I’ve always been interested in fashion and beauty from a very young age.
I remember staring longingly at the kids’ make-up in our local toy shop hoping one day I’d be allowed to wear it.
I rebelled against the very sensible (and now ironically very fashionable) Russell & Bromley shoes my mum made me wear by changing into trainers on the way to school.
In the 90s, I was the first at school to get a shell suit (I didn’t say I always got it right!). In sixth form when I no longer had to wear a school uniform, what to wear became one of my key pastimes. I once stole my dad’s bright red Pringle golf jumper and paired it with a tartan mini-skirt and platform shoes.
But fashion was not an industry I ever thought could be a career for me. I followed the more academic route.
After A levels I got a job in payroll, moving into the Human Resources (HR) field where I was supported to do my professional qualifications.
A postgraduate diploma, Masters degree and 16 years in an HR career later – I realised it was time for a chan
A new direction
My turning point came when, in my last role as head of organisational development, I met a few influential and supportive people.
The company I worked for was massively into developing their teams in all aspects – not just their own technical areas.
They brought in a motivational speaker and coach called Michael Heppell (check out his books) who encouraged us to look at our goals and think about the bigger picture. What did we want to achieve and become? The seeds of an idea started to form.
My lightbulb moment
I then organised a programme to support people who wanted to progress in the company. I even got an image consultant to deliver a workshop all about image and personal branding.
Her name was Mandy Lehto. I credit her with my lightbulb moment when I realised I no longer wanted to be in HR. I wanted to become a stylist.
Mandy did an excellent presentation that day. She was bright, energetic, intelligent, inspiring and supportive.
She had a PhD (Dr Lehto no less) and she had moved from a career in city banking and finance to set up her image consultancy business.
We chatted after our session, and she gave me some great advice and encouragement.
Just a few days later, I handed in my notice and started on my journey to help give people confidence through what they wear and how they present themselves.
Becoming a personal stylist
I did my colour and style training (and later a corporate image consultancy course) with Colour Me Beautiful – the longest established and best-known image consultancy in the UK.
At the same time, I did some styling training with a London-based consultancy. I completed a personal performance coaching diploma with the Coaching Academy, and in April 2013 I launched my own business as a personal stylist and coach.
A passion for helping people
I absolutely love what I do – inspiring, encouraging and empowering women (and men) to present themselves in the best way for them, and finding their own sense of style and confidence.
My background, along with my coaching skills, is my unique differentiator. I can really work with people on their mindset as well as the physical aspects of fashion and style.
I have worked with so many lovely people, seeing them come out of their shells, becoming braver with what they wear, and starting to putting themselves out there and growing in confidence.
While running your own business has its challenges, it really is a rewarding career. I’m glad I realised (with the help of some inspiring people) that it is possible to change direction in your work life and try something new.
Find out more about Vicky’s personal stylist and coaching business at: www.vickybooker.com
Mandy Lehto is great to follow on Instagram for motivational messages.
Picture: Nicki Feltham Photography
Read more: How I got a job as a fashion illustrator