After working in corporate merchandising and buying for major US retailers for 10 years, I quit my job to pursue an idea I had. As a fashion buyer, I had the job girls dreamed about and the opportunity to work with very talented designers + well-known brands. However, I wasn’t happy, worked really long hours and didn’t get to have the quality time I craved with my family.
One day while at school drop off, I noticed the moms around me. They looked tired, were in a rush and a bit frazzled. Their kids were well dressed, happy and looked like they could walk the runway at a fashion show. I kept hearing from women who were putting themselves last. And I recognized that after kids, your body changes so women were struggling to find what brands worked for the body they have now.
As someone whose friends always asked for fashion advice, I was already doing the work for free. But I didn’t know how I could make it a business. I quit my job five years ago and started researching everything I could and took courses in running a business and a class at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology).
It’s important to hire professionals because we can’t do it alone. I hired a business coach, graphic designer, web designer and photographer. Then, I created my social media accounts and newsletter. And then I went to work. My fashion background was aligned for personal styling and my business acumen helped me avoid doing things that weren’t going to be a good return on investment. Today, I focus on personal styling clients and helping entrepreneurs + executives with personal branding. I’m also a paid speaker and a best-selling author.
I’m a proud mom of two girls, Sofia (10) and Laila (3). My husband, Zahir is a network architect. He’s a kind and generous man and a great complement to me. We are serious foodies and plan our trips around food. We love playing tennis, having dance parties and playing games. The best part of a being a mom is reliving childhood through their eyes. I’m thrilled that they consider me their best friend and I get to help them become strong, confident and capable women. I love watching them explore their fashion choices and take risks before they get caught up on what people will think.
One month before I launched my business, I found out I was pregnant with my second child — and six months after she was born, my husband almost died. (He nearly drowned during our family vacation and had kidney failure, requiring him to go through dialysis treatments.)
This made my first year of business very difficult, but I persevered. I contemplated going back to work, but something inside me pushed me to keep going. I didn’t want to give up on this dream without fully getting a chance to do it all the way. Last year, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, and he moved into my new house with us. The tough times show you what you’re made of. I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to.
Being a mom is a daily struggle for balance and sanity. Knowing that the work will never end and that things won’t come close to perfect helps me keep focused on my goals. I have limited time, so I manage two Google calendars and plan networking and coffee dates in advance. My business is about helping moms get their style groove back, so having so many wonderful mom clients in my life is so empowering. I want them to look good so they can go and do the work they are meant to do.
Your business growth is correlated to the amount of effort you put it into it and where you want to channel your energy and, most important, your time. Building a lasting business takes time and patience. Stop comparing yourself to others; it’s toxic and takes you away from doing the work.
I became a mom at a time when most of my friends weren’t married, so I felt lonely. Surround yourself with other moms. Join the moms Facebook group in your town, schedule playdates and get out of the house every day. Practice self-care: manicure, meditation, exercise, etc and most importantly time with girlfriends.
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Neepa Sikdar is a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant based in Northern New Jersey and owns Accessible Style. Her goal is to fill her client’s closet with outfits that allow her to walk confidently toward wherever life takes her each day. Her services include closet editing, personal shopping, outfit styling, event styling, personal branding and photo shoot styling. She’s a fashion writer for local magazines, a speaker on style, and a best-selling author of Redefining Success. She has a weakness for bags and shoes; and she’s a serious foodie + cook who loves to explore her culinary palette. Find her on Instagram and Facebook.
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