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By Lana Suhova

I first met Melissa Murrell at a bloggers event in Basingstoke where she held a mini masterclass on body shapes and how to dress them. The way she interacted with us and taught us how to best dress the apple/pear/hourglass shapes was really educational and interesting – I left that day feeling like I have really learnt something. A year from then, I am catching up with Melissa on what it’s really like to be a stylist for real women and her newly launched Styling Academy.

Melissa has built her styling career with no formal fashion related qualifications, but rather a great eye for style and a desire to be self-reliant in her career which came after a devastating crash in her previous business venture. Whilst living in Australia, she set up her own loungewear company which really took off, and Melissa took her business back to the UK when she moved. The loungewear was a success, and soon enough stockists like ASOS started placing their orders. Melissa outsourced her loungewear to a company overseas, and just as if by some terrible magic – three days before her order was due to arrive at ASOS HQ her supplier went bust and closed down their company. Such devastating events helped Melissa realise that she wanted to be independent in business and make sure that she’s only got to rely on herself – eliminating the possibility of such heartbreak and disappointment.

Melissa has been styling the real life women of Hampshire and Wiltshire for about 10 years, and she has built an incredible reputation for herself. I always thought that potentially being in an area outside of a big city won’t bring you that many bookings – but boy was I wrong. Melissa’s diary is bursting with appointments from regular and new clients with the next available appointments starting in early July. She tells me there is work for a stylist around local areas – you just have to put in the effort and find these people. Some tips and tricks for budding stylists include starting to build your portfolio by offering styling services to your friends and family, who will then spread the good word to their friends and your reputation should hopefully grown like wildfire. Melissa grew her clientele organically without much effort or investment into publicity – she’s a true inspirational case study for women who want to start their own business.

I also found out some exciting news about Melissa’s newly launched Styling Academy – a three day course which teaches anyone how to become a personal stylist. I think it is a common misconception, one that I have always believed and one that has stopped me for years, is that you need formal qualifications. This course is open to anyone no matter what education or background they may have – whether you’re a receptionist at a dentist, or a marketing director looking for a career move, this course is for anyone who thinks they’ve got what it takes to be a personal stylist. The course will include topics on body shapes, capsule wardrobe, wardrobe re-style, personal shopping, and how to run your own business.