We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Gisondi-Little and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, have you built meaningful relationships at networking events? What makes you want to connect with someone, and what are things people do that make you want to steer clear?
I am fortunate that I have always had an easy time connecting with most anyone, but there is no question that it’s easier when I am the one approached. Maybe it’s the Irish in me – and I did kiss the Blarney Stone – but I am not usually at a loss for words, for better or worse. I always enjoy talking about my work because I believe so deeply in the value of what it does for clients. Having worked for noted designers Emanuel Ungaro and Nicole Miller, I am adamant about demystifying ‘Fashion’ for all. Working behind the scenes crystalizes the sweat, tears and schlepping that go into making the industry tick. I am 100% in for the fantasy of fashion, just as I can appreciate a beautiful painting, but once that sheen of glamour is removed, it’s easy to see the Pretty Woman saleswoman’s attitude for what it is; exclusion and mean-spiritedness. Vis a vis networking, the open-hearted and curious, the confident and genuine, the great listeners – these are the gold standard in connections. I aim to behave the same way (the last one is not always easy! I have so much to say!) not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because I believe our energies are contagious and you get what you give. I often recall a statistic from my time in the film industry; for every set you work on, you make fifteen connections. I keep an open mind whenever I make an acquaintance; you never know whose unexpected insight might prod you to think outside the box or be a valuable connector themselves. Naturally, I’m always happiest when I make connections that feel effortless. Instinctually, I am repelled by those who aren’t genuine or present, who scan the room for bigger fish rather than make eye contact and engage. It’s off-putting when someone needs to be the loudest in the room simply for validation or when people are dismissive (or overly fawning) based on others’ appearance. Certainly, there will be some connections that are less fruitful than others, but there is no reason to make anyone feel invisible. In the end, kindness is king.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Most people associate the term ‘personal stylist’ with celebrity and spending endless amounts of money on designer clothing. What sets me apart as a stylist is that what I espouse is more or less the antithesis of that perception. I coach clients to start with their existing wardrobe, buy strategically and consciously for every aspect of their life, no matter who they are. We develop awareness about their individual values as a consumer, insight into who they are now and the life they want to cultivate. I also KNOW that everyone deserves to feel great about themselves, regardless of their budget, body, personal style or work. It’s how I coined the term ‘Fashion Therapist’. What I do is so intimate and specific to each client. I always say, it’s about so much more than ‘just clothes’. One of the greatest things I have learned that radiates through the rest of my life is that businesses change; the business I started is not the same as it has become and that is positive growth! I am a person who craves order and comes from a place and family where you work one job for a lifetime, the end. I started out thinking I’d figured it all out; I’d organize client wardrobes and elevate their style in the process as a bonus. It’s become so much deeper than that, and frankly the organization aspect is now the secondary part of my services. Listening to client needs led naturally to a more baby-steps, educational and emotional approach. It became apparent that I took for common knowledge what was clearly not for so many. When you’re so ‘inside baseball’ about a topic, it can be difficult to parse it out and that has been a great growth edge and process for me. It allows me to bring an ever more multi-layered approach to each client, delving deeper where necessary or speed up when appropriate. Broadening my scope and listening to what the market wanted then allowing the business to morph has been huge. The positive ramifications of that eye-opener touch my life outside of work nearly every day. I worked first in the garment industry for designers in corporate sales, then as an executive in the feature film industry for almost a decade. I became a new mom, understood the trenches of that SAHM headspace and now work from home freelance. This pathway has given me invaluable insight and a facility with clients across all these categories. Nowadays, the majority of my clients are women and men living in LA and working in entertainment, SAHM parents or freelance creatives. In 2018 I listened to the wishes of connections outside of LA to test and developed a virtual styling program. I realized it worked just as well for ‘tune ups’ with existing clients or super busy locals, too. I am so grateful to have worked the kinks out of that prior to this pandemic! It’s made for a very smooth transition for clients.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Don’t tease me! I’d love to show a best friend around, especially now! Seriously though, I would love to show them the great variation LA has to offer. Of course there is the beach – I like driving up PCH to El Matador and would stop for fish tacos at the Reel Inn in Malibu. I’d have to show them the shops on Melrose Place, trying coffee at Alfred and popping into what feels like a portal to Italy, the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. For lunch we should pop over to the original Urth Caffe on Beverly Drive. We’d enjoy a live concert under the stars at The Greek Theater and go for dinner at Gwen on Sunset for the excellent service and beautiful setting. One morning would have to start with a banana manna shake at Beverly Hills Juice Club. Nothing better than this spot for juices and feel-good shakes. We would go vintage and secondhand shopping – our city boasts some of the best there is – and I’d start with my standby Ampersand Boutique on Beverly Blvd. for designer and lunch at Esquela Taqueria, then pop in to Erewhon to show off that quintessentially LA gem! I also love Pygmy Hippo Shoppe for unique gifts, just around the corner. Then we could swing into Wasteland on Melrose for an edgier selection of secondhand. Keeps me young! I would definitely plan a walk in nature at Descanso Gardens or a hike in Griffith Park or Franklin Canyon. Tacos at Guisado’s on Sunset or DTLA on the way back from the east side!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am very grateful to my women’s network of entrepreneurs, in particular Laura Kyttanen of Zielo Studio. She has brought such a welcome, big-picture way of thinking to how I approach my business, and is so forthright and honest around the struggles and juggle it takes to succeed.
Linkedin: Stephanie Gisondi-Little