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Early Influences to Starting Own Stylist Company

Sarah Webb
By Sarah Webb

Helen Holden is a New Zealand native planted here in the states with her husband and adult children.  Through early childhood role modeling and retail experiences Helen has honed in her styling skills.  She loves helping women define their personal style and give them confidence in their abilities to shine.

Share with us a bit about your background. What were some of your early exposures to fashion and style?

I grew up watching my mother sew beautiful wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses and also dresses for the Mothers of the Bride and Groom.  She would also sew outfits for her clients.  Her clients typically didn’t fit “off the rack” sizes, and growing up in New Zealand there was not a lot of size selection – no petites, no extra tall.  I understood from an early age that it was possible to make someone look amazing in what they wore,  by wearing correct shapes and dimensions for your body type.  I was always fascinated by the transformation of the beautiful bolts of fabrics and laces that would arrive at the house, and see them transformed into amazing pieces, custom fit for each client. This really gave me a huge interest in style and appreciation for fabrics from a very young age.

You had these early experiences and then life goes on. You moved to the United States with your husband and then started your family.  When and how did you get back into fashion and style?

We left New Zealand in 2001 with our sons who were then aged 8 and 9, and moved to England for 3 years.  We moved to Boston in 2004 and I started managing a small clothing boutique in Concord MA part time.  With every relocation I would get the family settled first, then look for something to do part time.  We had many years in the Philadelphia area where I worked at Crate and Barrel. I was so drawn to the textiles and loved my job as Department Manager of the accessories Department of the store. When we moved to Florida I started working for a company called J McLaughlan.  They are based in New York and have over 100 small boutique style stores, selling women’s and men’s clothing. This was the perfect fit for me as I loved the classic but fun styles, and the gorgeous fabrics and prints.  Each relocation after this J McLaughlin found a position for me in our new location.

What did you enjoy most about working in retail? How did that lead you to starting your own styling business?

It was while working for J McLaughlin that I discovered  I truly loved connecting with, and helping women find a look that was who they were today.  It was so rewarding for me to help women step into the next stage of life, with a new found excitement and zest for life.  My sister in law Louise had said to me about 5 years ago that I was so good at finding outfits for women that I should start my own business and call it Elevate!  So the seed was planted,  and 18 months ago I decided the time and place was right for Elevate to come to life.

What kind of women should consider hiring a stylist? What kinds of services to you offer? 

I find that most of my clients reach out to me because they are going through some  sort of change in life.  Relocating, change of career, change in lifestyle to name a few.  My services include wardrobe makeover, shop your closet, wardrobe edit, shopping to replace updated items that have been edited and style to show how to wear new items, vacation packing and special event styling.

Some might say that fashion and personal styling is frivolous, how have you seen your support help women beyond the fashion?

My clients are always thrilled with my services – they love the outfits and combinations of colors I choose for them.  I take my time to understand my clients personality, lifestyle, career and colors that suit them best. It is the boost in self confidence, and a sense of new found belief they are ready for the next chapter in life, that makes my service a little more layered (pardon the pun).

We talk a great deal about being authentic, is this something we can bring out in fashion?

Yes definitely!  I always reflect my clients personality in their clothing – it is so important to be you, and to be comfortable. It is a fact that if an item in your closet is not comfortable – you wont reach for it – it will hang there taking up valuable real estate!

All of us at Plaid for Women are about inclusion and no judgement. We have a movement titled #NoMeanGirls, as we too want all women to come together to support one another without judgement. Can you remember an experience you have had either professionally or personally that you had Mean Girl treatment?

Oh yes!  I think when you are different (from somewhere else, have a funny accent) inclusion can take time. I have learned that this is always a reflection of the person that this attitude is coming from.

How can listeners contact you if they are interested in engaging further with you?

My website is

Sarah Webb
A bit about me, I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and volunteer. I am married and have two children - one who aspires to be a secret spy ninja and the other wants be a doctor for toys...Read More
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