For luxury personal shopper and stylist Annie Heyward, getting down on the floor and adjusting the hemline on a pair of pants, or adding a pin into a sleeve for a quick adjustment is part of a day’s work. But these days, like many of St. Louis’s stylists, it’s all done via the screen.
Heyward and her AH Styling team had to quickly adapt her business to the “new normal” that has St. Louis City and St. Louis County under a stay at home order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The work itself is different, asking clients to read the fabric blend on their clothing tags or getting them to do a 360-degree twirl over a Zoom video call. And her clients no longer have galas or board meetings, they’ve had to cancel their spring holiday plans, and they don’t even need to pick up their kids from school—all the occasions Heyward generally helps her clients take the guesswork out of getting dressed for, under normal circumstances that is.
But the quarantine hasn’t completely quashed demand—only shifted around priorities. “Many of our clients have expressed frustration and boredom of being stuck inside all day wearing the same yoga pants and pajamas, and while it may seem silly or over the top at first, we have encouraged our client to embrace a spirit of intention and embrace a spirit of thoughtfulness when preparing for those stay at home meetings and sitting at your desk,” Heyward says. “Our clients are actually reporting more feelings of productivity and feeling more professional and they’re feeling all-around more energetic.”
She has been encouraging their clients to think creatively about revamping the athleisure parts of their wardrobes. “You could put on a pair of joggers and a great pair of leather mules and then a little button-up and a knit blazer,” Heyward says. “It’s a little workaround to look and feel more polished, presentable, and put together. I really think clothing is powerful in that way.”
Clothing has the ability to affect how we feel and it has the ability to project a certain image and to tell others a story about who we are, so you have to think about that when getting dressed in the morning,” she adds “That’s the conversation I always have with my cli
ents, even outside of the COVID era. I think it’s even more central and paramount now that we have that conversation with clients.”
Heyward has always done virtual styling sessions with out-of-town clients but now has taken all of her consultations, from closet edits to personal shopping, online. While she would generally recommend clothing and accessories from a wide variety of shops, she is also increasingly directing clients to local businesses and boutiques. She’s also prepping clients to get ready for resort wear to “provide a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“It’s really been so much fun,” she says. “We’re working hard to make sure that nothing is getting lost in translation, and the feedback so far has been extremely positive.”
Another St. Louis–based stylist, Luisa Nuñez, launched a new virtual styling option that would serve as a “preview” for her in-person services, giving clients an opportunity to discover their seasonal color palette and up to four different outfit options best suited to their style. “It’s a good opportunity for people to experience what it actually means to work with someone that does this every day, and then benefit from it and become more curious about it,” she says. Then once the stay at home order is over, clients can book for full sessions and hit the stores.
Home organizer Anna Ortiz-Aragon is using this time to build her digital repertoire, including a “declutter your business” mastermind featuring ten entrepreneurs, as well as a “declutter your life” podcast. On her social media accounts, she hosts a seven-day Declutter Challenge that will soon be released as a free online course. She’s also in the process of editing videos featuring her process of working with clients.
“I’m going to be pumping all that out during this time, and it’s a blessing,” Ortiz-Aragon says. “It’s kind of tedious to be on the computer all of the time, but I’m like, ‘Hey, I think this is the future.’ I think that we are going to be able to reach people in a way that we never have.”
Ortiz Aragon reasons that now that people are staying at home, many will be discovering areas of their lives that have always needed to be streamlined. Take, for example, the kitchen pantry, now that cooking at home is more of a necessity, or the kids’ room if they don’t have a designated space for schooling. “I think we can still be amazed at how much these little things seem like kind of like a luxury,” she says. “If we could have it, we would have really nice houses that were really nicely designed, but we can make that our reality now.”
Interior designers are also improvising to help customers tackle that redesign or renovation that has been on their to-do list. The Design Source is offering virtual styling sessions over Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype for color selections, space planning, complete room designs, and more. Another local designer, Amy Studebaker Design, is keeping her clients engaged through Instagram videos. Her latest clips featured kitchen design and organization tips from the perspective of her own home, and she answered questions from viewers on her Instagram Stories.
Architect and interior design consultant Sanadja Vallon is ramping up her virtual interior design sessions and reminding clients that they can use this time to shop online for new furnishings to give their space a refresh. Vallon tells clients who were already in the hands-on part of the process of renovating a room when the quarantine started that now is the time to begin work on the next room.
“People need to stay at home and spend more than a few hours in the same room,” she says. “One challenge now for people who stay at home is that they don’t have a space to work, or they have it, but it’s not adapted for them to stay at home the whole day. So I’ve been posting on my Instagram some advice for people to make their workspace more attractive, cozy, and comfortable.”
Vallon speaks from experience—she generally works from home, but she has had to adapt to her husband also working from home all day. “Some people have kids now and that’s making it more difficult, so it’s important to find a solution for those working at home with their whole family.”