When it comes to a great example of mom on the go style and mommy and me flair, Patty Chism of Style By Patty is your girl. But, that’s not all she is known for. Patty is not only a local fashionista, stylist and blogger, but she is mom to three year old daughter Pippa. When this busy mama isn’t dressing her Washingtonian clientele or juggling and entertaining her beautiful little girl, she’s working behind the scenes on some major editorial shoots. I recently had the pleasure of working with her on a collaboration with Market Common Clarendon, stay tuned for that post. I was happy to interview her and find out how she does it all.
How would you describe your company and what you do?
My company is a wardrobe styling service. I style and shop for clients on a personal level and do editorial styling for commercial publications.
What part of your job might surprise people?
The psychological component of standing in front of someone’s closet. We typically think in the “Big Picture” sense of having someone help us with our wardrobe. Once the stylist (who may be a perfect stranger) is standing in front of your closet, it’s opening a window to one of the most intimate parts of your home.
Favorite perk of your job?
When I get a message from a client saying: “OMG, I just got so many compliments today on my new look, I would have never put this together, Thank you!”
Who are your customers?
I am so fortunate to say they come from all walks of life. As of May 2017 one of my clients is the first female Mayor of La Plata, Maryland! Male and female clients, stay at home moms, military service members and their spouses, young professionals etc.
If I weren’t a stylist, I’d be:
A teacher. I taught English to elementary school children in South Korea for 2 years and then English to high school students in Medellin, Colombia for 1 year.
Who I admire and why:
So many to name but the three that come to mind are Michelle Obama, for her style and grace. The late, iconic fashion stylist L’Wren Scott, for her attention to detail and always making sure her client’s privacy was paramount to her business. Jimmy Iovine from Interscope Records and co- founder of the successful head phones “Beats by Dre”. I’ve followed Jimmy’s career since I was a teenager and marvel at his incredible journey in the entertainment business. All his ups and downs and how he stays focused through it all.
What do you wear to work to feel like your most powerful self?
A pencil skirt always makes me feel powerful. Add on a colorful shoe and I feel like Wonder Woman!
How would you describe your style?
I would describe my personal style as modern. I embrace trends, but don’t live by them.
Where are your favorite places to shop?
My favorite places to shop are Ann Taylor, Loft, South Moon Under, New York & Company and Target.
What are your favorite things to style? Redcarpet, Galas, Editorial, Everyday?
My favorite thing to style for are editorial shoots. It gives me a chance to play dress up. Take the whimsical, glamorous images I have in my mind and bring them to life. I couldn’t possibly do that without an amazing team of creatives to get my dream from my head onto a set.
What are a couple recent projects you’ve worked on?
My most recent projects included a glam editorial shoot featuring stunning model Maggie Tehan in Carolina Herrera with photographer Dave Mentzer and I had a blast doing a shoot with you Angelica, styled in Loft and South Moon Under in collaboration with Market Common Clarendon with the fab photographer Birch behind the camera!
What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired?
When I’m feeling uninspired, I turn to the fashion bibles like Vogue, Instyle, Marie Claire, grab a coffee and flip through the pages.
What are your top 3 entrepreneurial tips?
1. Rome wasn’t built in a day. 2. Blinders on and stay focused 3. It’s ok to fail and not get it right the first time.
How did you get the idea or concept for your business?
My husband was my inspiration. I was having a conversation with my mother-in-law and said “Maybe in another life I’ll become a stylist” and my husband responded with “Why do you have to wait for the next one? Do it now”
What was your mission at the outset?
To help people and make them feel confident.
How do you advertise your business?
I advertise my business using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google +.
To what do you attribute your success?
I attribute my success to my blog. The blog became the window into my own personal style and a way for readers and potential clients to get to know me as a person, not the stylist.
What made you choose your current location?
My husband got a job with a military contractor in 2012 and we moved to Virginia from upstate New York.
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher. I loved helping kids younger than me and telling them how special they were.
What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
I learned that communication is key to success. Confident and positive communication guarantees a happy route to the overall success of the company, the mission or the project.
How do you use social media?
I use social media all day, every day to stay on top of current trends, breaking news and to promote my brand and business.
What’s your favorite book at the moment?
