We had the good fortune of connecting with Hanna Donnelly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hanna, as a parent, what have you done for you children that you feel has had the most significant impact?
Honesty and transparency. I try to share what’s going on in the world as much as possible with my son (5) in a responsible way. We talk about injustices and how folks are treated differently.
I am trying to teach him that at the end of the day kindness is most important. He told me recently “mom, you give me kindness so I share kindness.” That day made me feel like I was doing something right.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
A couple of things happened but as my business grew, I became increasingly troubled by the waste happening in the fashion world. I remember standing in Bloomingdales and there were racks and racks of clothing on sale. It was a jumbled mess and felt quite depressing.
I stood there, thinking, “Where will all of this end up?” That really got my wheels turning and led to further inquiry and my journey of sustainable fashion.
Coupled with an invitation from a client (now friend) of mine to a high-end hat luncheon at one of Chicago’s most elite private clubs. I’d given myself a $100 outfit challenge, which ended up changing my shopping life forever and my foray into thrift / secondhand wardrobe.
Unknowingly, I’d been a fan of secondhand fashion for a decade- I’d already been wearing my grandma’s wardrobe but I had never gone thrift shopping before.
After that, I slowly introduced secondhand wardrobe to my clients and they loved it (affordable designer clothing and they didn’t “have to do the digging”). However, it still had limitations, especially sizing, which was so frustrating. So I still had to shop mainstream retail but I tried to shop small businesses as much as possible. Supporting small, women-owned businesses is a value of mine so my collections of wardrobe were curated mostly from small businesses, independent designers, secondhand and a few retail basics.
Meanwhile, the other half of my business, a virtual outfitting service, Instantly Outfitted, was growing and I have clients across this country. It helps entrepreneurs know exactly what to wear for their branded photoshoots. It’s been fun using my TV styling knowledge and pairing it with small business!
Lastly, mid-pandemic hit and an experiential marketing company reached out to me looking for virtual styling events and scared-but-excited, I jumped in full force.
That was life and business changing for so many reasons. First, I discovered I loved teaching online which meant I could serve more folks and secondly, people really engaged, especially during the rapid-fire style Q & A. I was getting messages on social media (after my events) which is always inspiring.
I was hooked and knew I was finally “ready” to teach everything I’d learned over the past thirteen years as a personal stylist. So I launched my online styling course, Sustainable and Stylish, teaching folks how to build a wardrobe they’ll wear for years, better mix and match their current items and how to shop affordable sustainable options online.
I began selling it before I made it public.
In hindsight, everything seemed to unfold in exactly the right order.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a little challenging of a question for an introvert like me! I love deep and rich conversation so I often choose somewhere that has the ambiance and right environment for those conversations to happen.
I’m also an aesthetics person so I often end up choosing restaurants based upon their decor. A pretty background makes everything better including your meal and conversation (or is that just me?)
I also love somewhere with good people watching so outdoor dining is always fun when applicable. Pre-Covid I miss the days of outdoor concerts and bringing picnics and drinks with friends hanging out on the grass. I look forward to getting back there. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mom! I was complaining to her once about not being where I wanted to be (financially) and she said “Hanna, you’re richest in everything most important to you.” She meant relationships and it was such a good wakeup call and reminder.
Money is nice, certainly, and provides opportunities but at the end of the day my relationships are what keep me going and have fulfilled me. Friends, family, marriage, motherhood- relationships are absolutely the goodness of my life and I am grateful for that.
Emily Davis, photographer, Emily Davis Studio