Journey To Rooted Confidence With Jess | InterviewSep 12, 2023
In this Confidence Shift Conversation, I am introducing you to my client, Jess H. of Calgary, Alberta, who found me looking for color analysis on Google just like Monique did! I'm proud to include her as a woman in my Hue And Style mentorship universe and a special EmpowHer Program graduate who will embark on her career and life with a strong image-confidence foundation starting in her 20s. Part of being invited as an EmpowHer Program participant means she must articulate who she wants to serve with confidence and her purpose. Jess impressed me from her first call session with me as a woman; strong is about her intentions, and urgent to align her inner and outer confidence to lead, inspire and mentor. I'm so proud of her focus - it's the kind that inspires all - even mid-life ladies!
I can't wait for you to meet her. Let us know your favorite part of her story in the comments below!
Let's Meet Jess!
MCG: What do you do to serve others with your business, future plans, and passion?
Serving is something I have done since childhood, joining my parents to sing at nursing homes or doing a highway cleanup. It taught me that you don't need a title or degree to help others (which was very comforting through my extended time in post-secondary). Entering my last year of an education degree, I am currently working at a historical museum interpreting Chinese Canadian history, tutoring new Canadians in the community, and volunteering at a Korean church. My passion is for people, and I am serving people with my future plans; I don't have to wait for time to pass for my plans to influence others. Although I do think my capability will expand after graduation, I utilize my vision for the future to focus on how I serve now.
The Beginning Of A Different Kind of Style Journey
MCG: Often, people don't fully believe that your current mindset shows up in how you present yourself and get dressed every day. Before H&S, what were you feeling in and about yourself that was affecting your confidence every day?
I came to Hue and Style because I was struggling to love myself. Perhaps it was just the word "love" that was confusing for me, but as I volunteered with junior high school-aged girls who were having tough times with body image and self-love, it clicked that I couldn't continue feeling ambiguous about myself. I want students to trust and come to me for anything important to them, and authenticity is HUGE to me. The idea of giving students fake or googled or disingenuous advice made me shudder. For the sake of my students and families, and for myself, I would need to figure out how to be confident and comfortable in my own shoes. My confidence depended on other people's words or affirmation, and I wanted to change that.
MCG: Where was this keeping you from expressing yourself or achieving new success - in your work, business, career or relationships?
This lack of confidence and want for external affirmation led to confusing days deciding what to wear and what version of myself I wanted to present to people; what clothes were the people I was about to meet expecting? How peppy or professional did they expect me to be? There was no consistency in my style other than a general modest feel.
MCG: How did your dressing - style, polish and presence - reflect this mindset and keep you from showing up?
Many of the confidence issues began with eczema, asthma, and allergies that would present themselves in hives, dry skin, and other visible symptoms on my body. To keep people's eyes away from these flare-ups I would cover my body as much as possible, and didn't let truly vulnerable Jessica show up: If it was with witty banter, a good joke, or an intent listener, I just didn't want people to be bored enough to have their gaze reach my skin. I did not think about the colours or cut of my clothing, and I showed up with hiding in mind, rarely touching brighter colours. My closet was made up of majorly sale items that only looked cute at the store.
MCG: What mainstream, generic DIY tips and tricks did you try to improve but could never get to work for you as an individual?
Growing up on "What Not to Wear," I channeled my inner Stacy and Clinton and only bought things that I loved at the store – since if I didn't love it there I would likely not like it at home. It was great for a couple of items that I wore once or twice, but I found nothing flowed as full outfits. To be frank, my standard of "love" was really low because it was so difficult to find clothing in my size.
MCG: What turning point made it urgent for you to commit and fix these feelings and your image-confidence once and for all?
It was the big realization that I could not authentically educate junior high girls while lying to myself about confidence and self-love. If not for me, but for the future women and girls in my life, I wanted to finally be able to confidently present myself.
Dressing In New Confidence
MCG: What caught your attention first about Hue and Style®?
The colour psychology! I thought that even if my weight or skin condition fluctuated, I would finally have somewhere concrete to start when I got dressed: Many of my friends are Korean and the idea of a personal colour was a trend for a while too. I also loved that Michele with her H&S is in Alberta.
MCG: What was the first change you noticed? When did you experience it?
The feeling of certainty about where I'm going happened, surprisingly, before we even got our colour profiles haha! It was when we had processed our "So what factors" [personal purpose & mission statement]. Knowing "my why" so concretely gave me the motivation to keep going forward in the image & style process even when I felt uncomfortable or vulnerable. I wanted to get my outside as polished as my inside was becoming.
