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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.” With me is my co-host and friend Susan White, a national HR consultant.
In today’s episode, we are going to talk about personal style and how personal style can help us build confidence. We’ve got a real expert with us today, my friend, Nicole Busch Blair. Nicole Busch is the owner of Nicole Blair Wear. She’s a personal brand and style expert. Nicole has worked with an Olympic gold medalist, professional athletes, CEOs, and was hand-selected to study and work under Stacy London of TLC’s What Not to Wear. I’m totally jealous of that.
I’m totally insecure about what I’m wearing today. So.
Don’t be! Don’t be!
Curating valuable experience and education from the best of the best in New York’s fashion scene. NBW is fast becoming the definitive personal branding expert in America. I will personally give my kudos, as I worked with Nicole just a couple of weeks ago in preparation for this podcast. Well, not just in preparation for this podcast, but because I wanted some help with my own style. And so I can personally acknowledge that she is completely fabulous to work for – work with, and we had a super good time doing it. So. Nicole, why is personal style so important?
I think for me, it’s a way of expressing yourself, but I think more importantly, you’re a walking resume. You have one shot to make a first impression, and nine times out of ten, you’re not walking around with your resume or your personality on your sleeve, so you could do that in clothing.
Right. I love it.
I love it.
So when did you realize you wanted to become a personal stylist?
Well, I actually started in the fitness industry, and I had a boot camp called Nikki’s Army. And a lot of my contestants, my boot campers, were losing weight. And there was one in particular who’d lost 70 pounds, and I couldn’t understand for the life of me why she kept showing up in her husband’s oversized t-shirt, because I would have been in a bathing suit. I just lost a small child and I’m going to show it off.
I’d be strutting it, too.
Yes. So I decided to do an end of the year party, but instead of a party, I did a runway show, and I used all of my boot campers to walk in it and I…I get choked up to this day talking about it, because I felt so alive. And I was like, this is my purpose.
Yeah. It was transformational for those people, I’m sure.
It was. And to this day, I still have communication with most of them that still say, like, “This was a game changer for me. You changed my life.” And that’s something that… you can’t put a price on that.
And how long ago has that been?
Oh my goodness. So, I’ve been in business for 10 years, but I, we did that boot camp, it has to be close to 15 to 17 years ago. Yeah. Yeah. Amazing.
And can you share a story – you just shared one story, but maybe another story of someone you worked with, and what a difference it made in their confidence or presentation style?
The one person that comes to mind here in Indianapolis is a news anchor that I worked with. And she had had a child, you know, she had a toddler at that point, she was two years old, her daughter, and she just felt like she was in a rut. And so we kind of rebranded her and, for me, it was invigorating, because I was like, I’m gonna throw away all these, like, news anchor dresses that are no longer a carbon copy. But she was an Emmy Award winning news anchor, and she needed to dress like it. So we did a head to toe makeover, hair, makeup, new wardrobe, and really just enhanced her. We didn’t even update her. We just enhanced her. And it’s amazing, because her career has skyrocketed. She’s, she’s now – well, she was pregnant and has her second child. So it was like everything that she wanted in life kind of came to fruition. And I don’t want to say I did that, but I helped her with the confidence so that she can move forward with her life and kind of hit those little checkboxes on her list.
I can attest that when I worked with Nicole a few weeks ago, she pulled some things out of my closet, I didn’t buy anything new, and put them together, and last night I was doing a speaking engagement in one of the outfits that she pulled together for me that I would not have had the confidence to wear on my own, even though I bought it. Right? I felt like it was a little too much, maybe, or I had bought it for an evening event and thought it was a little bit too much for the work style. But I went last night with so much confidence in what I had on that it really, I know that I attribute the success of the engagement to feeling more confident in what I was wearing.
I love hearing – that is like music to my ears. Because, you know, I think everyone… most clients, what they tend to do is they buy, I call it “occasional dressing,” so we buy something and we’re gonna stick it in this occasion and only pull it out for that. And for me, you’re more than that. Right? Like, you have a big presence. You’re delivering something… I’ve heard you speak before. It’s amazing. You need something that’s going to match that, and that outfit did that and it brought to the table. And I think it also tells the people in the audience, like, she’s got game. Like, she just upped her game and now I’m gonna pay attention a little bit more.
JoDee does have game.
Yes she does!
Well, by the way, it was a very expensive dress that had been sitting in my closet for two years, so it also is getting more use out of my dollars. Right?
Okay, so I want to touch on that real quick, because I call that cost per wear.
