Dress for success
Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have famously gotten away with having a single signature look—a black turtleneck and blue jeans for the late Apple founder and CEO, and a grey tee for the Facebook chief executive.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s a billionaire with the luxury to set his or her own rules. Most have to deal with the stark reality that they have to dress for success.
No matter what people say, first impressions do last, and you only have one chance to leave a good one.
However, there has decidedly been a shift to a more casual tone in dressing in corporations and even among the ranks of the professionals, much to the dismay of business owners and chief executives who want their people—especially those who deal directly with clients and potential customers—to sport a more dapper and clean look.
Perhaps employees and professionals do want to update their wardrobe to better convey the message that they are indeed people to be trusted and taken seriously, but they don’t know how or just don’t have the time or the energy to scour the malls for the right clothes to suit their particular needs.
This is where Stylist in Pocket (SiP) can come in.
A brainchild of Sheree Roxas-Chua Gotuaco, SiP was born out of the desire to provide a solution to these concerns with how to dress up properly, a concern that was first pointed out to her by her friends who asked for help in choosing the right clothes.
Gotuaco is a natural go-to for her friends considering that she has been in retail for decades, being the chief executive behind retail brands Freeway, Solo and Ensembles. As she saw an opportunity in solving the pain points of customers just like her friends, it was a logical step to expand her operations from retail to include personal styling services and fashion consultancy to individuals as well as corporations through SiP.
It took about a year of testing and refining the concept before SiP, the country’s first online platform for style advice, went live in August 2016 and since then its client base has grown to some 3,000 and growing, says Gotuaco.
Initially, she thought her natural clients would be corporate executives from middle managers to chief executives, but as it turned out, the service was likewise sought by self-employed professionals such as engineers, doctors, and sales and marketing officials, the majority of whom are around 35 years old.
“They really don’t have time to shop and they need to look good for their work. They felt they needed help to be presentable,” said Gotuaco, “For these people, shopping has taken a lower priority perhaps because they are also starting a family and building on their career. What time they have left they would rather spend with their kids than shopping.”
To get started on the online service of SiP, all they need to do is visit the website—www.stylistinpocket.com—and answer a short questionnaire. After that, a proposed wardrobe selection will be presented, based on their listed budget and preferences. Clothes are sourced from partner brands, not just those from Gotuaco’s own operations.
The clients can choose to either purchase through the website or have a stylist visit them in their home or office, with the personal stylist bringing a whole selection of clothes and even accessories. There is no obligation to buy, stressed Gotuaco, but they do almost always do.
SiP currently works with more than 30 brands, a number from the SSI Group and also from the Robinsons group. It helped that Gotuaco was herself in retail thus knew whom to talk to for possible partnerships.
The home visit option is currently limited to Metro Manila but there are plans to expand eventually, with an army of stylists ready to provide the personalized service. The styling service is free and the price of the clothes is the same as in the stores.
“For our partner brands, we provide a cost efficient way for them to access a new market, those who want the convenience of shopping in their own home and also getting the services of their own stylist,” she said.
Not that it was easy to get these partner brands to join when she first presented the concept she firmly believed in. Because it had not been done before, it was understandably difficult for them to quickly see the value of the service. But not anymore.
“Right now I think we are enjoying a first mover advantage. And it will be quite hard to immediately duplicate because it is not easy to do, to create a platform—it took us about a year of beta testing before we launched the site—and to train the people to provide this new kind of service,” she said. “It is a very new field and there is a lot of learning involved.”
And indeed one of the learnings is that not only individuals need the style services but corporations, too, thus the expansion of SiP services to include etiquette as well as fashion training for corporate employees.
The service started about three months ago and among the first to tap SiP were multinationals and then those in the banking and finance sector. It happened by word of mouth, starting with a satisfied individual client who referred the SiP service to the company she was with.
“We are starting to find out how to help more companies, who come to us with their pain points, about how to help their teams represent the companies better, especially those who face clients,” Gotuaco said.
Some companies have even gone so far as to ask SiP to design their corporate uniforms so that the employees will be comfortable and at the same time happy about wearing them even outside the company premises.
“They are sick and tired of the traditional look so we help them get a uniform that does not look like a uniform. What we do is we either partner with the brands we work with or we get from our own. Whatever they tell us, we will give them options,” said Roxas.
That more companies are tapping SiP services indicates that there is a renewed focus on the need to dress up more appropriately for meeting clients and generally for making a good impression in the workplace.
“What you wear still means something. What we say is that if an opportunity comes, when a client walks in, the people should be ready for it. If you are dressed well, the confidence level is higher and you can represent yourself and your company better, Gotuaco said. “For banks and financial institutions who get deposits, for example, it is very important that they look trustworthy.”
“And when we give lectures to employees, we advise them to dress for the position that they want, not what they are in. They have to be ready to look the part.”
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