For this month's Trailblazer we are SO excited to feature Annie Heyward, Owner and Head Stylist of Annie Heyward Styling. We have known Annie for many years and she has always been one of our favorite collaborators. We always feel so inspired when working with Annie. She has such an incredible talent to put together fun, fresh looks at the drop of a hat while making her customers look and feel fabulous. Learn more about Annie below and if you are in need of a new wardrobe, styling for an event or help on your big day, she's your gal!
Something you wish someone had told you about starting a company?
Hire a good accountant. I was a fashion merchandising major and had extensive experience in retail, merchandising and styling when I started my business; however, my financial and business acumen wasn't well-developed. I didn't understand like the nuances of running a business - things like bookkeeping, accounting, keeping track of receipts, and the entire tax system! I think it's essential to seek out financial mentors and business mentors to keep the business side- organized. Get a great CPA for those write-offs!
What advice would you give to a woman who is considering starting her own business?
Firstlt, I would encourage any woman who is starting a business to interview other small business owners. I had several conversations with my business-owner colleagues about things like taxes and marketing. In general I think it's important to have older women who are mentors and women who have experience in the business world give you advice.
What's the best career advice you've ever received?
Always put the customer first is my business mantra. I always tell my assistants and interns that the business will not succeed if the customer isn't happy. We adopt the Nordstrom customer service policy that we are willing to go above and beyond to accommodate the clients needs. If customers aren't happy with your services then you will lose business and revenue. I think customer service is of paramount importance.
What do you love about running around Business?
I love that I'm in charge of my own time, monetizing doing what I love, helping women look and feel fabulous, helping my clients look amazing. I love that I am my own boss and dictate the direction of my career and my business. I especially love mentoring and managing my assistants and interns; there is so much fulfillment from having a team around you. There's also a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that motivates me to continue growing and achieving my goals.
Who inspires you as a businesswoman?
As I discussed earlier, I have several successful business owners who are mentors of mine. These women inspire me and have given me so much support, advice, constructive criticism and encouragement. In terms of a fashion icon I really respect and look up to Diane von Furstenurg: one of her biggest mantras is, "you don't have to be a bitch to be successful." That mentality really inspires me because the fashion industry is fiercely competitive, and a lot of women are out for themselves. I think it's important to be kind above all else!
How do you stay motivated through difficult times?
You definitely have to have the support of your close friends and family; just remember that when one door closes another door opens. It can be really discouraging when you lose a client or take a dip in revenue, but what motivates me to keep going is that I love what I do and I'm very driven and ambitious. Any failures or setbacks I experience I always try to view in a positive light. So remember, when one door closes, another door opens - and usually something bigger and better is waiting on the other side. Not everyone will accept and love you and your brand/product/service, but just keep working your ass off and being authentically you!
What's been the most rewarding?
It's a well known statistic that most small business ventures and start-ups fail within the first three years. I've been in business now for nine years, and it's been very rewarding not only seeing the growth of my company financially, but growing to a point where I now have a team. The most rewarding feeling ultimately is seeing my clients' transformations, seeing them happy and feel confident in their own skin. I love seeing them look and feel fabulous! I get more satisfaction from that than anything else. However, it's also been exciting to see my work published and respected.
Who were you before you started your business?
To be completely honest, I felt a little bit directionless before I started my business. I knew what I was good at it, I knew what motivated me and set my soul on fire (so to speak), but I wasn't sure how to make my dreams and business materialize. So without knowing what I was doing, I took a chance and took some business classes. I made the leap and the investment for the start-up costs, and here I am nine years later with clients all over the country!
If you weren't running a business what would you be doing?
If I wasn't running my own business I would love to be....hmmm. Running another business? Opening a boutique or being an interior designer.
Where do you see your business in five years?
I see myself working with clients all over the world and working for and with prominent fashion publications and editorials. I'm fortunate to have clients all over the country, but I would like to continue to diversify my client portfolio. The next step for me is to monetize off of Instagram and through affiliate programs. As a fashion and style blogger, the goal will be to generate some passive income as well as actively working with clients.
What is your favorite quote?
JRR Tolkien: "little by little one travels far." The second is "be who you are and say what you feel and those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss
The best lesson I've ever learned?
Pay the IRS before you pay yourself!
Best thing I've ever done
This might sound intense, but I grew up in a hyper-religious community that was borderline cultish. I left the church when I was 23, and that was the best decision I've ever made. I have been living authentically and pursuing my dreams and passions ever since. It was a very oppressive environment and it was very difficult leaving that community, but it was the best scission I've ever made. I haven't looked back!
My greatest fear
My greatest fear is my mom dying. I am best friends with her, and she's my greatest cheerleader and support system. She stands behind me unconditionally loving me with no judgment, just as I am. My mom is my best friend, and without a doubt I fear losing her more than anything else in the world.
My top three guilty pleasures
C A R B S x 3 (a.k.a. Ice cream, pizza and pasta)