So I’m going to tell you a little story about a client of mine who used to buy, she was part of this, like, shoe membership. And she would get these shoes that were about $40 to $50 a month, and she would get one to two pair, and you walked in her closet, which was beautiful, by the way, but she had shoes galore and none of them were really her. And so I told her, I said, “It’s really time, Erin, that we up your game, and so we’re going to get rid of these, and you’re going to invest in a great pair of Valentinos.” Now, mind you, those were about $900 and – right, so your initial thing is like I’m gonna grab my chest and have a seat and, like, be still my heart.
I get it. But what was interesting is that we figured out her cost per wear, and it came down to $3 a wear. She has worn these over and over, because they’re a staple.
And it’s a high quality shoe she can wear all year long. So your cost per wear for that dress, you know, the one time when you’d wear it, okay, I’m gonna wear it on maybe an evening or a special event. Where now your special events are your speaking events. Those are special.
Whip those out! That dress is going to be like $3 by the end of it.
That’s great. So Nicole, what are some misconceptions or myths associated with hiring a stylist?
So I’m going to actually touch on something you said when I first came in, which was…
…you’re a little self conscious that, like, of what you’re wearing now, because I’m here. And I think that that’s how most people feel, that I’m going to judge you. And that’s not my job. My job is to enhance everything within a client. So I think that’s a misconception, that people are going to be judged. I think another misconception is that I’m going to throw away all of your clothes and we’re only going to buy designer. I get it, my $900 shoe is not a good example of that, but, you know, it’s – I think there’s this misconception that it’s only for celebrities, when it’s like, no, you get dressed every single day. You don’t think anything of hiring, you know, going to the dentist, you brush your teeth every day, go in to get your hair done. And yet women are not investing in themselves, in their clothes, and so I’m really passionate about just educating women on that and saying, it’s okay to invest in yourself and you deserve it.
And having said that, you do work with men also.
I do. I do. My, my heart goes to the women, though. No, I do work with men as well.
Yeah, but I do think, for our male listeners, it’s important to think that this means you, too. I haven’t brought up the nerve yet to tell my husband that I’m going to hire you to help him, as well. So.
What a nice Christmas gift, right?
Oh, actually his birthday’s in a couple weeks. That could be my moment.
Oh, yeah. Well, and also, who doesn’t need confidence? I don’t think there’s a single person out there. You know, people talk about models. I’m like, I’ve worked with models, they are as insecure as the rest of us. I bet everyone sitting here comes to the table with something, so, like, why not hire someone that’s going to help you bring out, I always say highlight the best and camouflage the rest.
Ah, that’s a great motto.
So Nicole, I’ve been doing more speaking lately on the concept of personal branding, and how do you feel that a personal style adds to a personal branding and why is that even important?
Oh, I love this question. I think those two go hand in hand, and I think a lot of times people try to separate them and say this is different, but the reality of it is, is that if someone is out, let’s just say you see a vice president, and all of a sudden you see them at a bar one night and they’re drinking. It’s associated with the business, whether or not they’re on the clock or not. And so a lot of times I think people try to separate the two, but your personal brand is who you are. It is a part of your business. When I wear leopard, people think of me. I literally have clients that will be out shopping and send me a snapshot and say, “thinking of you!”
So my branding is there. Now, I don’t dress everyone in leopard, but it’s associated with me. And for me, personal brand is a way that someone thinks of you when you’re not around.
That initial thing that comes into your brain. That’s branding.
Right. I love it. By the way, it’s, it’s disappointing that our listeners can’t see your awesome leopard skin boots you have on right now.
They’re gorgeous. Yeah.
My cost per wear is, like, 25 cents.
That’s great. Well, Nicole, JoDee had mentioned to me that you had said to her that knowing your style could actually simplify decisions in getting ready for or maybe packing for a trip. What do you mean by this?
Oh, great one. So I believe every single woman should be able – and men, or man, I should say – should be able to look at yourself and identify yourself within three words. So when you understand your style, it makes it easy. It’s kind of like a checklist. So for instance, the news anchor, we came up with a tagline for her. So it was “New York meets LA with the warmth of the Midwest.”
Right? So she knew that if we’re out shopping, if you go too New York, you’re not going to be able to connect with the Midwest listeners. And if you’re too LA, again, you’re losing that. And if you’re too Midwest, then people aren’t going to say “Oh, she’s an Emmy Award winning news anchor.” So I think understanding your style helps you. It also narrows down. So when you’re shopping, think of going to the grocery store, there are times when you go and you just walk up and down the aisles, or you go with a list and you’re, like, way more efficient that way.
So I save time and money for clients.
The one thing I know you’ve helped me save time and money for, which, when I first heard you say this, I was a little taken aback, because it wasn’t my style, but it was the concept of having a uniform. And I – actually, Susan, I know you do a lot of national travel and speaking, and I have gotten to where now I have my uniform for speaking that I take to the same… I’m traveling all over the place, so no one knows I’m wearing it over and over, but my cost per wear is way down and my packing and decision time on what I’m going to take has dropped dramatically.
