with Stacey Hartley, founder, To Be Revealed Styling
My Instagram community love to slide into my DMs with questions about my personal style and its touch points with Charlotte Argyrou Illustration. It’s a funny one, because it is not really been something I’ve consciously developed or refined. Rather, I’ve ebbed and flowed with my passions and tastes, along with the desire to truly connect with my dream clients through my creative work. So I spoke to Stacey Hartley, floral and event designer and tablescaper of To Be Revealed Styling. Like me, Stacey had a previous career in the fashion industry, and I was keen to see where this helped and hindered in her business concept. We chat below about floral connection, personal and creative business style, and share our tips to help you discover yours.
Stacey Hartley, founder, To Be Revealed Styling
Stacey: I’ve always felt like that person who dresses a little differently and bolder than other people I know. Actually – if I’m being really honest from the the age of about eight to 13 I was a complete Tomboy and wouldn’t be seen in a floral dress! (People never believe that, but it really is true). Even though I grew out of this stage, it still took time for my own style to develop. I guess it came as I developed myself as a person.
Stacey: I was probably about 21 when I found my own kind of style. Or that was when I realised I had a style. People would always show me things saying “I saw this and thought of you!” – I think statements like that are when you realise you DO have a signature style. People still say this to me now. I get messages from people on Instagram who send me things saying they think of me when they see a particular dress or tablescape and I absolutely love that.
Stacey: I think working in fashion retail gave me some expression time. Uniform allowances and constant Fashion Role Model competitions meant I always strived to look nice. I think working in this environment was both good and bad. Good in a way, I got to dress nicely everyday. Bad in a way of always having to keep up with trends – THIS absolutely caught me out. I realised a lot later that I am really not a trend follower – but, wow, this really catches you out sometimes. I do think everyone goes through the trend following phase though.
Charlotte: I totally agree. Working in high fashion as a publicist (working on everything from the international fashion weeks to store launches to celebrity dressing) gave me an acute awareness of trends. In my twenties, I felt pressure to buy into each trend, to demonstrate my awareness and expertise. But as I matured and gained greater security in my own style, I found it far easier to let some trends wash straight over me. I’m talking to you normcore and cycling shorts….
In the Beginning
Stacey: I’ve always found myself wanting to wear things that are a little bolder than others. I’m not sure where my flower connection started but I think it comes from being a child that always wanted to be outdoors. I loved being playful and I haven’t grown out of that at all as I’ve grown up. I do think my years in retail gave me the expressive period that I think most of us go through. I remember picking out my outfits and buying clothes for work and suddenly noticing that I was building up a lovely collection of floral garments – something my husband now affectionately calls my Botanical Garden.
Stacey: I think the only pain point I had about my own style was what suited my figure. Naturally as a woman I have fluctuated but what has probably bothered me the most is suffering with IBS and digestive issues. The bloat is real for me unfortunately, more often than not. When it worsened, I started to become more ‘floaty’ and ‘free’. Gradually it just became a thing. I never liked wearing jeans – I find them restrictive and annoying. I feel my best self in a big bold printed dress. Finding my own happiness with my style definitely came from all these factors combined.
Charlotte: I think it’s so inspiring how you transformed a negative into a positive. You’ve made what works for your body harmonious with your mind and personality. There’s a lesson for all of us there!
What’s Right for You
Stacey: I think everyone looks back on things they used to wear and cringes, but I think it’s just part of figuring it all out.
Charlotte: Like my bodycon dress obsession circa 2010?
Stacey: My style has evolved so much across the bold spectrum, but leaving my retail job in 2018 definitely allowed me to cement my own signature style. To Be Revealed Styling‘s connection to nature and all things floral again has given me such a huge boost. As time has gone on, I’m not bothered by people’s opinions and focus solely on what makes me feel amazing and powerful!
I remember when I was a dancer and had spent a full month wearing black and had to spend hours doing my hair everyday. The day we finished that particular show I remember feeling horrible and just wanted to feel nice. So I jumped in the shower, washed two weeks worth of hairspray from my hair, popped on a floral dress and some brogue boots and just felt incredible – like I had come back to life. It really helps my mental health to feel completely happy in what I wear each day.
