Today, we welcome Risa Kostis. Risa is a stylist with RiStyle and during this episode, she gives us great styling tips, what life is like in the fashion industry, and how she helps others pack for trips. Risa gives great advice on building relationships, being confident in your own skin, and how she is a wardrobe motivator.
Risa’s love for fashion started when she was very young. Her mother is an amazing seamstress and would make her clothing from when she was born. Risa would love to walk downstairs in her childhood home and watch her mom sow different clothing. She always had her own personal line of clothing that no one else had because of her mother.
Risa started in the beauty industry when she was nineteen. She was in a major car accident right after she graduated high school and it left her with a facial scar on her right cheek. Risa has had four reconstructive surgeries as well as laser and scar resurfacing. She was about to go off to college to pursue a degree in vocals and cheerleading. At the University of Maine, she realized she was not happy and decided school was not the place for her.
She decided that she wanted to do something that was going to help people and found out that the path for her was going to be cosmetology school. Secretly, she wanted to know how to apply makeup and how to hide her scar better. So, Risa moved to Boston and attended cosmetology school. She ended up getting a job at a hairdresser shop on Newbury street. She knew she had to make up for dropping out of school and learn a skill that would make her successful.
Risa found her niche with styling hair and applying makeup rather than cutting or dying client’s hair. She would always practice on her friends and one day, a friend asked her to do her hair and makeup for their wedding. Risa was a little hesitant but agreed. From there on, she knew she loved servicing people and admired being apart of the finished look.
Risa’s friend said she was moving to San Francisco and said she had no choice but to come with. Four girls in total set out on a road trip to San Fran. They had no place to live yet and went apartment searching right away. They found a flat but it was not available for another month. So, they all decided to road trip down the coast of California. Risa had no degree and her cosmetology license was not valid in California. Eventually, she received a job at a brand new day spa working the front desk. It was beneficial because she received free facials and treatments for her scar on her face.
Risa continued working for brides and doing hair and makeup for wedding. Her boss at the spa allowed her to network to different clients because they did not offer those services at the spa. Risa was able to have a side business and have her own “hussle” as she called it. She did about twelve brides until she realized how stressful the wedding day is.
Risa ended up meeting a fashion designer and would shop at a boutique where she would dress other customers. They decided to hire her on the weekends where she would make commission styling clients. After that, management decided to take her on a buying trip as a buyer. Still working at the spa, she met a woman who had gorgeous handbags all the time. It turns out she was a handbag designer. Risa knew this was her in into the fashion world and offered to do her hair and makeup for all of her event coming up.
As time went on, Risa was getting comfortable with styling people, picking out clothes, doing hair and makeup, understanding face products, and knew that it was probably time to move to Los Angeles and pursue becoming a stylist.
One day, she was doing a woman’s headshot and explained how she was thinking about moving. She stopped in her chair and said that she cannot move. She explained that she already talked to her business partner and they wanted to hire her on full time with salary and benefits. This job was a dream job that she should of had a degree for and would be working with major brands such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales.
This owner bought out her partner and really was the only one left in the company when Risa was hired on. It was them two plus some investors. The owner let Risa pick her title and started to work traveling all over the world. She learned about design, production, and hardware in six different time zones. Unfortunately, the company eventually folded and she knew she needed to make a move and use her connections she made all around the world.
Risa contacted some of her networking contacts she made and said she needed to find a job. She interviewed for multiple fashion jobs and ended up beating out around 60 people for an inhouse PR job in New York City. Risa worked this job for a year and a half.
She knew the PR job was not her dream and had two sisters begging for her to move closer, one in Phoenix. Risa thought it was time to finally finish a degree and decided to go to Arizona State University. She has currently been in Arizona for around nine years and it has been the longest time she has stayed in one city.
Risa offers private client styling who are looking to build a long-term relationship with her, closet cleanouts, outfit planning, wardrobe planning, and packing. Currently, she sees a lot of her clients from 5 to 30 hours a month. The other half of her business is bridal styling. Risa offers a package called “Bride’s best friend” where she offers services on the day of including bridal concierge, lady in waiting, and a stylist on hand. She is there to help with any fashion or style emergencies the day of as well.
It is extremely important to make sure that the bride feels like a celebrity and shines on her special day. She serves as a relief to vendors who get pulled into tasks that are not their job as well as coaching the bride through all of the beauty tricks she needs to survive the whole day. She also picks out the wardrobe for the whole bridal party from the start of the engagement to the actual wedding day. Risa offers two different times she can be there during the wedding day so the bride feels like she is being taken care of and does not have to worry about anything.