Stepping Stones to Style
When my babies were growing up and beginning to leave the nest, as a full- time Mum for 20 odd years I needed to start thinking about how I was going to spend the rest of my life once that nest was empty.
During the time that I was at home with the children, many of my friends went back to work in some capacity. I guess I was fortunate that my husband at that time worked hard and provided well for me and my family, so the pressure to go back to work was balanced with a desire to create a balanced family lifestyle. I was fortunate to be able to help out on most school trips and camps, and as a trained teacher in my early twenties, I loved being available as ‘mother help’ in many classroom activities when I could. As the kids grew, I took up a position on the Board of Trustees and later as a College Council member, where I could speak on behalf of children and many parents who weren’t able to offer their spare time like I could. I considered it a privilege to be able to serve in this way.
I also maintained everything on the home front while my husband was at work. In the boys’ teenage years there was hardly a week that went by where we weren’t hosting billets or extra boarders from school who lived too far away to go home every weekend. Our home was referred to as the ‘safe house’ where many kids seemed to crash after a big night on the town in the weekends especially. What an honour to be able to share in the lives of so many kids, and to be a positive influence in a society where many family values were indeed undervalued. Yes, there were times when I used to begrudge the boys cooking up all the bacon and eggs on a Sunday morning, and feeling like my home looked like a bomb site after they all returned to school on Monday morning, but when I look back, those were happy days, and I know my kids really appreciated being able to share our home with their friends, as did their friends and their friends’ parents.
The weeks were full, but as the boys became more independent, I was not needed quite so much, and I began to wonder what else I could do with my time. I spent a few hours a week working in a local café, and learned valuable people skills. I also picked up some culinary arts and food knowledge which has proved useful since then. For the first time ever, I learned to appreciate a really good coffee and that discernment still lives on after some serious training in drinking coffee during well-deserved breaks.
One day I was out in the garden and I asked the Lord what He wanted me to do with my next phase in life. I had often heard of people hearing God speak clearly to them, and up until this time I don’t think I had ever heard Him speak that clearly to me. But that particular day I heard the word ‘colour’ as clear as a bell. As I pondered on the word colour, I started to unpack what colour meant to me.
I remember going inside and googling ‘Colour Me Beautiful’ as that was probably the main association I had with the word colour. As I googled, an opportunity popped up to train as a ‘Colour Consultant’. Something significant shifted that day. I started to poke a few links with a stick, and not long afterwards I enrolled to do a week long course training how to be a Colour Consultant. This would be my first break to the ‘big smoke’; as a provincial girl, the opportunity to spend a whole week by myself in a city where I didn’t know my way around , was quite a big deal at the time. When I look back, it really was a huge stepping stone to life as I now know it.
This was way before ‘google maps’ became my friend; I managed to find my way around, and each time I got lost, I was redirected, and my geography knowledge expanded. I can now quite proudly say 10 years down the track that I know my way quite well around Auckland city, and I can drive with confidence to some locations which were very foreign to me once upon a time!
The colour training was intensive, but I realised that week that I was a natural. I picked up many new skills and I would go back to my motel at night and crash. There was so much new information, and yet I was like a piece of blotting paper, absorbing all these new treasures, which would equip me to equip others down the track. I subsequently returned to Auckland a month later to complete a Styling course, which complimented the Colour training, and that combined training has been imperative for where I am now headed in life.
I realised that my love for colour encompassed many areas, as I have always loved colourful ingredients in cooking, and a colourful garden. I have made many bright colourful quilts and bags, and I love wearing bright and bold colour. As I have aged my hair has become silvery grey, and I look back and realise that attempts to colour and highlight my hair were somewhat misguided. I get way more compliments on my very natural ‘silver fox’ look now, than I did when I was spending a fortune using toxins from a dye bottle.
Training as a Colour Consultant and a Personal Stylist gave me confidence to know who I am, what made me feel good, and what makes me look good all day, every day. Friends started to notice that my look was changing and I started to walk with a new confidence. Helping others to achieve their best look has given me a huge amount of satisfaction since then, and I love nothing more than being able to complement someone when they look like they have got it right in choosing the best colour and style for them.
I set up a studio in one of the now spare rooms in our house, and stepped in to business. I have to say, it didn’t take off like I thought it would, but it has been a wonderful stepping stone into the world of colour and styling, counselling, equipping and encouraging others not so confident as the newly found me.
My love for colour has now extended into interior design and I know now what I am comfortable with and what I like. I also know what I don’t like, and I am very aware that just because something is ‘on trend’ and fashionable does not necessarily mean that I have to like it, or wear it! My styling style is very much about what I think suits my client and what works for their personality.
I have found that I can work from anywhere. I have moved house a couple of times since those early days and have learned to be flexible as a ‘mobile’ consultant. To see women’s faces light up as they realise where they have gone wrong in their dressing is very satisfying as a consultant, and to see success in how they progress from that initial consultation is very rewarding. Our countenance changes when we look and feel good about ourselves. There is nothing more satisfying than being used to bring out the best in others. I love it, and I love my job as a Personal Stylist