Ready to be seen? Interview with Majella McMahon, The Stylery Co.
Majella McMahon is a transformational style coach, brand image creator and founder of The Stylery Co. She helps women understand how they can make a powerful impact in the world through their story, their style, their branding, imagery, and be fully seen.
PQ: I have to admit I made a little extra effort with my lipstick and outfit today, Majella. And I'll be honest - in part it was for you. How are you?
TSC: I'm great! It's my pleasure to be here. To know you're dressing up because you're like, "Oh, I'm going to talk to Majella," is honestly a little bit like alternate life reality. I'm thinking "Does she know who I am?" Growing up I had no style. I wasn't always someone who felt stylish and confident and effortlessly able to get dressed myself - I never identified with that. A girl I went to high school with came up to me at our 20-year reunion - she was a little bit drunk – and she said, “No offence Majella, but how the *bleep* did you become a stylist?”
PC: What you do is about so much more than just clothing - you describe your work as a “moth to butterfly transformation.” Can you tell us in a nutshell what your business is all about?
TSC: I would almost call myself a permission granter. I’m the person who shows you what you already know and what you already have inside you, but for whatever reason - lack of time, energy, awareness, lack of basic understanding of clothing or style - has not come out the way that you want it. I help women feel the way they want to feel on the outside by tapping into what's already on the inside.
Most women have a sense of what makes them feel beautiful and they know that it's possible but there's a disconnect. At some point in their life decided that they weren't skinny enough, pretty enough, blonde enough, smart enough, whatever kind ‘not enough’ and it’s stopped them from fully being self-expressed through style. Generally, the way you do one thing is the way you do everything - if you're not fully expressed in your style, I can almost guarantee that you won't be fully expressed in most areas of your life.
If you wear clothing that makes you feel safe and protected on that day, that will affect how you walk into a room and how you engage with people; even the way you breathe and digest because it affects your blood flow. You're not in a state of fight or flight - you're in a state of powerful relaxation. It's the same if you want to feel powerful. If you need to negotiate or you need to have a confrontational conversation, you can dress to adjust your mindset to be able to do that with greater ease.
Often, we think in extremes. It's either you're invisible and you're hiding behind your brand, your job title, being a mum... The other extreme is that you're walking down the street in a fur coat like Beyoncé. There's lots of space between those extremes to find your version of visibility.
PQ: We are wired to want everyone to like us, but often that results in us dimming our own light or at worst - becoming invisible. How can this mindset damage our brand? And how do we get past it?
TSC: It’s the same as when you start any new habit or head in any direction or learn a new skill – it’s always going to be uncomfortable and awkward and feel scary. I think that in that space, a lot of people go, "Well, I don't look like that woman. She's so confident, she's happy to talk to anyone. She'll go to networking night, she's happy to share on social media. I'm not that woman.” But I think that they do themselves a great disservice by not allowing a gentle evolution.
Often, we think of the extremes. It's either you're invisible and you're hiding behind your brand, your job title, being a mum... The other extreme is that you're walking down the street with fur coats on like Beyoncé. There's lots of space in between those two extremes to find your version of visibility.
People often just associate being seen with status or stardom or celebrity or power, but being seen for me is more about freedom and about having choice and about attracting the right opportunities.
I was reading a book about luck and the science of luck and how there's certain characteristics that lucky people possess. One of them is the assumption that they are lucky. They act like they’re lucky. They talk to people as though they're lucky. More people offer them opportunities because they're telling people what they want, who they are and what they can do.
I think the key for women is finding that place where you feel you're able to share who you are in a way that doesn't feel like self-promotion. If I don't know who you are, I can't share opportunities that could be perfect for you. If you mentioned that you love knitting, I might have a friend who goes to a knitting club who loves it and Instantly you have a new community of these women who are also passionate about knitting. That's not trying to sell me anything - it's allowing me to see underneath the surface and to get a sense of what you love, what makes up the parts of your jigsaw puzzle.
