I'm not your typical personal stylist.
When growing up, I never once purchased a copy of Vogue, watched a runway show, or knew the names of a brand or designer. I never dreamt of styling celebrities for events or even knew what a personal stylist was for that matter.
From a very early age, I've battled with my weight. In middle school, I walked on a treadmill and ate salads in my attempts to stay trim, while other kids enjoyed their greasy, delicious, chicken finger baskets and never gained a pound.
Fashion and dressing myself didn't come naturally to me--I was self-conscious about certain parts of my body and didn't feel good in my own skin. I was bullied over my chubbiness and clothing choices, prompting me to frequently skip classes by hiding alone in the school's bathroom. Needless to say, I basically felt like an awkward, unattractive, outcast on a daily basis.
It wasn't until I went shopping with my mom for my first homecoming dance dress did I experience the power of amazing fitting clothing. After selecting several dresses on my own and all of them failing miserably, my mother managed to pester me enough to try on a hideous corset and skirt set she had been bugging me about the entire trip. What happened next completely changed the image I had of myself and my self confidence. Looking in the mirror, I felt beautiful, truly, for the first time in my life. My body wasn't ugly and misshapen-- the clothes I had been wearing were.
With a new found trust and appreciation for my mother's style knowledge, (in my defense, I hear all mother daughter relationships are like this!) I began actually listening to and implementing her advice on fit, versatility, and clothing purchasing strategies. It was a complete game changer for my self esteem and the way I felt about myself everyday.
My sophomore year, I finally found a place to belong when I joined the high school's FFA chapter. With a passion for animals, I was obsessed with raising goats, showing heifers, and riding horses. I jammed out to country music, owned pink ostrich cowgirl boots, and had lofty plans of living in the country on a big ranch in Austin one day, far, far away from Houston's busy city life. I chose to attend Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX , where I joined their Rodeo team as a barrel racer and majored in Agricultural Business and Marketing.
Post graduation, my extroverted personality lead me to a career in the sales field which I discovered I not only enjoyed, but excelled at with very little effort. Over the next few years I sold everything from wine to pharmaceuticals, traveling all over Texas, Missouri, and every midwestern state in between. After being fired from a medical device sales company, I was told by headhunters to find another sales career I would need to put on my resume that I was "let go" from my previous company, as opposed to being fired. Being a follower of Jesus Christ, I refused to lie and for months I looked for a job with no success. Not giving up, but getting bored at home, I decided to go work for my favorite clothing store, WHBM, while continuing my search for a new career. That's when my whole life turned upside down.
To my surprise, working with women and style was a blast and I quickly picked up on styling with colors, the magic of accessorizing, body types, and the importance of proportion. It was there I realized how many women struggle with their self confidence and style on a daily basis, the same way I had used to. The sincere expressions of gratitude and relief they shared after I styled them in an outfit they felt amazing in, was overwhelming. When customers started echoing each other, all wistfully wishing I could help them get ready in their closets everyday, the light bulb went off.
8 years later, Ashley Rhodes, Personal Stylist is going strong and I still wake up daily in complete awe and gratitude that God blessed me with this business. I've been gifted the privilege of changing women's lives through the power of clothing, making a real difference, and having a total ball while doing it. Now living a life I could have never dreamed or imagined, I'm so thankful that God had bigger, much better plans for me than I had for myself and all the glory goes to him.
Today, far from Austin's hill country, I own a cute condo that I absolutely adore in Houston's medical center. Though I frequently visit my Dad's ranch in Georgetown, Texas, to get my country and animal kick, I have no plans of moving from Houston. Instead, the goal and vision is to expand my businesses' reach by adding a team of stylist's that will aid me to impact and give self-confidence to even more women both in Houston and virtually worldwide!