Lani Inlander of Real Life Style is known for giving people life changing makeovers. She is a fashion expert and an incredible stylist. She has all the qualities of a woman you want to be besties with: caring, considerate, patient, professional, warm, friendly and most of all non-judgemental. She recently co-founded The Stylist Studio with Rosana Vollmerhausen of DC Style Factory. The opportunities keep coming for Lani and I applaud her for all she’s accomplished thus far. She is truly an inspiration. Find out more about Lani in my exclusive interview, 30 Questions With Lani Inlander.
1. How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I knew I wanted to dress people from the time I was 14 but there was no personal styling industry at the time. I was lucky enough to work for the first personal styling firm in NYC for 7 years, beginning in college.
2. What was your mission at the outset?
My mission has always been to help women who have no time for themselves look and feel put together every day.
3. How many employees?
I’ve had one full time employee for about 3 years and will be adding another one this summer.
4. How do you advertise your business? My main form of marketing is my fashion and lifestyle blog, Real Life Style.
5. To what do you attribute your success? My sincere desire to increase the self-confidence of as many other women as possible.
6. What made you choose your current location? I started my business in New York City in 2006 and expanded to DC when I got married in 2010.
7. What are your company’s goals for 2017? Our goal is to continue to train other women in personal styling through our training program, The Stylist Studio.
8. What is unique about your business? I have the most experience of any stylist in this market. Most personal stylists came to this career from another one, but not me. Other than the year I spent as a fashion marketing manager, during which I moonlighted as a stylist, I have been a personal stylist since I was 22 years old.
9. What made you choose this type of business? Being a personal stylist does not feel like work. I get paid to make women feel good about themselves and to go shopping. You can’t really get better than that!
10. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be? It’s okay if you don’t know exactly where you want to be in 5 years. Where you are now is exactly where you should be. Concentrate on annual goals and don’t be afraid to change your mind on the direction of your business. Follow the passion and the money will come.
11. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a kid I thought I should be a lawyer because that is what smart girls did. However, I’ve known I wanted to dress people since I was 14 years old.
12. What was your first business idea and what did you do with it? I must tell you, I never wanted my own business. If I hadn’t gotten laid off from my job as a fashion marketing manager, I would never have started my own business. I accidentally started my business after telling people for years that I didn’t want it. Of course I quickly became the happiest business owner ever! The Stylist Studio, the personal stylist training I recently started with another DC area personal stylist (Rosana Vollmerhausen/DC Style Factory), is my first intentional business idea from inception.
13. What do you wish you knew before you started your first business?
Confidence is half the battle.
14. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
It isn’t enough to continue the status quo. You need to come up with innovative ways for your company to grow.
15. What’s your best hiring tip/secret? Hire people who can do things you can’t, or don’t want to do.
16. How do you use social media? We use social media to share new fashion finds and seasonal trends with current and prospective clients as well as our loyal blog readers.
17. What’s your favorite book? The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam should be required reading for all women business owners. Courage and time management, what else do you need?!
18. What did you learn from your biggest failure? Getting laid off taught me there is no such thing as job security if you work for someone else. The only employer you can count on is yourself.
19. How do you find inspiration? I make regular trips to New York to see clients, shop and check out the latest museum exhibits. I also find a change of scenery, even travelling locally, inspiring.
20. What was the best piece of advice you ever got? Get an intern.
21. What’s your productivity secret? The Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change. I’ve been using it for almost a year and cannot imagine working without it. I ordered a case of them so I never run out!
22. How do you cope with nerves before public speaking? I make sure I have enough time to mingle before the talk with some of the people to whom I will be addressing. By the time I begin the talk, I feel like I’m speaking with friends.
23. What’s your favorite quote? “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” -Oprah
24. What is your biggest pet peeve? Indecisiveness
25. What’s your favorite vacation spot? I never get tired of London. I was just there in November for my 40th
26. What do you think is the most important innovation of your lifetime thus far? Online shopping of course!
27. Who would you most like to have dinner with? Lin-Manuel Miranda
28. What was your favorite class in college? Product Development, Fashion. I created a line of lingerie for Barneys Co-op. I remember making my boyfriend stay up all night with me to help cut out little tiny bras and underwear to paste on foam board.
29. What are your favorite restaurants in the DC area & why? Rasika West End. I love both authentic Indian food and modern cuisine. Rasika West End manages to combine the two with the addition of beautiful interiors and glamourous energy. Barcelona is my easy, go-to place to meet clients for Happy Hour or friends for cocktails and snacks after the kids go to bed.
30. What are your favorite places to take family & friends when they’re visiting from out of town? 2 Amy’s is my default if family or friends are in for only one night. It is around the corner so we can phone in an order for pick up 10 minutes ahead of time and avoid the line altogether. And again, Barcelona!
Lani lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and two kids. For more information, visit www.real-life-style.com