“As time has gone on, I’m not bothered by people’s opinions and focus solely on what makes me feel amazing and powerful”
Stacey Hartley, founder, To Be Revealed Styling
Personal Style in Creative Business
Charlotte: So let’s talk about how and where your personal style and business style meet. How did To Be Revealed Styling begin, aesthetically?
Stacey: I always thought it would be really easy to find my own style when I set up my business. It came about really randomly as I needed a huge change after working in the dance industry for many years. I initially did some training as a wedding planner but soon realised that it wasn’t for me, but the style side absolutely was! They would always say in the training “Find your style – Find your niche” and I think that can sometimes be a bit consuming and scary when you’re new.
Stacey: My personal style is much more floral filled, dark moody and maximal than I was going for with my branding and work. It just took me a little time to realise that the actual reason why I wasn’t connecting myself or connecting fully with others was because it clearly wasn’t an accurate representation of who I am. I guess I didn’t realise that the whole ‘trend’ thing had crept back in, this time with my business.
Charlotte: In the early days of Charlotte Argyrou Illustration, I was so eagar to be liked by everyone and receive every booking possible. I think this lack of confidence revealed itself through my – frankly – “vanilla” branding. Everything was white and plain with a little bit of grey as an accent colour.
“I had to learn the hard way the aches and pains of the dreaded putting yourself out there. You simply can’t fake it or try to appeal to everyone all the time. You’ll only attract the wrong audience and the resulting work will feel unfulfilling. So I had to do the dirty work I was avoiding – discover who I was, who I wanted to work with and how I wanted to work. The moment that clicked, everything instantly fell into place. The Wedding Bouquet Illustration Service skyrocketed and every single booking that came my way was perfect, without me needing to hustle or chase after it.”
Charlotte Argyrou, Botanical Illustrator, founder of Wedding Bouquet Illustration Service
The 2020/21 Pandemic
Stacey: The Covid19 lockdowns really reignited my flower love and that is probably where I made stylistic breakthroughs. I don’t know about anyone else but I’m not the kind of person who can sit in my pyjamas or loungewear. Even everyday in lockdown I got up and got dressed nicely. It’s just who I am and I love it.
Charlotte: I hear you. Though homeschooling led me to some long, loungewear-based days, I certainly enjoyed #DressUpFriday to entertain myself and my Instagram community.
Stacey: It might sound crazy, but the lockdowns gave me some time to really think about myself. A business that reflects me and my passions makes me light up. I wasn’t wanting to just do weddings. I saw my business being broader in terms of offering, but more niche in terms of actual style. So I set up a huge floral filled, maximal styled shoot where I could just set myself free and get the imagery that really reflects my style. All in Bloom was just the contents of my brain and the most ‘me’ shoot that I have ever done. Everything changed from that shoot and you’ll definitely see the change in my business style.
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Charlotte and Stacey’s 3 Tips for Personal Style
Step away from being fed constant information and inspiration for a little while. Disconnect from other opinions.
We are at our most self conscious when we are uncomfortable and in personal style this leaves us vulnerable. We must feel comfortable in our own skin and connect with the work we do. Lean in to what feels good and you’ll find your most authentic inspiration.
3. Take Massive Imperfect Action
In your creative business, step back to look into your business from an outside perspective. Ask trusted peers and ideal clients questions on what they see and how they feel when they see your work and your images. If the answers aren’t what you think or what you want them to be – it’s definitely time to make some changes. Brainstorm things that make you who you are and fill your energetic cup, and keep going until you find dots are joining.
Stacey: The hardest thing for me when making changes in the business was losing followers. It felt quite disheartening but was outweighed by all the new followers I gained when I shifted to my more genuine, signature style. Ones who truly get me and connect to what I do.
Stacey: Now, I am focusing more on tablescapes and flowers with a hint of food thrown in there too. Three things I love. Everything I do has a maximal, floral edge – still with a hint of moodiness in terms of imagery. I’m also edging towards working more with brands and on campaigns. I recently worked as a floral stylist for a luxury bathing brand which was a dream. They found me via my website which is another amazing thing which makes refining and commiting to my signature style a very worthwhile process.
Stacey: Finding your signature style can feel so scary, but honestly it just comes from within. I’m always inspired by bold women who are flamboyant and so comfortable with how they dress and in their creative work. That is where you find it. Your signature style is right there in that feeling.