Rachel Levin knows style. Williamsburg resident and personal shopper, her mission is to help people look good and feel good. Style is synonymous with identity and expression, I wanted to know how a female entrepreneur looks at these elements with clothes and accessories. In other words, what words of wisdom can an ambitious lady offer another?
I got the scoop on shopping for yourself (and others), how to develop your style, and what pieces everyone should have in his/her closet.
GP: What inspired your to start your own business? What were you doing before?Rachel: Starting my own business was always my dream. I started out as a sales associates at Saks Fifth Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio when I was in college working on my B.S. in Fashion Merchandising and my MBA. I had wonderful relationships with my clients – some of whom I am still friends with today. When I graduated, I wanted to have the experience of running businesses for other companies. Over the past 10 years I have had the opportunity to be the Director of multiple categories of business for the Saks Fifth Avenue Flagship, and the Store Manager of the Intermix Fifth Avenue Flagship. I have met and learned about running businesses from talented people, and coached and developed top sales associates and managers. As a result I now have a great network in New York and this year I was able to realize my dream of starting my own personal shopping company.
GP: What is it like running your own business? What are some the best things about being a personal shopper? Any stresses?
Rachel: The best thing about being a personal shopper are my clients – I love my clients! It is a special thing to have someone trust you with their closet and to share important moments in their personal and professional lives. It is also such a pleasure to work with former colleagues, now friends, and their associates at department stores and boutiques throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Every day is different and I enjoy having the flexibility of being able to work with each client where-ever will best help them accomplish their goals and refine their personal style. I would say so far the biggest stress is missing my IT guys but my husband has been great when I need an assist.
GP: Your personal philosophy states: “What gives you joy, what makes you feel beautiful, what makes you feel confident.” What are some things that make you feel beautiful and confident?
Rachel: Things that make me feel beautiful – dainty, vintage jewelry, printed fit and flare sundresses, lace in all colors, shapes, and sizes, a great hairstyle and fresh manicure, and carrying fresh cut flowers. Things that make me feel confident – sharply tailored dress or my favorite Stella pants, statement necklace or sunglasses, a great shopper tote, pairing all black with a red lip, and finishing any look with a great jacket.
GP: What are some key items everyone should have in her closet?
Rachel: Every woman needs – leather jacket, sharply tailored black dress, statement jacket, booties, great denim, and jewelry that tells a story. Every man needs – a great dress coat, sharply tailored suit and button downs, favorite worn in tees, great denim, and lace up oxfords or boots.
GP: I’m always intrigued by personal styling and evolving it. How would you encourage someone to develop her own personal style?
Rachel: The best thing about personal style is that everyone has it and its always evolving as your life changes – new job, new relationship, new baby. I always want to inspire my clients, so my best advice would be to look for what inspires you, or what you aspire to. There are so many sources – street style blogs, magazines, your friends – it can be almost overwhelming. Keep it simple and pick one or two that you love. And always remember to choose things that work back to what is already in your closet – its a constant process of adding and subtracting but the goal is to always be able to wear and enjoy your new pieces mixed with favorites you already own.
GP: Describe your ideal day in Brooklyn. What would you do? Where would you go?Rachel: There are so many great things to do in Brooklyn – parks, museums, shopping, visiting friends, and going to great restaurants. But I have to say – my favorite days are spent with my husband and my dog in our neighborhood in Williamsburg. We wake up, have a lazy morning coffee from Gimme, run errands which might include picking up flowers from Sprout, and picking up odds and ends for the house from Moon River Chattel, A&G, and Whisk. Our dog loves errands, and knows all the shops where the owners have treats for him. For a mid-day break we love a good neighborhood lunch out — Saltie is a favorite treat, before we head out again to procure supplies for dinner. For some of our specialty food and cocktail favorites, you can find us in Margot, Bedford Cheese, Nini’s Wine Shop, and the Meathook. Its great to bump into friends in the neighborhood, out running errands or taking their kids to the park. My husband is an accomplished home cook, so to compliment his skills I learned how to make cocktails, and we love to entertain in the evenings.
For more of Rachel’s work visit Rachel Levin Style.