, it can be more of an ad hoc set up or coaching on where to shop, how to shop, how to build a capsule wardrobe, how to define a personal style… I offer Personal Shopping, Wardrobe Makeovers and Styling for particular events and I customise these to clients’ specific requirements. Of course, some of my clients do have the funds for high-end designer shopping, which is a lot of fun and can be an amazing experience for my client to get great service at a store! However, some of my clients have a defined budget and I teach them how to manage their finances and always look amazing. We work with what they have and a defined budget. One thing I see very often, no matter who I’m working with, is that people buy things impulsively, the bigger bargain, the better, even it doesn’t suit them! When I do wardrobe makeovers, I go through huge amounts of items of clothing that people keep and never wear!
HOC: I’m sure that we are guilty of that! Why do you find that people work with stylists?
AM: Some people just don’t have time to shop, I have a few clients who ask me to pick up things for specific events and, because I know them well, I can find them something great without going shopping with them. Some want to learn what to wear, some want to develop a new image. No matter what the reason, there’s always a massive self-development aspect of the process. Other people just aren’t into clothes that much, it’s not their top priority. I find, as well, that as women get older many seem to think less about what they are wearing. As my mum says: “ When you’re my age, you won’t care about clothes. You will appreciate other things in life”. But soon after that she’ll happily talk about what someone else is wearing.
I really believe that a person’s look affects and reflects their life; all aspects of it. It surely affects our mood but also our mood dictates what we will wear. What we wear and how we look is a key part of our brand, and this message I wanted to convey through the name of my business –‘I A.M the Brand’. I believe we’re unique and fashion is such a great tool to use when defining ourselves.
What I also pride myself on is that I have deep empathy and really do understand people. I’ve been through my fair share of things… This empathy helps me to be a good stylist as a good stylist is not only a fashion guru but a great psychologist. I “cure” the causes of overspending, not looking after oneself, hoarding, wrong fashion choices and I very much aim to give people confidence to value themselves and show that value through what they wear.
HOC: You are a new mother, how has that changed your life and your work?
AM: Yes, finally! It took a long time for our little girl to come to us. It was actually a pretty hard time to get to this point. I know many people don’t feel this but I have always wanted to be a mother. It has always felt like the most natural thing for me. So, when we weren’t conceiving easily it made me very, very upset. I did fall into a depression and, at times, it was hard to even leave the house for work. My husband was very supportive and helped me through but it was a really dark time.
Now that she’s here it’s so wonderful. Not to say that it’s not exhausting and sometimes me and my husband wish we had more time for us! We always have to think about what to do to keep her occupied and happy. But she goes to work with me sometimes too. When she was very small I did bring her to my events and to some of my regular client appointments.
HOC: If any of our readers wanted to explore a career in styling, what training would you recommend they look at?
AM: I have done some formal styling training (Fashion Marketing Elective – ‘London College of Fashion’ & Stylist Course – ‘Style Me Academy’) and there’s all the classic theories about body shape etc. but what it’s really about is knowing what looks good on people and how to work with people and understand what they need. Rather than worry too much about trends my approach to styling focuses on the background personality characteristics of an individual and using this as a frame of reference when applying styling techniques with clothing. I want to empower my clients.
HOC: How do you market yourself?
AM: Since the beginning of the year I’ve been running styling events. I bring 20 women to one place and they get to meet me and speak to me about their personal style. I find a face-to-face interaction very important. A client must get to know the stylist they decide to work with. They invest a lot of money and they need to take the most out of such a session. I really love making people happy. In the future I’d like to do such events also for men as I don’t believe its just women who want this!
There’s so many topics that I want to run events on. There will be some events that are just stylist specific and more open events incorporating more lifestyle things. In June I’ll do a celebrity style experience, catwalk, photos and my guest speaker is a plus size model, who will teach the group about how to feel confident. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Social Network, well Mark Zuckerberg says in it ’the biggest successes come from our insecurities’ and I really believe that, you need to change your insecurities into something positive.
At these events I also love to promote other businesses, people and ideas I believe in. It’s important to experience things for them to work for you. For instance, reading about some diet that Kim Kardashian lost a lot of weight on doesn’t mean anything, you need to personalise the service.
HOC: How do you find these complimentary brands you partner with and make sure they will represent your brand well?
AM: When I meet a person I naturally always want to know what they do! At a recent event I ran there was a nutritionist who I had met a few years ago at another event and then she recommended the chef who also joined us. I always want to know a person before I want to relate them to my business. So, I meet the person, I see what they do, I hear how they speak and I get to know them.
HOC: The way that you talk about styling and clothes makes absolute sense. What are you planning for the future of I A.M the Brand?
AM: More events, definitely and I do really want to work more with men, maybe even with couples. There are a lot of people who I can help and make happy through what I do. That’s why I enjoy what I do!
Thanks for taking the time to speak with House of Coco Aga, we love your mission to support others to express themselves through what they wear at I A.M the Brand. We know that Sophia Amoruso, who made the phrase #GirlBoss so popular would love it too!