And your sanity.
There’s also, I think what happens is we don’t really put a time on our sanity, or a cost, but we should.
I spend so many times that I am with a client and I see them… the stress and the aggravation. On average, women take 17 to 30 minutes a day trying to figure out what to wear.
Oh, my goodness.
Think about that. 30 minutes. If you’re on the high end, 30 minutes. At the end of your week, you’re like, that’s another client meeting.
That’s a night out with your girlfriends. You could be at a spa.
I would think it’s another chapter in my book I could get read.
Right, I love it.
Exactly, right? So, so I view it more as, yes, it’s clothing, yes, it’s a representation, but it affects every aspect of your life. And I think if people can start thinking that way, I think you’d be amazed.
I love it. Nicole, I know you do one-on-one styling, but you also do speaking and group training, which you’ll be doing for Purple Ink coming up soon. But tell us how you might work with a group?
I love working with a group. I feed off of people’s energy. So just like I do in a closet, this is amplified, and so… I think there’s also a community that comes about it, right? So, and also accountability when you’re in a group. So if someone says, “Hey, I’m struggling with this,” it opens the door for so many other people to say, “I am too.” And so there’s this community feel of, I’m not different, I’m okay. But then also how can we enhance that? And it’s – you see when you start showing up and dressing up, I always say “Get up, dress up, and show up.” And when you have a group that does that, you start to see that ripple effect in the business. And again, it comes back to, you know, what is your… what is the worth, what is that worth to you and your business?
Right, right. What are some common questions that you get from your clients?
“Are you gonna throw away all of my clothes?” There’s that. There’s the, “You must be really organized.” I also get…
Not always, no! I go through outfits, right? There are, there are days I have my uniforms, and then there are moments where I’m gonna be really creative. And those – sometimes I fail at that and my bedroom looks like everyone else’s, the bomb that has gone off. I mean, I’m human. But for the most part I try to be, I try to organize. But I think the number, the number one question that I get is, “Is this okay?”
“Is this okay?”
I think we all want to be validated in what we put on. We just want someone to say, yes, you look good.
Right, right. I know when we were together, I asked you that several times. And one of the things, I didn’t even know I was struggling with it until I worked with you, about I have this fear of, is this okay to wear in the fall, or is this a spring, or can – is this only for summer or can I wear it in the winter? And I think you – I don’t even think, I know that you expanded my wardrobe for me without actually even purchasing anything new, because I’m wearing some things right now that I thought were summer only, so.
Well, and I think part of that, too, is being open. You know, I always say you will get as much out of me as you, as you allow. So if you’re open to – you were really open to the process, and so you weren’t closed minded. And my job is not to go and spend all of your money. My job is to use what you have, and create magic there. That’s my pulse point, right? That’s where I live. I want the challenge. When someone says, “I don’t have a lot in my wardrobe,” I’m like, “Move aside. Hang on.”
That’s great. You know, early in my career, it was really popular to do this colors, you know, where they figure out are you fall, winter, spring, and we’d have group parties and… all the time. Is that still a thing? I mean, do you still believe that people are – have different shades or colors that work best for them? And do you play off that?
I love this question. The answer is yes.
I don’t necessarily believe in seasons. I believe they exist. I think, like anything, there’s 10 different ways… GPS, for example, right? You could get to the same destination three different ways. So I believe that applies in the color theory world. For me, I love color. I think it enhances someone, I think you should know what your power color is, if you’re going to a speaking engagement, whether you’re asking for a promotion, or if you have a difficult client, knowing what is my approachable color, how do I calm the situation? But I think more importantly, you have to lead in, lean into, I should say, and lead with your personality. So for instance, I had a client yesterday who had a color analysis with another professional several years ago, and the first thing I said to her was, “I’m really surprised by these colors.” And she said, “Well, they’re my colors, right?” And I told her, I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Yes, they are. Let me backtrack.” I said, “You’re such an introvert, and these colors are so loud and bright that, while they enhance you, they don’t play off of your personality. And so you’re probably gaining attention in a way that you don’t really want attention.” And it was a pause for a moment where she just sat there and I think she was playing in her mind, and you could just see like, “oh, okay.” So yes, I do think that – I think color theory is very important. I’m not a big party person when it comes to that, because I feel like you shouldn’t be in a box. Nobody should be in a box.
If I’m looking at seasons, I’m Fall – I could be Summer, Fall, and Winter. So if you, if you put me in one box, then you’re only getting a little bit of me, when there’s, like, greatness to go around.
There you go.
