Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Erika Cartledge. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Erika, appreciate you joining us today. The first dollar your business earns is always special and we’d love to hear how your brand made its first dollar of revenue.
Although fashion and style has always been a part of my life, my very first client “fell into my lap.” Prior to officially starting my business, Your Chic is Showing was a fashion and style blog. At the time that I launched the blog I had a friend who worked as a sports agent. A lot of his clients were up-and-coming athletes joining the NBA which, at the time, had a more strict dress code. One day he asked me if I could help one of his clients get some suits that met the dress code requirements. My response was “yessssss!!!!!”
Of course, looking back I should have thought more carefully about agreeing to help a man who was almost 7′ tall with his styling . . . because I had NEVER styled men and had ZERO experience with men’s custom clothes.
Oh, and I definitely should have charged more than $15/hour for this job.
But I was new and I was learning. And now, almost 10 years later, I am so thankful that I took on this client and started my business. From that client my styling process, the very same process I use today, was born. I got a crash course in men’s styling, custom clothing, building relationships with vendors, and providing a high-level of client service. I was equal parts terrified and elated working with that very first client. I learned what I love about styling (the moment of “transformation” and watching my clients “see” themselves for the first time) and what I dislike (professional athletes and their entourages are NOT my jam).
Without that experience, I would not be the stylist I am today.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m Erika, a personal stylist, image architect and the owner of Your Chic is Showing (YCS). I help women (and men) cultivate their confidence through fashion and style. I provide my clients with styling expertise via one-on-one personal styling, digital on-demand education, eBooks, and free resources (like IG and my blog). I LOVE to serve entrepreneurs + #mompreneurs, busy Mommas, high-level professionals and women (and men) who are leveling up in life and their careers.
I got my break in personal styling by starting with up-and-coming professional athletes and models, but now I focus on providing services to individual, group and corporate clients. I have nearly a decade of experience, styling and educating hundreds of people. My styling expertise offers specializations in plus sized and full-figured styling, maternity styling, career styling, and special event – wedding, engagement, etc. – styling.
I work hard every day to provide clients with a unique, elegant and chic experience while aligning with each of the YCS brand values:
1. Everybody and every body is important, valuable, and has a place in the YCS community.
2. Elevated style can be accessible to anyone, anywhere.
3. Diversity is respected and celebrated in our community.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
One lesson I had to unlearn was that being an entrepreneur means you have to constantly hustle and grind. Now, I work from a place of rest – and I earn more while doing it.
From the very beginning of my business I thought (and was told) that I had to be in constant hustle and grind mode. I remember, in the early days, proudly hashtagging my photos #teamnosleep. And I was seriously getting no sleep. I was up working all hours of the night because I thought I had to. I kept up that pace for a looooooonnnnnggggg time – doing a lot of busy work that didn’t actually move the needle forward on my business or serve my clients.
Having a baby followed by the pandemic forced me to slow down. I took the time evaluate what I needed to do, what I wanted to do, what I could give to someone else to do, and what could be done away with altogether. It totally changed the way I do business and manage my time. I never work Thursdays or Sundays. I take off, at least, one weekend a month and don’t work. I go on vacation. I take time away. I REST.
From a place of rest, I’m able to support my clients, create new, well thought-out, programs, build residual income, and be a better wife and mother. I’ll never overwork myself again!
How did you build your audience on social media?
I always say that I have a small, but mighty, following on social media. I don’t have the largest following or the biggest numbers. But I have an audience that respects my opinion and trusts my recommendations. Many of my clients started out first as part of my social media community and then signed on as clients.
As a personal stylist, it’s really important that people not only get an idea for my skill and talent but also to get to know me as a person. A relationship with a personal stylist is incredibly important and requires a high level of trust. I use my social media presence to build trust, as well as showcase my expertise. I also spend a lot of time talking to my niche (entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, high-performing professionals). Sure, people beyond my niche follow me and engage on social media but my focus is always on connecting with my ideal clients. This means talking about their pain points (needing time in their day, not spending hours picking out outfits, being able to walk confidently into any room) and how working with a stylist can help relieve their pain points by creating ease and efficiency in their wardrobe. I also carefully balance this with real-life moments that make me relatable as a person to my audience. Much of my day-to-day life (kids, clients, etc.) shows up in my InstaStories, where my audience can relate and respond real-time.
Planning out my social media content also helps me create a balance between information sharing, trust building, and selling.
For anyone who is starting out, I’d get crystal clear about your niche and learn what social platforms they use (IG, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc.) and which hashtags they are following. This will help you appear in their feed. Diversify your content between static posts, videos, reels, stories, etc. to give you a better chance of showing up. Be authentic and your true self. Your people will find you.