15 Minutes With Stylist and Entrepreneur Melissa Garcia
In my 15 minutes with stylist and entrepreneur Melissa Garcia, I learned about a mom of 3 who after 10 years in law knew she picked the wrong career. Can you relate? Are you in it for the paycheck? Feeling your soul being sucked? Melissa Garcia took a big risk and learned despite the challenges, at her core, she’s happy and THAT is wealth.
On the morning of my phone interview with Melissa Garcia she had just taped her first Today Show segment offering her expert commentary on style and fashion. It’s all starting to happen for Melissa and her story shows us that it is never too late to pursue the thing that lights us up.
15 Minutes With… Melissa Garcia
Lisa Concepcion: You were a lawyer for 10 years! What made you leave that career to purse fashion?
Melissa Garcia: I just didn’t like it. I knew I picked the wrong career. I knew it for a while and like many people, I stayed in it anyway because it’s what I went to college for. Then one day it hit me. I’m not forced to be a lawyer. I chose this profession and every day I continue to choose it. I can choose otherwise. It’s my life! I call the shots.
LC: So you decided fashion. Were you always interested in fashion? Did you have a clue about what you wanted to do in the fashion industry?
MG: I always had an interest in fashion even as a kid. For some odd reason I thought being a “professional” (doctor or lawyer) was the only way to go. I started out as pre med, didn’t like it and then went to study law. When you’re 18 you have no idea what you want to do. You don’t know to look closely at what you gravitate to normally and focus on getting great at that. So I went pre med then the law route, married my high school sweetheart, we had 3 kids, and I was still paying for my law school loans. I felt trapped in my profession but in my gut I knew there was something else I had to do and yes, I knew that thing would be in fashion.
LC: So you basically go from “lawyer money” to nothing! You walked away.
MG: I didn’t even have any knowledge of fashion. I never studied it formally. I just read and learned and knew what looked good. I have instincts and believe in them. I started off helping women go through their closets so they can get rid of things they don’t need, breathe new life into the things they already have and then help them enhance their personal style. It was rough. It’s still a challenge. My husband knows me since we were 15 years old so he went through this entire journey with me. He’s a CPA in finance so we’d be okay financially, but still, the loss of my “lawyer salary” certainly would have an impact on things.
LC: Of course and with 3 kids, the whole family has to agree on the adjustment.
MG: Yes, exactly so I sat down with my husband. We looked at the numbers and made a plan. It would require sacrifices but I believe in myself and my husband believes in me and just wants me to be happy. This support keeps me pushing forward.
LC: How did you even begin? How did you start to get clients and then celebrity clients followed by media requests? That’s a lot to accomplish and you did it fast. It’s great!
MG: Well, I’m not going to lie, it was intimidating to announce my career change. I didn’t have any credibility in fashion except my God given talents and faith. I launched my website in June/July 2013. I started out as a stylist helping everyday women clean out closet and organize, weed through and shop for them. I announced it on social media and was always very honest about the decision. I never faked it. I guess that humble approach was relatable. People started to refer other people.
I had to build this business and figure out pricing. I turned to Google and found a woman in Texas who did a course on how to start a styling business. It was a 5 week online course. I took it. I’m a very go with the flow person in life but in my career, I like structure. I like seeing the steps mapped out in front of me. Since launching my website and business, I’ve realized this business is very unpredictable. I have to get comfortable with that. It’s a challenge.
I just keep saying, “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.” I have to keep going! Just when I start to get tricked by negative thinking an email, text, call or social media message pops up with another opportunity.
LC: Don’t you love that? I like to believe it’s confirmation from the universe that you’re on track.
MG: YES! Which is the fuel to keep going. I had to network my tail off. I didn’t know celebrities. I went to where they were. I went to fashion shows and struck up conversations with anyone I sat next to. We’d chat and I’d tell them what I’d do, how I’d style someone. We’d create rapport and they would hire me. You MUST believe in yourself. You have to go find the work, go to events, go where potential clients will be. In my case it was right here in New York.
LC: Yeah New York is the headquarters of earth when it comes to business. I miss it terribly but not the cold and snow. Ok so, when did the business start to come together?
MG: Well you are in Miami. You can fly back and forth for media appearances.
LC: That is the dream. That’s what I’m working towards. It’s not if, it’s when.
MG: So true. I shifted my thinking too. I wanted to help women feel better about themselves. Once I started to focus on what I wanted to give I noticed a shift. A friend of my best friend from law school is in public relations. We were friends via social media and she was keeping an eye on me. She paid attention to what I was doing, the progress I was making with my business. She approached me and said I needed to be on TV.
Here’s the lesson. You never know who is watching you. Never rule anyone out. So she shoots a very amateur video of me on her iPhone, shows it to some producers at local TV here in New York City and books me on The Better Show. That relationship led to meeting other people in New York. Carolina Bermudez the radio personality of America’s number one radio station Z100, said “in business if you can’t find what you want to do, create it on your own.” That stuck with me. It’s so true.
LC: That leads into my next question. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned during this business journey?
MG: I learned do what you LOVE, and put forth full effort, I mean work your butt off and money will come. Above all I value happiness! I wanted my kids to have a mom who is happy about what she did every day. I went for it and want to show my kids to follow their God given talent and truly believe in it. I’m not done. I just did the Today show. More is coming! I know it. Every step matters. You have to handle a lot of no’s to get to the big YES! A lot of people can’t handle the no’s.
LC: That’s ego and fear. I’m at an age where rejection rolls off me like water on a duck. If it’s not a business match I move on. I don’t have time to obsess over what I can’t control. All I can control is my effort and the state of mind I’m in when I take action.
MG: Exactly. That in itself is a win!
LC: Well this was awesome Miss Melissa. You’re a powerhouse. So brave. Good for you. I’m going to connect with you on social media.
Lisa Concepcion is a 20 year marketing professional who did PR for top consumer brands while working for global PR firms in New York. She currently lives in Miami Beach and consults with businesses and helps them enhance their marketing strategies. She promotes businesses and the people who run them and wants to become known as The Barbara Walters of Business & Entrepreneurship.
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