Meet Fashion Stylist and Body Positive Influencer Alarna Hope. Based in Sydney, Alarna has spent the past several years in the fashion industry and over the span of her career she's had the opportunity to dress and assist some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.
Finding the initial encouragement from her mother Alarna decided to pursue a career in the fashion industry studying at Tafe and FBI Fashion College, beginning the process of turning her dream into a job.
'I studied hard, took industry specific courses, interned my fingers off (yes, steamers will turn your heat sensitive fingers into fire proof warriors) and when I was so over working at a job I didn't love – I decided to make myself a promise. To wake up everyday doing a job I loved and never stop learning!"
During her time at FBI Fashion College Alarna found a gap in the market; she realised that many women and men are faced with advertisements that promote a body and lifestyle on a daily basis, these advertisements aren't necessarily what the everyday man or woman feels that they want nor need. Alarna felt these individuals just aren't being talked about and their issues not being resolved, so to close this gap, Alarna, began to offer personal services involving shopping and styling aiming to solve the -what to wear' issue and ultimately mending the minds of many who have been told their body doesn't match up to the -perfect' conventions when it comes to style and fashion.
Since establishing herself as a personal stylist, Alarna has privately worked with over 500 clients in Sydney, as well as others in her home region of the Illawarra and in Melbourne. Her commercial work has been published in various magazines both in Australia and internationally.
Due to her personal approach to style and body confidence Alarna has also assisted in television wardrobes, and has consulted for some of Australia's biggest and most influential companies. It's clear since finding her calling in fashion Alarna has lived and breathed her work.
Alarna has since launched a blog titled -That Effortless Bitch' aimed at women who can't afford a personal stylist, but who have real, everyday issues. Her blog provides realistic and genuine information for the women fashion forgot about. Coming later this year Alarna plans to launch her first product, The Busy Bitch Planner. A Planner for women who want a bright, daily planner, with humorous quotes for each day and provides them with style tips.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Alarna Hope: It's certainly not 9-5, which is one of the aspects of my job that I love. First thing in the morning I usually pick up a coffee and either head to a clients home or into the city to put things aside for shopping clients.
I spend majority of my week at the shopping centres, and even though Sydney City is quite a tourist magnet, it feels so homey. I've gotten to know most of the staff in the stores in the city over my time as a stylist, so I pop in to say hello and see what new items have made it into store. We discuss items for particular clients and I let clients know I've either put items aside for them, snap a picture and send it to them, or I purchase it on their behalf. Then after this, I often have an appointment scheduled in, either to shop, talk about personal branding or purge a bursting at the seams wardrobe!
Of an evening, I either go to a launch, PR event or get home and write for That Effortless Bitch. Every morning and evening I return emails and I have a habit of flicking on Netflix while working at night, so I can multitask. I live and breathe my job, so majority of my days revolve around it!
Question: Can you talk us through the gap you found in the market whilst at FBI Fashion College?
Alarna Hope: I remember the day I noticed the gap because that evening I went home and started properly planning my business around it.
Some of the creative classes we took involved using magazines and articles as reference points and at that time, being a Stylist was a far off dream I had. But I knew that if I wanted to do it right and succeed, that I had to pick a group of people that I could cater to and learn as much about them as I could.
The latest trends never really jumped out as something I was fond of. Working on minimum wage and being a student didn't allow the budget for me to be into something one minute and throw it away the next. And my family raised me to work hard and appreciate what I had, so the person I imagined would need my help the most and I wanted to cater to, was someone just like my mother. I looked through about 15 magazines, not one had any information on everyday dressing, for everyday people in their 40's and 50's. What shocked me most was that the women who were most likely to be able to afford the clothing in these magazines, were women my mothers age, who didn't look, talk or dress like the women in these mags!
The women in this age group were literally buying something that would make them feel unworthy and from that moment on, I've been trying to change that.
Question: How is a stylist appointment with you, different?
Alarna Hope: I am a little old school when it comes to styling. After about a year in the business, I really started to develop a pet hate for poor quality fabrics and finishes because when helping new clients do a clean out on their wardrobe, the pile of worn out, poor quality clothes that would build up to donate, was horrendous. There was thousands of dollars of items on every new clients floor, some things weren't lined or evenly hemmed, seams had split, suiting wasn't well put together, it killed me to hear them say -how much money did I waste?'
I don't focus too much on the whole -what body shape are you' thing, nor do I teach colours in the traditional way because I think it makes men and women feel limited. I have my clients focus on their assets and things they love about themselves and we aim to emphasize that, putting a plan in place right from the start of the session.
Majority of my clients are either impulse shoppers or people who hate shopping with a passion, so either way, it's easy to lose focus and purchase things they don't need. If they pickup items that aren't on our list or don't look like the style we're going for, I put them back and I tell them why so they start to get in the habit of shopping smarter. Shopping shouldn't be a -wander around the shops', the best purchases are always planned. So when having a session with me, I like to think about practical, long term style options, versus a quick fix and my clients get so much more out of that and gain much more confidence with that approach.
Question: Can you name drop some of the celebrities you have dressed?
Alarna Hope: I have confidentiality agreements with most, but I have been lucky enough to help dress Miranda Kerr, some of the finalist contestants from The X Factor Australia a few years ago and when I was assisting at a show when I was first starting out, I was lucky enough to dress the Stenmark Twins, I had no idea who they were at the time – I was too busy trying to form coherent sentences because they're both so good looking, and when there's two of them and you're seventeen, it can be very difficult to focus!
Question: What advice do you have for young women who want to become fashion stylists?
Alarna Hope: It's hard work and long hours, but completely worth it. Give yourself a point of difference and don't try to cater to too many markets, pick your strong points and stick to those and you'll be even better and grow faster as a stylist! And learn about fabrics, doing so will pay you back ten fold!
Question: What colours should we be wearing this Spring?
Alarna Hope: Whatever colours make you happy and what ever you don't have too much of in your wardrobe! Many people either have too much of one or two colours, so try to develop a colour scheme in your wardrobe to help fill those gaps. And if you find you've got a lot of electric blue and orange, studies show you're likely to be an impulse shopper – so really try to think about your next purchases.
Question: How would you describe The Effortless Bitch?
Alarna Hope: She's practical, an everyday woman with real life issues and errands to run – she appreciates a bit of humour and doesn't take herself too seriously. Clothing is what makes her feel good, and if she's going to head to the super market in something super over the top, so be it if it makes her feel fabulous!
Question: What's your ultimate Summer item?
Alarna Hope: Sunscreen, there's no colours that work well with burned skin and to have to wear the same neckline until your skin evens out again, because you were burnt wearing a v-neck, is limiting and not very Effortlessly Bitchy!
Question: And, what can we expect from The Busy Bitch Planner?
Alarna Hope: A mood booster on a dull day! My favourite thing about the entire planner is the fact that there are funny daily quotes down the bottom of each page. If your coffee burned your tongue that morning, you missed your bus to work or your child decided to wake you up every hour the night before, those quotes will lift your spirits.
It's also super colourful, has a spacious day to a page layout and has an entire section in the back for shopping tips, packing lists and sizing conversion charts. It's the planner for women with a bit of attitude! Oh, and the gold foil spine and front cover make it easy to find in a dark handbag!
Interview by Brooke Hunter