Quarantine Style: Digital Accessory ‘Makeovers’ with Designer Monique LeshmanRachel Saltzman
It is the merry month of May, but everyone is stuck at home thanks to the Novel Coronavirus. For small businesses that rely on direct sales to customers, it has been difficult to bring in a steady paycheck even with the increased reliance on internet retail. Monique Leshman, founder and owner of her self-titled jewelry and accessory business, is trying to bridge the physical gap between her and customers by focusing on her innovative digital styling sessions.
You might be wondering how a styling session can work when everyone must stay at least six feet apart but Leshman had this figured out long before COVID-19. Her ‘Get Styled Live’ sessions set her apart from other designers who rely on traditional methods for styling and selling to clients. Each thirty-minute session is a chance for Leshman to get to know your unique style and personality so she can select customized pieces just for you. These sessions, carried out digitally through Zoom or Skype, maintain social distancing requirements without sacrificing Leshman’s career as a stylist.
Following on the heels of Mother’s Day, Leshman reached out to one lucky mom for a free styling session, as part of her means of giving back to essential workers during these unprecedented times. Monique’s featured guest for this complimentary styling session is Susan Muniz of Middlesex, New Jersey. On the verge of switching from one position to another, Muniz was furloughed in March from her as a teacher at a facility for medically fragile and severely disabled students and adults. She had been coming in to work as usual when the virus first landed but was forced to stay home to not compromise her own health. Muniz’s struggle as a front-line worker resonated with Leshman, who understands from her mother’s multiple bouts with cancer, how crucial it is for health and safety regulations to be maintained.
In all her videos with clients, Leshman focuses on getting to know her customer’s style and personality though questionnaires. The client’s responses, written down in a handy notepad, will determine what pieces Leshman will assemble for them. With all patrons, including Muniz, the questions are straightforward and simple to uncomplicate descriptions and to make styling a breeze. Some typical questions Leshman asks include, “What words would you use to describe your own style?”, “Who inspires you and why?”, and “If you could raid anyone’s jewelry box, whose would it be?”
In this first part of her Style Live session, Muniz describes her style to Leshman as all about standing out and rocking big statement pieces against a simpler wardrobe. “I generally do solids, so my pieces show,” she says, “but I’m not afraid to go with monochrome or total mixed color.” A statement after her own fashionable heart, Leshman immediately identifies with Muniz and has a great foundation to base Muniz’s custom pieces on. It does not end with that, however, as Leshman asks even more specific questions to really target Muniz’s unique style.
“Who inspires you and why?” Leshman asks. Muniz responds, “Some of my favorite designers are Betsey Johnson…I love her willingness to step outside the box.” She pauses to think, then continues, “I was fascinated with Cher, and I guess Lady Gaga would be my most current [inspiration]. People who are not afraid to wear something that will set them apart.”
Of course Muniz isn’t referring to the more ‘out-there’ designs like Cher’s Native American headdress from her Half Breed music video, or Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress from the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. She pinpoints her style closer to Sarah Jessica Parker’s famous character from Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw. Hearing this, Leshman is overjoyed to have found a kindred style spirit. “Her style is immaculate,” Leshman says, “always has, and always will be. She is definitely a style icon.”
From there Muniz talks about her love for antiquing. This peaks Leshman’s interest, as it adds another element to what kind of pieces she will select for Muniz. She feels like she has everything she needs to create Muniz’s custom Mother’s Day jewelry package. But this is not the end of Muniz’s Style Live session, as a follow-up video is scheduled to show off Leshman’s picks and how well they reflect her new customer’s unique style. Leshman hopes to continue working with Muniz, and to attract future clients despite social distancing restrictions. Leshman’s digital styling sessions are ahead of the curve, and her methods will likely be mimicked by other fashion-related businesses. Her creative concepts for unique fashion have impacted the fashion market before, but who knows what she will create next.