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Susan Conterno - Fashion Stylist and Wardrobe Consultant

Susan Conterno
'I found myself jotting down notes for people on where to shop, what to wear with what, and people wanted to pay me for my time!'

Susan is a Melbourne-based fashion stylist and wardrobe consultant. She helps style video clips and fashion shoots, writes articles in magazines, assists individual clients style their wardrobe and maintains her website.





What do you do in your job?

I have a lot of different elements to my work. I style video clips, write articles for local newspapers and free magazines, give fashion talks and workshops, answer readers’ questions about style and fashion for the weekly national gossip magazine Famous and operate my website. I also work on special occasion outfits where I style people for special events such as the Logies, Mediterranean cruises, weddings, job interviews and conferences. My time is also spent with clients in their homes, shopping and researching, writing recommendations, creating new ‘looks’, answering new enquiries and preparing for talks and workshops.

What process do you go through when you are advising clients?

When I work with private clients on their personal style I firstly assess their wardrobes by going through their clothing and accessories. I then supply them with written recommendations on what items I think they need to discard or replace. Often these items are dated and tired, or do not suit their body shape, so I suggest purchases to fill gaps in their wardrobe or help them reach their style aims. Many people don’t know how to wear clothes they have bought, so I suggest ways they can wear certain items and make recommendations about what cuts and styles suit their individual body shape.

How did you start working from home?

I was originally working in theatre, doing everything from designing costumes and sets to directing, writing and acting. I then moved from dressing actors and dancers for the stage to dressing people for special occasions and everyday life. I found myself jotting down notes for people on where to shop, what to wear with what, and people wanted to pay me for my time! At the beginning it was unofficial work with family and friends, but then it grew to include friends of friends and their family, and I gained new clients through word of mouth. I loved what I was doing and decided to set it up as a business, so I made decisions about what services I would offer and what fees I would charge. I then had some business cards made and created my first basic website with the help of a web programmer and designer. All of a sudden I was working from home.

How do you promote your business?

My website works as my primary source of promotion, but my fashion advice column in Famous generates additional business. My business is occasionally featured in local papers and magazines when I am approached for comments regarding new season fashion and accessories – I usually get at least two articles per year which correspond with the two major fashion seasons. Sometimes I donate gift vouchers of my styling services to charity balls and functions as part of auctions or raffle prices.

What is one of the best things you’ve done since you started working from home?

I travelled to Milan in July 2006 for a three-week fashion course, and it was an amazing experience. I had an attachment with Luca Boccelli and Marianne Leslie at the Istituto Marangoni, Milano. During this time I got to preview autumn/winter 2007 collections of many of the large fashion houses. Personal shopping and individual styling are very popular in Milan. In Milan they talk about how the needs of a client have to be ‘covered’ in every sense – a stylist should be able to offer their clients contacts for hair stylists, tailors, beauticians, dry cleaners, cafes, restaurants, art dealers, interior designers, dog walkers and the list continues! It was wonderful to see how it is done on the other side of the world! I had the most wonderful time.

How do you stay motivated?

Procrastination is a problem and at times I find myself doing the dishes or the washing instead of working. To overcome this I use a weekly schedule to outline things that need to be done and a daily set of tasks help me meet these aims. I find great motivation comes from crossing off tasks when they have been completed. Enthusiasm also comes from success when I receive a phone call, card or email gushing thanks and praise from a client or being referred for a certain job. Seeing the results of your hard work also helps you to move forward because you have the satisfaction of knowing that your work is paying off.

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