Exactly. That story reminds me of when I was in college and getting ready to go through the interview process on campus, and I only had… I barely had enough money to buy one suit for the interview process, and the suit I bought, I wore to every interview I did, on campus and off, and I bought a green suit with a burgundy blouse that I thought rocked it. Now, I knew at that time that the tradition was to wear black or navy, but I was not a black or navy girl, and I was bound and determined that I was going to wear something with a little bit more color. So I bought it, and then I read an article, although, again, I knew black and blue was the tradition. I read an article after I bought the suit that said you should never wear green to an interview and I was devastated. And it really… I lost a lot of confidence in that and I didn’t have another suit to wear. So I – that’s what I wore to every one. But by the way, I did still get job offers.
Okay. So I have to tell you that, first of all, you had a uniform back then, you didn’t even know it.
I had a uniform because I was forced to have a uniform.
But I love that you knew enough about yourself at a young age to not be like everyone else. And I would put you in a green one because of your eyes.
So for the listeners out there, I would say yes, that is traditional. If you’re going to, if you’re going for a job interview in a bank, in the financial world, a lawyer, yes, all of those, stay traditional, but don’t lose yourself and, and who you are in this process. I think we’ve become so check the box and stay in the realm that people are leaning into being authentic and that you keep hearing that word over and over, and yet, they’re not being authentic.
Right, right. I love it.
So true. So Nicole, how can our listeners reach out to you?
Oh, well, you can reach me if you follow me on Instagram. I think you’ll get an inside peek as to what I do every day. I think that’s kind of like my highlight reel. So you can follow me at Nicole Blair Wear on Instagram, Facebook, as well as Twitter, and then my website is nicoleblairwear.com.
And that is N-I-C-O-L-E-B-L-A-I-R-W-E-A-R dot com.
All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I think you’ve been a lot of fun and had lots of great advice for us and our listeners.
Thank you. You guys stay stylish!
All right, thank you so much.
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So JoDee, our listener question for today, the question is from Mary in Arizona. “I listened to the JoyPowered® podcast about how to search for a job and appreciated all the tips. You mentioned how valuable LinkedIn can be for networking. Do you think I should spend the money to get premium LinkedIn? Or can just the regular free LinkedIn be effective?”
I have to admit, for Mary, and for you, Susan, I haven’t looked into premium LinkedIn for a long time. But for the most part, I don’t recommend it to people. I think connecting with people that you know is the best value that you can have. And if you have a very well defined LinkedIn profile, recruiters will be able to find you with or without the premium LinkedIn version. So I don’t recommend paying the additional cost. What about you, Susan?
Well, true confessions, whenever they offer me premium for free, which I don’t do it for a long time, they do come back and offer it to you. I go ahead and do it for the up to 30 days, and I set an alarm for 29 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, so I get every moment out of it, and then I cancel it. And during those 30 days, I do like the fact if I’m trying to find somebody that I have the opportunity, I have a whole universe of LinkedIn profiles to find them. I do think it’s nice for job candidates to be able to see the number of other people who’ve applied to the job. You get screens and things you’re not able to see on just the regular, but I am very frugal. And I have to say, JoDee, I agree. I think that if you use it effectively, I think it still can be extremely effective free. And I’m just too cheap to pay the money. So job seekers, I probably wouldn’t do it.
I love the advice of using the free version.
That’s a good resource. So.
In our in the news segment, in a recent article by Jathan Janove for SHRM magazine, he asked that we ban the word “documentation.” Kind of scary for HR people, I think. But he says, don’t we all sort of cringe when we hear it? He suggests the word documentation is cold and lifeless.
It does raise, kind of, the hair in the back of your neck. Oh no, they’ve got documentation on me.
Right, right. Instead of encouraging growth, trust, and engagement in employees who need to adjust their behavior or performance, it causes stagnation, fear, and withdrawal. In his prior career as a labor and employment attorney, it amazed Jathan how poorly managers documented important matters. Does this mean never put anything in writing? No. It means shifting your paradigm from documenting to cover yourself to using written expression to promote clarity and understanding. And I love his approach to this. He calls the writing an SDS, same day summary. It’s a written confirmation composed and sent shortly after a meeting or discussion with these simple rules. It’s short and to the point. It lists the takeaways, which include who will do what by when, critical facts or understanding where memories or interpretations could be problematic. A recognition of positive or constructive behavior. It’s written as soon as possible after the real time conversation, typically within a day, and the recipient is invited to add anything he or she thinks was omitted to correct any perceived misstatements.
What a great idea.
I love this concept of shifting our paradigm and promoting clarity. It makes it sound so much easier.
I also love the idea that you’re gonna write it same day, because, truly, our memories start to fade. So get it on paper, let other people add their input, and you’ve got hopefully a nice record for the future should you need it.
Right. And I think it just sounds so much easier, instead of asking a manager or anyone to say document that, but to say write a brief summary with these key points.
Yes, love it.
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