Sometime being invisible is dismissed as something that's not really a big deal but I it can have massive mental health ramifications. It can affect your self-esteem, your energy, your ability to connect with others. It has such far-reaching little tentacles.
PQ: Many women struggle with imposter syndrome in their businesses. How do you help women tackle this?
TSC: Imposter syndrome in my opinion in terms styling comes from a lack of belief in your skills to dress yourself. If I said to you, "Can you cook me a meal? you would back yourself enough to say, "Well, I've got one amazing dish." - even if you didn't call yourself a cook. Whereas with style - another basic life skill - we didn't get taught it in the same way because it's not deemed as important as eating. If you don't dress yourself well you won't die. But on some level, you're so soul does wither a little!
Over the last couple of decades, we have been inundated with fashion as a rule book. Now women don't trust their choices.
Women often know that they want to look stylish and effortless, they want to feel beautiful and they know what colours they like, but the practicality of getting from the process of that visual to shopping - finding the thing, buying the thing, putting the thing together with other things, wearing it on your body in real life and then heading out into the real world… Depending on how strong their self-esteem is, that can become something that is just too hard to even contemplate. They go into this ‘neutral zone’ where they're not offending anyone, but nor do they look good because they're not utilizing the body's proportions and they're judging themselves anyway that they feel frumpy and mediocre and boring.
If you've grown up and you have just always dressed a certain way, that becomes your style identity. It is very hard to break that because it is like having to create a new identity. The brain power and the energy and the courage that can take is incredibly daunting for most women.
You don't need to sell to the whole world. You can communicate who you are and what you're all about in so many different ways – you just have to pick the ways that feel truthful for you.
PQ: Is it more important now than ever that we add flair and personality to our brands in the way we present ourselves?
TSC: It’s so important that we're able to inject our authentic flare and our real personality and our own sense of style into our business so people can feel that connection and learn what we're all about. We are craving connection and realness and depth and transparency and honesty and integrity - in all aspects of the way we live. I think there's only so much that we can tolerate before we're too far away from what our soul needs, which is simplicity, connection and nourishment. Creative nourishment. Human nourishment. Visual nourishment. I think that we want to know who people are because regardless of any time in history, business have always been built on relationships.
Not everyone's going to connect with you or like you or trust you regardless of how good you are as a person, or how much you might share from your heart. But the people that you do connect with will come towards you. You don't need to sell to the whole world. You can communicate who you are and what you're all about in so many different ways – you just have to pick the ways that feel truthful for you.
You don’t have to go from never updating your LinkedIn, having no photos and no website to suddenly doing a Facebook live every two hours and sharing a photo shoot with 50 photos of your face. It could just be sharing your morning routine. Or updating your website with a new photo even though it might be of you in half-shadow. You’ll get a sense of where you like to sit.
PQ: What’s one thing we can action today that would help our business and brand shine bright?
TSC: Your brand is your legacy in a way. It's your message to the world. I think the bravest thing that you could do is decide who you are and what's important to you and write that down. That is your north star. Have that as your benchmark - something that's literally visible next to you so that you can refer back to it. Does this post reflect my legacy? Does this tell people a tiny bit about who I am underneath the skill set and the experience and the two kids and the salary or the body that looks like this? Keep checking in with that rather than superficial measurements of what you want to do, what success is or how you want to brand yourself.
It goes back to the magic of what's underneath. I think people are very scared to share their magic because it will be up for judgment and criticism. It’ll come up against your own self-judgment.
Rather than making it some huge project of “I've got to be myself. What does that look like? I’ve got to get new photos and new outfits and rewrite this and I've got to be more this”, it just like “Who am I? She's determined. She's feisty. She will tell you the truth no matter what.” Those little things will flavour what you share and that's what people will feel. It's taking it back to the absolute basics as opposed to the fancy stuff, the big strategies or the instant fixes. Sometimes the bravest thing is going small.