MCG: What was the biggest dressing myth you happily released after joining and learning Hue and Style®?
That black is professional. I'm not sure who came up with that, but maybe the producers of "orange is the new black" thought it was messed up too. (I'm joking, I've never actually seen the show haha, but I'd hope the writer's opinion on black was as clear as the title). Black is not a colour!
MCG: Why did that change what you thought about yourself?
The visuals that so many offices and even schools give to black blazers and slacks and skirts lends the impression that black will make you feel more professional and ready for society. Realizing that being an adult does not equal automatically wearing black, and that it's possible that for many people Black doesn't suit their colouring - myself included - was so freeing! I had the thought early on: "If that simple yet common 'Black' fashion aspect is wrong, how much more about style have I been misunderstanding?" I had forced myself to wear black out necessity, even though I really disliked how dry skin appeared with it, so giving black the permission to leave my closet was great.
MCG: I share that H&S Women are 10x more visible and memorable to the world and those we help; how fast did you notice the outside world start noticing and responding differently to you?
It was while we were still actively doing the course together! Perhaps 3-4 weeks after starting.
MCG: So many women share that they don't want to learn all the "confidence stuff" about themselves before they learn how to dress - they want new clothes or a new style to update their look for the season. What are they missing in this kind of thinking?
A new style won't bring you any long term satisfaction. We need to know our bodies, colouring, and values. Unchanging things!
Trends change, and so do we, but at a much slower pace.
What is outside, whether consciously or not, reflects what is going on inside. Anyone can buy a new outfit and then store it in the back of their closet. It takes intention to connect what we believe with what we look like.
MCG: Why was it more valuable for you to learn about self-acceptance, self-love, and self-expression, along with learning to present yourself and crafting a complete personal brand?
We can use the advice of friends, family, and the internet if we want to change our packaging. But any consumer knows that if a product has an issue the packing issue is usually an addition, not a solo problem. We've all seen Christmas gifts that use bigger and flashier boxes to hold gifts that are lackluster in comparison to the packaging. I didn't want to be compensating. I wanted to change things from the inside out. Try as I might, middle school kids are ruthless and they see through fake things. My teaching style is directly connected to everyday me, and it was so valuable to be able to wholeheartedly look at myself and accept me as someone pretty, and worthy of love.
MCG: What was your favorite Hue and Style® skill to learn and now to use?
Utilizing my palette and understanding high/low contrast patterns (thank you, "squint rule"!) It was also awesome to see how a lot of memorable photos/moments from the pre-H&S were where I was wearing colours in my palette.
MCG: How did they snowball into how you dress and ALL of your self-care (wellness goals, assertiveness, believing in yourself, asking for what you want)?
Being rightfully picky about what colours and fits I wore made it so I was conscious of how I was framing my body. Interestingly, making clusters of clothing for not only different occasions but also body weights made me feel so much more comfortable with the idea of my body changing. As someone losing weight for health reasons my closet has always had an eclectic mix of sizes and styles from different times in the past ~5 years. I finally felt the freedom to get rid of some of my older clothing, especially the things out of my palette, because it "clicked" that clothing is constantly evolving and changing. I don't need to change my body for the clothes – instead, I can change the clothes to fit my body image. And now I know precisely how to do this!
The Power To Show Up Again When Life Changes
MCG: We live in different times, with the idea of dressing taking on a pandemic-casual tone with more people thinking it's fine to wear sweats and yoga pants to work from home. What do you think about this idea?
We operate so unconsciously throughout the day. A lot of decisions we make come out of habits or out of split-second observations. Just as we dress for ourselves before we dress for others, we are dressing for ourselves even if no one else sees! As women, I think a lot of the most important, crucial tasks we complete are done independently of others. (Personally, a lot of the brainstorming and organizing is done in collaboration but the meat of projects is done on my own, implementing ideas into products. If most of our work is done by ourselves, it is especially in those moments that we need to be intentional about our mindset). For our emotional health, it's also key to separate work from home and have a clear boundary, and how we dress is a practical and effective way to draw the line between my mental environment even if the physical environment is the same.
MCG: Why is mastering one's image-confidence more important now more than ever?
There are so many outside influences in the world, and they will never, ever have access to all of the thoughts, processes, and intentions in your mind. We need to master our own image-confidence so that we have the largest effect on what we look like inside and out. It's unfair and a disservice to ourselves to let people who have a tiny percentage of knowledge about us dictate what we look or feel like. (To be fair, I think more than ever, people are reaching further than they thought possible… someone's social media post they uploaded as a personal memory can feel like a critique of us without them ever being the wiser).
