She’s a New York gal who moved to Houston just like me, so we instantly had that northeast connection and couldn’t stop chatting over breakfast a couple weeks back. Valerie Halfon, 32, moved to Houston a little over a month ago, and is a well known Personal Shopper and Stylist. Shop With Val has been given praise by the New York Post, Marie Claire, and Time Out New York, and for good reason. This girl knows what she’s talking about when it comes to shopping and styling. She is extremely knowledgable, knows where to shop, what to buy, and what fits best for your body type (she’s worked with over 250 men and women, ranging from sizes 00 Petite to Size 24). She not only will help you shop, as well style you from head to toe, but she also does closet consultations and organization, can help you pack, among many other services. Enjoy reading below all about how Valerie got started, her favorite thing about NYC, 3 items every woman should own in her closet, and lots more.
How long have you been a Personal Shopper and Stylist?
I started my business, Shop With Val, in 2010.
Have you always known this is what you wanted to do? If not, when did you become interested in this field and what inspired you to do so?
Growing up I always wanted to be a dancer. I started dancing at the age of 3, and studied tap, jazz, ballet and hip hop until I was 19. I was always interested in fashion though, loved to shop and was good at finding a gem in the rough. I especially enjoyed putting outfits together on a budget, accessorizing and dressing up. In addition to that, I loved working with people and meeting new people. It wasn’t until 2010 when I was approached by a friend, who offered to hire me. She wanted to treat her friend to an afternoon with a personal shopper as a birthday gift. However, she was quickly turned off by the fact that the average stylist in NYC seemed to cater to those interested solely in high fashion. She believed I would do a great job as I was relatable and approachable, and I wanted to help, so I accepted her offer. It ended up being such a positive and rewarding experience. That first job inspired me to start my own business and help others regain their confidence, learn how to dress their body and discover new stores and styles they wouldn’t have tried on their own.
So exciting you’re now going to be working in Houston! Will you still have your NY area clients?
I am excited to be accepting new clients in the Houston area! I will still be flying back to NYC on a seasonal basis to continue to work with my clients there.
I also used to live in NYC – would love to know what your favorite thing about living there was.
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and lived in Manhattan the last 8 years. I loved the fast pace energy. I stepped outside my door and I had everything at my fingertips. Within two blocks I had two gourmet supermarkets, a pizza place, my go-to sushi spot, nail salon, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, and the subway. What more does a girl need?! Aside from how convenient it was, I loved the diversity that surrounded me and the endless opportunities. There are constantly new designers, showrooms and boutiques popping up, making it the perfect place for a personal shopper to work with their clients.
What is your favorite part about your job? Most rewarding? Most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my job is when I see how the clothing transforms the client. Many individuals I work with are going through big changes in their lives – having a baby, starting a new job, or moving to a new city. Whether I get to work with them only when they are in town or I see them periodically throughout the year I form a special bond with them during our time together, learning about their work and personal life. When I have the opportunity to help them prepare for big events in their life, as well as dressing for everyday, it’s gratifying to know you’ve helped someone look and feel their best.
The most challenging part of my job is get my clients to see themselves in the way I see them. They may often have self-esteem issues or recently changed sizes or had a baby, and it is my job to show them that no matter what size they are they can learn to love their body and feel good in it once they understand how to dress it. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is easier said than done, and so it’s my job to gently nudge them, so that they can reap the benefits of working with a stylist, while getting to try new shops and styles they wouldn’t have the courage or know-how to try on their own.
Walk us thru a day in your life. Running your business means you wear many different hats, I know.
On any given day I can be doing any / all of the following things: rummaging through a client’s wardrobe for a Closet Consultation, pulling pieces and styling outfits for a personal shopping session, responding to emails (there tends to be a lot of these!), networking/attending fashion events, searching for new designers/boutiques to work with … and that’s the more glamorous part that doesn’t include all the back end work involved in running a business!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?
Passion breeds motivation so find something you truly love and stick to it. It may take some time (years possibly) to get to a point that is fulfilling and profitable, but it’ll be worth the time, energy and sacrifices along the way. I feel incredibly blessed to do what I love and help people feel good about themselves. No matter how much work I have to do it never really seems to feel like work. The important part to remember is that if your business does not work out, you should not consider yourself a failure; rather be proud of yourself for taking a chance and trying to pursue something you believe in. Many people don’t have the means (or the guts) to do that.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is constantly evolving. From the time I started my business, to a year or two ago, to my new chapter here in Houston, I find my style constantly changing — becoming more sophisticated and classic as I get older, yet filled with plenty of fun, feminine pieces to add flair. I want to be able to express myself through clothes based on how I feel that day, where I’m going, or who I’ll be with. Some days I may feel edgy and willing to take risks, while other days my outfit may portray a softer, more feminine feel. That is the beauty of personal style and understanding how to find all the pieces that can represent you on any given day.
What 3 items should every woman have in her closet/wardrobe at all times?
1) A well-fitting pair of dark denim jeans. 2) A little black dress. 3) A pair of nude (skin toned) heels. These essentials can all go from day to night, work to weekend, and are incredibly versatile.
What inspires you?
I am constantly inspired by those around me walking the streets of NYC. Of course, I find inspiration in the media, reading fashion magazines and through bloggers and personal friends of mine. I love when I see a simple look that is so well executed. It makes me go into my closet and think, “I can recreate that!”
What motto/quote do you always try to live by?
“My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me.”
See previous interviews here.
If you or someone you know would be a good fit for this series, reach out to me. Would love to hear from you!