Current role Personal Stylist (Business Owner)
Time in current role 6 years
Previous role Retail Manager
Time in previous role 6 years
Recommendation rating  1*

Helen Kharkov launched her own Personal Stylist services while working in retail (fashion), when she discovered a natural success with customers who sought her advice. She grew up in Ukraine, where she worked originally in criminal law then advertising sales, before moving to Australia. Upon arriving here, Helen spent a couple of years learning English while moving up the ladder in her retail job.

What do you do daily?

Generally, I contact my clients and meet up with them at least once a week to source new items and develop their image together. If I’m not with clients, then I might be out anyway, sourcing items for specific briefs or looking for new shops for items to share with them. I also organise photo shoots of client transformations.

What are some of the skills you need for your role?

It can become quite difficult to prioritise various tasks or maintain distinctions between work and everyday life, so time management is important – I learned a technique from my life coach that has enabled me to work in sprints. It’s also important to enjoy being around people, and you’ll need to be approachable and reliable. You might also find yourself working with clients who bring their problems into your sessions, so it’s important to find a balance between empathy and focus to get results.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your role?

Be hungry for knowledge; things change, so you’ll want to keep up a thirst for learning and don’t say ‘no’ to new opportunities. You might work long hours – sometimes up to 16 hours a day, but I love and live this role so accept the challenge and look for ways to improve. You will also have to be resilient, as you can’t take things personally (such as, when clients disagree with you).

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to enter this area of work?

If you have a chance to do this, pursue education and perhaps study overseas for a little while to broaden your horizons. You could also get an internship with people who you consider are successful, and build mentoring relationships to learn from people who you look up to. It’s also important that you learn how to sell, because it’s an important skill to have in this business.

How likely are you to recommend this job to a friend? Scale of ‘1 = Not at all’ to ‘5 = Absolutely!’ .

* If you are passionate about fashion and have seen your own style morph over the years, then it might be for you! But you do need to love working with others to see this change in them. If this is you, then I highly recommend the work.

If you enjoy fashion but are focused on your own style, then it isn’t the right pathway and I would recommend a 1.

What did you study i.e. your level of study, and major if applicable?

I spent 5 years studying law. Then I completed 5 years of online education in Personal Styling, which in Australia would be equivalent to a Certificate IV. I’ve also obtained a Diploma in Business, majoring in Entrepreneurship.

What did you do that perhaps were the most successful initiatives to land your current role?

In the early days, I placed an ad on Facebook, calling out for 5 women who might be interested in the service. They would only need a budget for clothes, and I worked for free in return for testimonials and promotional rights.

I also built connections with make-up artists, photographers, and other professionals who share complementary goals.

Do you need professional registration for your current role?

No, you don’t need professional registration.

Do you know any industry groups relevant to your role that you would recommend?

Personally, I haven’t encountered specific groups for the industry – it may help to reach out to other stylists directly and build your own networks to learn from.

personal-stylist-styling-with-helenHelen is incredibly passionate about creating uplifting experiences for her clients. She offers a variety of packages to suit different requirements and budgets, including one-off services as well as virtual style advice. To find out more, visit Styling with Helen.

Trades and Services: Personal Stylist