Permanently Evolving Success Through Mentorship
MCG: Since becoming a Hue and Style® Woman, what are some of your biggest wins now that your image-confidence is a superpower?
I have so many wins! With a concrete starting point and ending point, all tied together with my personal brand and purpose statement, in the midst of a season of transition, I feel confident about myself. It's almost supernatural because it did not feel like this in other seasons of my life. I'm really liking my new normal. Here are a few specific wins:
- Applying to write the TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) and getting tangible proof of my language skills after almost ten years of self-study, scoring a neat 193/200.
- Stepping up to volunteer in a local Korean community as a non-Korean.
- Being confident in my 1910s wear even after my shift at a living history museum is done… even going to a tour of a gym in my petticoat, skirt, and blouse haha! (And knowing what to request from the costuming team regarding colours of pieces).
- Taking more photos of myself (prior to H&S I rarely felt comfortable taking pictures, which is why it was hard to find a recent "before" photo)
- No longer walking directly to the sale section of clothing stores but doing research online first and then intentionally looking for pieces I really need.
- Deciding to audition for a local Christmas musical production, a dream that I let sit on the shelf since high school. Both middle school Jessica and current Jessica are very proud of me for being willing to try, whether I pass or not!
- Establishing a solid skincare routine with makeup, an absolute first for me! Eczema and allergies were my excuse for over twenty years but now my skin feels reliable enough to handle it; using H&S recommendations, not just dermatologist 😊
MCG: I've been mentoring women for over 20 years, and I say this - no one changes permanently without being surrounded by women changing in the same way. Why did you choose a mentorship relationship and program instead of a typical style course or program?
I needed accountability that would not make me feel like a child or like a project. Being here with Michele made me feel, more than anything, like a valued person. Mentors last forever, while teachers are usually there for a season.
MCG: How valuable was being surrounded by women changing the same way growing together inside the H&S Sisterhood?
It was invaluable to be surrounded by women on the same journey as me. Being from such different places geographically and also in life (I know I'm on the younger side of the spectrum haha) but with so many overlaps in challenges, wins, and questions really affirmed me. Women all over the world also have these vulnerabilities. Resourcefulness is key to progress, and our peers are the best resource out there. It's like we got to share "cheat sheets!" The structure of the program made it clear that the growth process really has no end, and that both humbles and encourages me.
Continued Growth To Work & Live With Contentment
You are a true H&S WOMEN. A FEARLESS, MAGNETIC, LEADER, READY to serve and a WALKING COMMERCIAL for who you are and what you do!
MCG: Tell us why your H&S experience was Journey to Rooted Confidence.
I chose "rooted" because this is confidence that grows deeper and deeper over time, especially as I intentionally water it. Even hard things eventually turn into fertilizer that contributes to healthy confidence. The deeper your roots are, the less important it becomes to compare yourself with other plants whose depths you can't even grasp. I love this metaphor and hope to continue this journey with a lot of inner reflection, understanding that the biggest part of growth will be unseen to others but in different seasons, very visible in how I "flower" and showcase myself. My SWF - personal mission and purpose statement - targets a few different audiences, and I will always be partial to younger students. I want to be rooted enough that when I get teenage questions and worries, I can answer them and give advice wholeheartedly.
MCG: Women have trouble giving value and permission to themselves to invest in a transformational personal growth process. What advice would you give to a woman who thinks it's not the right time to pay attention to her image + confidence or doesn't feel she's worth the time, energy or finances it takes to make a change?
This was my first time investing in myself in such a large way outside of academics. I do not regret it at all, although it was scary at the moment as a student to commit to a personal growth process. However, I know that if I had waited even one year longer to know myself the way I do now, I would have been devastated. I'm so thankful that I can enter my last year of post-secondary education in this headspace.
If you want to change, now is the time!
I found that as soon as I committed and prayed about the finances, different pieces fell into place logistically. We're all busy people but taking time for what matters happens when we tell ourselves "________________ [my self-image and confidence] is not my priority" instead of the usual "I don't have time for ____________ [my self-image and confidence]". We deserve, and the people we love deserve, to see the version of ourselves that honors ourselves the most. I'm Christian, so when we're told to love others as we love ourselves, we need to recognize that loving ourselves comes first. We'll never be able to give others love that we haven't received.
How we imagine ourselves and stand in confidence is a direct result of how much we love ourselves.
If Jess's story sparked hope to trust more in yourself so you can show up in your most powerful way - permanently, click here to discover more about my Hue and Style® mentorship.
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