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Today I am so honoured to interview and share the words of this lady. I have known of Bernadette since I was 4 years old, she was a year above me at school and in my school everyone knew everyone. Were we close friends? – not at all however we still connected on that beautiful thing of Facebook. #whenfacebookisgood
Facebook gave me the opportunity to watch Bernadette as she began her business That’s my Style and see her grow and take some serious massive action. Fast forward some years, Facebook messenger chats and random phone calls and I have now had the opportunity to not only consult with her, to refer clients to her and I would like to think now be able to call her a friend!
She exudes warmth and is so passionate about helping women feel great I thought it was only fitting that she kicks off this new series where I interview Women in Action.
In this interview we talk about confidence, breaking rules, mum guilt and more – I hope you enjoy!
MW : I understand you are a fashion stylist – can you tell us a little bit more about what this means to you and how you came to be in this industry and why you are so passionate about what you do?
BP: My journey to becoming a stylist has been a lengthy but authentic one. I chose my high school just so I could study textiles and design. Then straight from school I sat an exam and was accepted into the Design school at East Sydney. I worked hard for 2 years studying and learning the technical aspects of pattern-making, design, sewing and the detailed science behind fibres and fabrications. I graduated with no idea what jobs were out there for me. Breaking into the industry was tough. A qualification meant nothing to prospective employees. I lost track of how many jobs I had. It was fickle and soul destroying. I jumped around taking different roles for years before moving to London. I returned to Sydney and my dream job at 28. I was travelling, sourcing, designing and running a 3 million dollar account. I loved it although I had total imposter syndrome. The responsibility was consuming at times but I was running on adrenaline and travelling the world.
I have always been passionate and creative. I love being with people and helping them to feel confident in their own skin. I believe it takes all of those things to be a stylist and I feel like this career really chose me. The journey to arrive at That’s my style was very rocky but I wouldn’t change it as it shaped me for my role as a stylist. I am working with people at a very vulnerable level that I can relate to.
MW: What was the pulling force that helped you choose to step away from working for someone else to working as a solopreneur?
BP: It was an easy decision for many reasons. The fashion manufacturing industry (known as the rag trade ) had changed dramatically since I entered it in 1996. My role was becoming less creative and more budget driven.
I was being forced to make ethical decisions regarding factories that didn’t sit right with me at all.
I was pretty much fed up working for corporate industry and for men that had no concept of women having a career and being a mum. After I had my first child I had to return full time and overseas travel or resign. I resigned and was poached by a new company that agreed my terms. This meant I was the only women in 2008 within my industry that held the position of account manager whilst working part time. I had to constantly fight to justify working part time and was always made to feel guilty. It was all about budget and turnover. Crazy, that they got away with it. I took an agreed redundancy after having my 3rd child as I was sick of justifying my life to my boss. Best thing I did. I felt incredibly free. My family was always my priority. ‘That’s My style’ was born out of that redundancy.
MW: You are a mum of three, a wife, sister, friend AND run a successful business… many would be wondering how you do it all! What advice would you give to other women out there reading this who think they can’t… They may be in the beginnings of their business and doing the juggle struggle?
BP: That’s a good question. I don’t do all areas well at the same time. It’s a constant juggle and I couldn’t do it without my husband. He understands what I do and supports me all of the way. He is also constantly juggling his own business with our families needs. My family and friends see me struggle with the juggle at times but they are also very proud of me and what I have achieved in my business. This means everything to me.
I guess my advice at the beginning, is to keep taking steps in the right direction. Even if they are tiny. Always stay true to yourself and surround yourself with like minded people that help keep you motivated and inspired. Connect with people and learn from them. Just put yourself out there. Being comfortable is the enemy of progression. Take time out to breathe and put life in perspective. Make sure you have the right mentor and never ever stop learning.
MW: I know you are all about helping women feel confident in their bodies whatever their size – Can you share more about your holistic approach to styling and any tips on how we can help strengthen that confidence muscle?
BP: Confidence is everything. My approach is around accepting the bodies we have and using clothing as a tool to bring out the best in us. It’s not the clothes we wear, but how we wear them. It is all about educating women in what suits them and why.
We work together to develop a real understanding of what your own individual style is based on body shape, values, budget and what visually appeals. It reduces the overwhelm and makes getting dressed everyday fun again. Knowledge is power. Confidence comes when you stop caring what others think and start focusing on what makes you feel like you. Style isn’t about fitting into a mould or following trends. It’s about celebrating who you are and being ok with the reflection in the mirror. Clothes really do have magical powers.
MW: Let’s talk about overwhelm and action – you’ve recently added a shop side to your business selling beautifully curated accessories… do you ever feel overwhelmed?? What happens – what impacts and how do you get out of it??
BP: Overwhelm is something I often experience as a mum and running a business. The overwhelm makes me feel like I forgot to breathe and sometimes it’s as simple as stopping and focusing on my breathing and sticking my feet in the grass.
I am a very visual and creative person, so I need to get all my thoughts down on paper where I feel like I have downloaded. I then work out what needs actioning, what can wait and what is just a creative thought that I will work on when time allows. Some things cannot wait but lots can.
(MW: Side note – get my free worksheet to decrease your overwhelm here)
MW: Do you feel mum guilt and how do you move through it if so?
BP: For whatever reason I am feeling less mum guilt now than I have ever. The peak of my guilt was when I travelled overseas for work or dropping my boys to daycare and having them physically removed off me. Now that I am working as a stylist, I don’t feel as guilty as I know I chose this path so I could be around. I drop and pick the kids up from school ( with the help of my husband and parents at times) and my kids can see that my job means a lot to me and they are proud of what I have achieved. I want to set an example to them that I can be a mum but also be Bernadette.
MW: What rules are made to be broken?
BP: Most of them really! I learnt all the rules so I feel pretty comfortable breaking them. We all have rules around how we dress. It might be what we will spend, what colours we think don’t suit us or that we can’t wear prints and stripes together.
I love learning what clients rules are and then seeing if I can make them think differently. When they start to break their own rules, they grow in confidence and start to think differently about their wardrobe. Make sure your clothes fit well, reflect who you are and most of all, have fun and try new styles. Don’t stick to the same look. Adjust and grow as your life requires.
MW: Finally, how do you do you…do you have any routines you would like to share that help you maintain your energy?
BP: Things that energise me and make me feel like me are browsing bookshops, walking with my feet in the sand and bushwalking with my family. I am also energised when I am around people that inspire me, love me and genuinely want to embrace their best life.
“A glass of wine, good food and laughter wins every time”.
My clients inspire and energise me as well. Watching them grow in confidence is the ultimate reward and why I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be. Styling is just an extension of me.
Connect with Bernadette:
Bernadette Payne is an accomplished, award-winning stylist who brings a unique perspective to her work with each and every client.
She believes that style is more than just clothing. Style comes from within. It’s not about what you wear, but how you wear it. Bernadette’s passion lies in helping women and men identify their own personal style and giving them the tools to choose pieces that make them feel empowered and confident.