WENDY MAK: Fashion Mentor & Entrepreneur
In her early days, Wendy established an agency and trained professional stylists – one of the first programs of its kind. When you’re not seeing Wendy’s entrepreneurial acumen in full mentoring spin or pulling off a vibrant colourful ensemble she is delivering talks for high brow speaking sessions and industry events. The most impressive thing besides being one of the first in the business? She is down to earth – accessible and super nice. The perfect fashion friendly femme!
WHAT DO YOU DO AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT?
I have a blog www.WendyMak.com with fashion advice for working women, plus I also train and mentor anyone who wants to become a fashion stylist!
I love helping – whether that’s saving you 10 minutes in the morning by making it easier for you to work out what to wear or helping you start a new career as a personal stylist.
WHAT MADE YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?
I knew I didn’t want to spend the next 40 years of my working life stuck in an office, hoping for a token gold watch as a retirement present!!
So when I saw a gap in the market, I took it. At the time, fashion stylists were an expensive service for celebrities or the rich. I saw an opportunity to make this service accessible for the everyday woman – so I did!
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION / STUDY BACKGROUND?
Officially, a Bachelors degree in Commerce.
But the best “study” I’ve ever completed has been the hands-on, real-life lessons I’ve learnt from building my business.
I was also lucky enough to meet a couple of amazing mentors early in my corporate life, who taught me the importance of having the right attitude and strong work ethic.
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND WOMEN STUDY OR DO TO BEST EQUIP THEMSELVES TO GET INTO YOUR INDUSTRY?
A lot of women think that being a personal stylist is fun (which it is) and easy (which it’s not).
When you’re a stylist it’s not just about the clothes – it’s about communication, knowing how to provide a great service and tactfully handling a client’s insecurities about their image or body. And then there’s the business side, marketing, finding clients and more!
Because there’s so much involved, don’t “wing it”. Invest in training from someone with experience who’s willing to show you the ropes and be a mentor to you.
(Check out Wendy’s online, home study course to become a personal stylist here)
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH THEM?
When I first started as a stylist, the industry was very closed and competitive. That was really difficult and confronting. No one would help me, no one would teach me. It’s probably why I fell into teaching others later on as I didn’t want anyone to experience what I did.
Also – cash flow is a big challenge. Cash really IS king!
Not getting your cash flow right is the difference between surviving or failing. You literally have to juggle money in the door and paying your bills so the business can continue to operate.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Ironically, my biggest achievement is something I didn’t even know I was creating.
A few years ago, I started a group to help graduates of my training course stay in touch.
Today, it is the best thing I’ve ever done. We have connected more than 150 stylists right across the country. I look at them collaborating and supporting each other, and think “wow, we’ve just changed how this industry operates”! It’s amazing.
WHAT IS THE BEST BEAUTY PRODUCT YOU’D RECOMMEND?
Mecca’s To Save Face SPF 30 facial moisturiser.
Sunscreen is your best anti-aging friend. This one from Mecca is the perfect texture and base for your foundation with SPF 30 coverage. Not cheap but when it comes to wrinkles, I’m happy to pay for good prevention – it’s got to be cheaper and easier than the cure!
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNT FROM A MISTAKE YOU’VE MADE IN THE PAST?
Surround yourself with excellent suppliers. Bad suppliers cost you time and money.
HAS YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS CHANGED FOR YOU OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER?
When I worked in corporate, “success” was money. I worked in financial services, so the salaries and bonuses were significant.
Then I learnt that true success for me, was TIME. I didn’t want to spend my life working in an office 5 days a week, no matter how much money you threw at me. Today, I make less money than I did, but I’m a lot more satisfied and fulfilled because I feel like I’ve got time for life!
Success is what you define it to be. It’s whatever makes YOU feel happy in this world.
REFLECTING ON YOUR CAREER TO DATE, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF AT THE BEGINNING?
To my young, corporate self, I’d say “learn not to take things personally, and be adaptable”. When you work for someone else, a lot of stuff is out of your control – so go with the flow and don’t let it bug you when things change.
For my business self, I’d say “be mentally prepared for how tough some days will be, learn how to bounce back from setbacks and double the time and money you think you’ll need!!”.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE STRESS / ANXIETY / WORK LIFE BALANCE?
I have a wonderful husband and two bulldogs. There’s nothing like a hungry husband patiently waiting for me to finish my emails before having dinner and two dogs trying to get my attention by stealing my favourite shoes from my wardrobe, to remind me what life is about.
That’s when I know it’s time for me to forget about work, close the laptop, grab a wine and squeeeeeeeeeze my puppy dogs!! (And maybe my husband)
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND THE STYLING BUSINESS?
I’m very focused on building a community of stylists and raising the bar professionally for our industry.
I’ve also got a couple of new products launching soon to help working women with their style and wardrobes.
A second book might also be on the cards!! (You can find my first book “The Terrific Thirty – 1000 Outfits from 30 Pieces” on Amazon).
WHAT THREE WORDS WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
Pocket rocket (let’s pretend that’s one word!)