Meet Brenna Lyden: a social media guru with an eye for fashion. At just eighteen years old, she founded Chic Street Style, a fashion blog and personal stylist service. Now, she’s twenty-three, and still doing what she loves.
Her Campus: What, or who, inspired you to start a fashion blog?
Brenna Lyden: I wanted a platform to showcase my style and really refine my styling skills. I knew I also shamelessly wanted a walking, talking representation of myself that employers could look at to give me a competitive advantage in the apparel industry. Four years later, I can honestly say, it worked!
HC: How did you decide to start your own company? Was it something you've always wanted to do?
BL: I always knew I wanted to be my own boss, have creative control and create something out of nothing and that is exactly what entrepreneurship is to me. I wish I could tell you I had it all in mind and everything worked out according to plan, but that simply isn't true. I started my blog, saw an opportunity in the market for a technology-based styling service and chased it, and then created Chic Street Style, LLC. to run them both and monetize them. I had moments of realization and pivots where I adapted to my clients and followers needs.
HC: Are you a full-time personal stylist?
BL: No, I always strived to be a triple threat (as a direct quote from my first interview with Nordstrom). I want to be a buyer for Nordstrom, a successful fashion blogger and run my own styling company. I'm never content with one thing and I think being engaged in multiple facets of the industry makes me better in the other things I do. I'm lucky that I love what I do and can assist my clients no matter where I am. By using Skype, I can be with my clients at any time of day. So whether they need live expert help walking through their closet or want to redo their wardrobe for the upcoming season, technology is always my most “flexible” friend that enables me to do more with my time EVERY day.
HC: What was your major in school? Did it relate to what you're doing now?
BL: I was an apparel merchandising major with minors in entrepreneurship and journalism. Looking at it on a screen, it all makes perfect sense to what I'm doing now. But from experience, I will tell you this: what you do outside of the classroom is exponentially more important that what you do inside of it. It's what happens outside of Econ 101 that will get you a job and makes you employable.
HC: What inspired you to use Skype to communicate with all your clients? What are the benefits and challenges of using a program like Skype to conduct your business?
BL: Using Skype has been a pretty seamless experience especially knowing I have the convenience of switching how I use it! If I’m on the go, I can connect with my clients from my tablet or smartphone. If I am at home, I might opt to use Skype on my laptop or desktop.
I was thinking about styling and how women, I'm talking real women (not CEO wives or celebrities) wanted to shop and be styled. Making appointments, having someone come into your home and paying heavy fees and being dependent on a single location weren't a part of that picture. By using Skype, I have created a convenient, effective and affordable way to style. While it is free for me to use Skype, as a business owner, it allows me to style anyone from anywhere. All my clients have to do is pay a single up-front fee (not an hourly charge) for my services. These virtual sessions can work in between their busy schedules. Before we meet, I use Skype’s instant messaging feature to send them a style questionnaire. Clients create a virtual closet by uploading pictures of the pieces in their closet to Microsoft’s One Drive platform (which I "clean out" for them). Next, we have a Skype appointment and all of the shopping is executed online. I use affiliate links (that pay me commission for what my clients buy) to help supplement the fees and make the upfront charge less. At the end of the process, I create a look book fusing their old pieces and new pieces seamlessly.
HC: Do you have any fashion tips for college girls at Cal Poly?
BL: Even if you live in a casual town, always wear a third piece. This means a jean jacket, a layer, a plaid shirt tied around your waist - this will always give you a stylized look and therefore make you look more polished. Even if you are wearing something relaxed like leggings, incorporate color, pattern, texture and shine in every outfit to give it dimension and interest.
HC: Last question! What are some of your go-to pieces for the fall?
BL: I live in (and recommend for my clients) leather jackets, fierce boots or booties, a plaid shirt and a no-fuss shirtdress. Make sure your denim wardrobe is diversified to avoid being bored with your jeans. Think of a white, grey and black jean. You should have a flare and a skinny for fall to give you the most options and style. Never underestimate the power of a good lipstick. Rebel by M.A.C is my favorite berry color that is literally flattering on everyone.