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Stylist and blogger NeShanta Smith-Davis on thrifting and how to be iconic

neshanta

NeShanta Smith-Davis
Boutique owner, fashion stylist, image consultant and personal shopper
Style Is She (styleisshe.com)

How did you arrive at this career choice? Was it a deliberate decision or a gradual and natural evolution?
After spending 10 years in the United States Air Force, I decided to pursue my lifelong dreams of working in the fashion industry. Upon my initial separation from the military, I felt compelled to work in corporate America – out of fear. Through the encouragement of my husband and other family members, I stepped out on faith and opened my boutique. I later developed my alter-ego, Style Is She, and branched into wardrobe styling, personal shopping and blogging.

What separates you from others in your field? What is unique to the experience that you create?
I believe the thing that sets me apart from my colleagues is directly related to my time in the Air Force. Being that I’ve been to several places and countries and interacted with people from different walks of life, it has allowed me to be more open to see fashion from a more diverse perspective. I also credit my uniqueness to my keen ability to shop on a budget. Although thrifting is now becoming more popular, I’ve been thrifting since I was in the seventh grade and I now consider myself a master thrifter. This talent allows me to work with clients from all walks of life as I am able to work with most budgets.

For those considering entering this arena, what skill sets do you recommend mastering? What traits are most conducive to success?
To be successful in this field, one must study the history of fashion. It is imperative that you are familiar with all aspects of fashion such as: designers, body types, fabrics etc. Being ahead of the trends is a must. You must always be consistent, patient, humble and innovative. No one wants to hire you to do for them what they can do for themselves.

How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
I will never consider myself at the leading edge of my craft. My goal is to keep evolving and keep fine tuning my craft. The moment you feel that you are at the leading edge and you become complacent is the moment you stop growing and challenging yourself. I never want to be comfortable, I am always striving for more. I am in a constant competition with myself.

Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about what you do? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
The biggest misconception about being a boutique owner is that it is easy, quick money. In reality, it is quite the opposite. Your livelihood depends on people spending money with you. As for being a wardrobe stylist, again, people think it’s easy. I’ve found that many people who think they dress themselves cute are able to translate that into dressing others. The most annoying thing is people apparently think wardrobe stylist work for free. I don’t really stress myself on trying to dispel the misconceptions. I just stay true to who I am.

How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
I have a journal that I keep with me at all times. Sometimes I wake up out of my sleep with a thought and write it down. My goals are always changing. I am always trying to evolve myself. I have many things that I am working on being successful at: motherhood, being a wife, being an entrepreneur, and being an A student among other things. My success is measured by how well I balance all of the things I do without going insane. [Laughs]

Who do you consider to be your peers in your field? Who do you see/use as examples for you to emulate?
There are a few of my peers that I believe are wonderful examples to follow. In the blogger world, my peers consist of The Fashionista Next Door, The Daleigh and Style Pantry. In the styling world, I look up to both Olori Swank and J. Bolin who work as full time wardrobe stylist and boutique owners.

Name two of your top role models: one from your industry and one from outside of it.
Kimora Lee Simmons is a beast and I admire how she runs her empire and holds it all together while being an amazing mother. My husband is my other role model. He is hard working and successful business man that built his company from the ground up with next to nothing.

Why do you consider continued learning important?
You can never stop learning. The industry is ever changing and you must be current or you will get left behind.

What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
God gave you a talent… use it! Never let good enough be enough.

What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
Technology plays a major role in my day to day business in everything from sending invoices, updating blog post, replying to emails and staying current on social media. I can’t live without my iPad, laptop and cell phone.

What software, app or other technological innovation has made the biggest difference in your life and/or career?
I would say social media, blogger, Microsoft PowerPoint and YouTube.

Please define your personal brand.
The best description I can give about my brand is my tag line: “Fashion is Life… Life is Style…. Style Is She!” I am a brand that is all about looking and selling high fashion without the luxury price tag. I am all about thrifting a $2 shirt, pairing it with a high-end item and making my clothes speak to you before I do. I inspire to teach other women to do the same. It is my belief that fashion is what you wear and style is how you wear it.

What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
I don’t have a specific place to vacay. Each year we try a new destination. I will say that I love Vegas because there is always something going on.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would love for there to be a better system and appreciation for our veterans. So many of us put our life on the line to fight for this country only to return to American soil to be tossed away and forgotten about. As a disabled vet myself, I have experienced firsthand how much of a lack of respect for vets there is. I have even been told that I shouldn’t get any special treatment because it was my choice to serve my country. While this is true, it wasn’t our choice to be shipped off to a foreign country for months at a time only to return and never be the person that left again. The V.A. Hospital and other facilities that are designed to be our safe haven are some of the main places where veterans are treated the worse. You are no more than a number and your problem is no more than an annoyance. This behavior has to stop; we deserve better.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would love to have better patience. My impatience adds undo stress on my life. I have to stop over analyzing situations and taking them for face value or waiting on the answer to reveal itself instead of being impatient and stressing myself out.

What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?
I think Coco Chanel is iconic and she said it best when she said “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” You must be consistent, willing to take risk and be innovative in order to be iconic.



4 Comments

  1. Keren Charles on July 8, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Great article! Very inspiring….

  2. Charity on July 8, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Great article. You are an inspiration and a great success story to striving women everywhere.

  3. JaChel on July 8, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Nice article. Congrats!

  4. Lakesha Powell on July 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    NeShanta, this article is amazing! Your view of fashion is inspiring.. Congrats to you! Bravo…