Black Belt, Black Dog, Red Shoes
Last Friday I stepped in at short notice to speak at a women’s event. I told a 15-minute version of my story which provides an insight to why I do what I do. I also described my journey to how I came about to be a colour and image specialist mentoring women to be the best version of themselves as I am today.
Also, for the first time ever, I put myself forward for an award recently. It felt like the right time, and I shared my story as part of the entry criteria. Unfortunately, I found out on Monday that I hadn’t got through as a finalist. I was a bit disappointed, but at the same time very pleased for all the other amazing women who had got through, it’s just not my time yet.
So, this week, in case you haven’t heard my story before, I’m sharing a version of it with you. If it resonates let me know.
I gained 5 stone during pregnancy and just can’t seem to shift it. I’m firmly in the plus size category. I hate my body and never feel nice in my clothes. Despite dressing nice, doing my hair and make-up every day, I am miserable on the inside and I don’t really feel like me anymore.
I wear a lot of slimming black. The little voices in my head never have anything good to say. Why are you even bothering? You don’t look nice any more… I am in a very negative relationship with myself. I don’t feel like I’m worth it.
Then two things happened that turn my world upside down…I have a horrible, traumatic experience at work, which leads to me having a total mental breakdown and not long after this my husband, after 23 years, tells me he doesn’t want to be with me anymore. He left.
Just before these two things happen, I met an earth angel. We really connected and very quickly became good friends. She is my confidant and emotional crutch during this really dark time of my life.
I am off work - an emotional wreck, struggling to see things in perspective. I am spending a lot of time on her settee with tears, tissues and cups of tea as she uses her years of coaching skills to guide me through making sense of everything.
One afternoon, on her settee, she says to me “What would you do if you could do absolutely anything? What would make your heart sing?” and right there and then the concept of my business was born.
Despite the dire circumstances this is my lucky escape and a way to reclaim my identity. The work stuff and husband stuff leave me pretty much at rock bottom but with the help of my little pal Prozac and the amazing support from her and other friends I take back control.
To improve my self-worth and boost my confidence I know that I HAVE to invest in myself and believe that I am worth it. No more making do.
I could change the way that I felt about myself by changing my clothes. And then I felt better and then because people were telling me I looked good, that boosted my confidence.
I figured that, if I felt like that, it stands to reason there are other women who feel like that too. They might not have the same skills and expertise that I have and need a helping hand.
So, when I got an unexpected windfall, I invested that money and I trained properly in colour analysis and learned about styling different personalities and body shapes. It fitted perfectly with my experience of textiles and fashion design and my makeup background. I pulled it all together into a business, which is about empowering women and using colour and clothes to boost confidence. My Ruby Slippers is created.
When you stand in front of your wardrobe frustrated because you have nothing to wear, often it’s not just about the clothes. So many women feel like they're in a rut, especially when they get to 50+; it might be their body shape has changed or they experience a major life event like losing a parent, redundancy, workplace trauma or divorce.
All stuff that can really knock your confidence, but by harnessing the power of colour and clothes you can alter so much about who you are, how you feel and how you show up in the world. You can absolutely be who you want to be and express yourself whatever your age, shape or size.
So, my passion now is to help other women reclaim their identity, boost their self-worth and confidence; no more making do and helping them believe that they’re worth it.
I might not be a finalist in the awards but I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved. I’ve helped many women feel better, whether it’s just a quick makeover or a full-on life changing experience (yes, that’s been said more than once) or any stage in-between. It feels good. My business is still evolving which I’m sure will continue.
Everything happens for a reason; it just might not be clear at the time.
It's my absolute mission to help ordinary women feel so much better than ordinary and to bring the secrets of personal styling to the masses so we can all be that flamingo amongst the flock of pigeons.
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