Saturday, November 2, 2013

Working with Miss Mustard Seed

Working with Miss Mustard Seed

via MMS

The fact that I'm able to type that I styled Miss Mustard Seed yesterday is incredible to me. I literally had my husband pinch me last night after reading her gracious, energized post last night. Here is the back story on my end: I started reading her blog years ago when I lived in Chicago. Instead of reading wedding-specific blogs, I kept coming back to hers. Her color choices, the textures of her furniture, and her wisdom to women starting businesses kept me coming back for more. She was the one who inspired me to make so many elements of our wedding decor and to start decorating our condo in Chicago. I skimmed through her articles on blogging and starting a business because I didn't think they applied to me.

When we moved to Northern Virginia, I had no concept of geography. Then, one day, I read that Miss Mustard Seed would be going to the Lucketts Fair, which she listed as being in Northern Virginia. WHAT?! I stopped dead in my tracks. I could see her furniture somewhere in real life?! At this point, I didn't even imagine ever meeting her. Sadly, I was a day late. The fair was already over.

Undeterred, I decided that we would be visiting this magical land of Lucketts. And we did-we made the hour drive there a few weeks later, and I was amazed to see that Miss Mustard Seed had a new room there-full of her furniture, German glass glittered objects, tags, etc. I couldn't believe my good luck, and I stood in her space trying to soak up as much of her creativity as I could. Over the past two years, I met her at a subsequent fair and even attended a workshop she held in Pennsylvania.

Then, this summer, something clicked. I love my job, but I wanted an outlet for my creativity. I've always taken friends and family shopping, and I'd "done" a few friends' closets by that point. What if that could become...something? Miss Mustard Seed says to just start-that you don't need a ton of money (she didn't have it when she started!). You just need passion. So I took a leap of faith and just started-I created this blog, I put it out there, and I started working with people I didn't know. That's why this blog is called StartCloseIn. It's as much about my taking the first step as it is about you.

Then, she posted about her hard work in losing weight and getting healthier, and she mentioned something about not liking to shop. I stopped dead. Finally, after all that she had done for me without even knowing it, there was something I could help her with. I said a small prayer over my laptop and sent an email.

This is the result of that second leap of faith:

That's my business card. On her blog. Above the article that she wrote about our nearly four hours together. As I told my husband last night: I TIED MISS MUSTARD SEED'S SHOES TODAY! I know I sound like a creeper by this point, but those of you who admire her as much as I do will understand: this was huge for me.

She posted some incredible photographs of our time together, and I'm still better at making outfits than I am at snapping pictures, but here are some of the images that I did capture. You can also visit the Pinterest board I'll be adding to with inspiration for our personal shopping trip here.

 Before & After Closet Shots
Like most of us, she still had some clothes that don't fit her quite right, and we got the rest of those out of there. Then, after tossing clothes all around her room and making outfit after outfit using what she already owns, I hung outfits together (scarves included) to make them easy for her to grab and wear.

She has this great striped blazer that adds a splash of creativity to any look, even a basic black top. 
I convinced her to layer up these necklaces, and I love the result! 

All of my clients will be laughing and nodding their heads at this shot. 
There is always a point during  a personal styling session where your bedroom will look like this! Don't worry, it goes back inside the closet at the end!

While she changed into the next outfits in the bathroom, I laid out ideas for her wherever I could.

A jubilant selfie snapped before my drive home. 

Here is some of what she said about working with me
"When I first thought about working with a stylist, I was a little resistant to it, because it sounded so fancy and uppity.  But, I had the opportunity, so I went for it.  Ella’s approach was so down-to-earth, though.  She’s a big fan of TJ Maxx and Target and Kohl’s.  She wanted to work with everything I had before even mentioning buying something new.  In fact, her entire philosophy is about working with EXTRA-ordinary women…not celebrities and big wigs.  Just regular women who need a little (or a lot of help.)"

I'm incredibly honored to be working with Marian, and as a result I have decided to reduce what I had in mind for my initial price points. I want all of the readers who have been inspired by Miss Mustard Seed (her creativity, her help to other women, her weight loss...) to be able to work with me if you want. In person services are available in driving distance from Washington, DC, including NYC, PA, and NC.

For virtual sessions (outside of driving distance from Washington, DC), all you need is a video camera-either on your phone or your computer. Set it up to face wherever you have your clothes, and I'll walk you through outfits to try on and combinations to consider. It will be fun!

For virtual shopping, once I have a sense of your style and budget, I will turn my full attention to finding things you LOVE and want to wear all the time.

Contact me if you’d like to talk over what kind of fun we might have in your closet-in person or virtually! 

startclosein at


  1. Hi! Here from MMS's site. Looks like you're every bit as talented as she is. Love what you did with her closet and love your website. I'm a new follower!

    1. Hi Arli-welcome! I'm so glad to have you here!

  2. Wow, I saw MMS 's post and she looks amazing and I love the idea of having my closet set up with outfits. You're very talented and sweet. I am a new follower. Thinking hard about your offer!

    1. Thanks for reading, Cecilia! It was such an honor to work with MMS. I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to work together.

  3. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!! Wonderful post on MMS and your blog. I love your blog! I am 58 yrs. Would like to see some ideas for over 50 or women over 50 modeling your ideas. Linda

    1. Hi Artifice, thank you so much for reading! I'd love to feature women over 50! I have some new clients over 50 that I'll be sharing on the website, and I'd love to work with you if you're interested!

  4. I love this service you offer!!!! Love what you did for MMS….bet it was so much fun. Love your approach too…..use what you have first…then buy "normal priced" items if needed! Having "staples" in the closet is key to throwing an outfit together fast. I agree….looking good does not have to cost a fortune it's just about knowing how to put it together. I just read Allison's post on The Golden Sycamore, about how you helped her too….awesome! I wish you great success and I may do a post on your offerings at some point in the near future….if that's ok? Have a great day!!!