I must admit I don’t read much but the last book I read was “The Magician’s Way” It’s a great book that teaches you how to get out of your own way.
What did you learn from your biggest failure?
Allowing yourself to sulk, feel bad, have at least 48 hours to eat your feelings is fine. After the 48 hours are up, GET UP and get back at it.
How do you find inspiration in your professional and personal life?
Every time I’m standing in front of a rack of clothing, I get a rush of inspiration. In my personal life, my husband and daughter inspire me to dream as big as possible.
How do you cope with nerves before public speaking or before meeting a new client?
Before a public speaking event, I just come out and tell the crowd I’m nervous, ask for a little patience and break the ice with some tidbits about myself. Typically, sharing that I’m a mama to a toddler gets a few sympathetic looks like “Oh thank God I’m not alone.” (Giggle) Before meeting a new client, I like to bring the client a tea or coffee and maybe some yummy macaroons while we work through their closet.
What’s your favorite quote?
It’s a quote from Maya Angelou featured on a hip hop track for the rapper Common:
“Once you find your shoulders dropping
And your speech gets slow and hazy
You better change your way of being
Before you found your brain got lazy
You can build a better future when you join the winning team
If you desire a bright tomorrow, you must build a brighter dream
Dare to let your dreams reach beyond you
Know that history holds more than it seems
We are here alive today because our ancestors dared to dream…”
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Oh my, I have a few. (Giggle) Indecision and lack of communication are big ones for me.
What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Hands down the Bahamas. My husband and I had two of the most blissful weeks there in 2012 and we think of it often.
What do you think is the most important innovation of your lifetime thus far?
It’s a gift and a curse, but the cell phone.
What was your favorite class in college?
I don’t remember the name of the class, it was based in the history of art. I was given an academic award for best student in that class.
What are your favorite restaurants in the D.C. area & why?
My all time favorite restaurant is Chef Geoff’s. I had a Christmas dinner with friends at the restaurant years ago and we sampled each other’s plates. I loved everything on the menu.
What are your favorite places to take family & friends when they’re visiting from out of town?
Without a question my favorite place to take our family & friends is The National Mall.
What is the last tv show you “binge watched”?
Stranger Things season 2.
Are you using your college degree(s)?
At the moment, I am not. I am a Political Scientist with a double major in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. That doesn’t mean I will never use it again, just not right now.
Brunch? Lunch? Or Dinner?
Brunch is my favorite!
What would people who think they really know you be surprised to find out about you?
That I’m actually pretty shy and like to be an introvert. I’m also Canadian and love Muay Thai kickboxing.
What is your work-life balance like? Do you think such a thing even exists when running a company?
Having a work life balance is so important and sometimes the scale isn’t always in your favor. As a wife and mother, I want to be there for my family and share in the moments with them. As an independent woman and business owner, I know I have so much potential and so many goals I want to achieve. That’s a daily struggle but sometimes it’s nice to plan to do nothing and not look at the phone all day. I just did an editorial photoshoot depicting that internal struggle.
What do you think helps a brand stand out and garner more attention?
I think what helps a brand is being transparent with your customers. Who do you cater to? Stick with it, listening to their customer base, improving and showing their audience appreciation.
What are your go to resources for keeping current on your industry? My go to is of course, social media. Instagram is a great picture story of what’s going on. Twitter provides insight into the breaking news of the fashion industry.
What is one thing in your current career that you’ve found to be a teachable moment?
While the hurricane of the “teachable” moment is swirling around you, your integrity is unwavering.
What are your upcoming projects?
I have two editorial shoots in December. One is for a holiday theme and one is with my brother (@fabthebrand on Instagram) who is a commercial photographer in Toronto, Canada.
Change I’d like to see in my Industry:
More genuine positivity and empowerment. Let it be known and always at the forefront, that there is enough success and money for everyone.
Superhero Power I’d like to have:
Move things with my mind. Imagine how much easier cleaning the house would be!!!!
Business Advice to My Younger Self:
Go to fashion school, refine your love of fashion.
The 3 Qualities That Got Me Where I Am Today:
My dad always told me that once we leave this earth, the only thing that remains is your name. Make sure that your integrity leaves a good name in this world. The other two qualities are honesty and standing up for what is right.
Patty lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband, daughter and dog Bradford.