Today we’d like to introduce you to Risa.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Risa. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
Originally from New England but definitely more of a city girl; fashion has always been in my blood. My mother is an incredible seamstress, and from the time I was born, she was at the sewing machine making me and my two sisters one-of-a-kind pieces. She taught me how to sew around age 10, and that’s around the time I started making outfit requests and getting to oversee her process by choosing my own fabrics and playing a role in the design process. I never got the hang of it as she hoped, so I was more of the idea person, and she executed to perfection (she still does!). I was also big into theater and inspired by Broadway, so I loved costuming at a very young age.
Cut to right after my high school graduation in the summer of 1999 when I was in a horrific car accident that left my entire right cheek severely scarred, it was then that my path was truly forged. Since I had to undergo multiple (4) reconstructive, resurfacing and laser surgeries, I developed an in-depth interest in learning how to cover my scar so I could face the last part of my teens and enter my early twenties with a rebuilt self-confidence. I was a cheerleader at the University of Maine and sang the national anthem at all our sporting events, so being on camera and in the public eye wasn’t easy.
I ended up leaving college due to debilitating PTSD, some neurological issues, and vision impairment and knew at that time I was destined to travel the road less wandered.
From there, I took a couple of odd jobs as a stepping stone before deciding to enroll in Cosmetology school in Boston just around the corner from Fenway Park (Go Sox!). I moved there with a friend and put myself through school so I could leave with a license to properly learn how to apply makeup (makeup artistry schools weren’t really prevalent in the early 2000’s). I figured that was the best way to learn a trade and truly focus on teaching young girls that had been left scarred how to properly apply makeup and build self-confidence. Little did I know it would be the kickoff to my entrepreneurial journey and the foundation of what’s now known as RISTYLE Consulting.
I ended up graduating from school all the while being trained as a hairstylist on Newbury Street at Diego Salon, but an opportunity arose I couldn’t resist. After dabbling a bit in wedding hair and makeup around Boston, a good friend of mine called and told me she and two other girls were moving to San Francisco and essentially told me I needed to go with them. I believe the exact words were, “We’re moving to San Francisco, and you’re coming!”. I quickly responded with…”Where’s San Francisco?”. It was hands down the best decision I ever made, as it catapulted my career into all that encompasses my business now — a mix of beauty, fashion, customer service, and PR. Fun fact: I always knew I wanted a one-stop-shop company, so I actually bought my domain name in 2007 and have had the name since then.
Opportunities continued to compliment my hard work, and I was busy running my own business doing wedding hair and makeup styling, working as an assistant manager of a hip day spa, and working as a salesperson and buyer at a local clothing boutique. While doing all that, I was lucky enough to meet a fashion designer who was a client at the day spa, and she ended up taking me under her wing and allowed me to freelance for her doing hair and makeup for headshots, styling her bags in branding shoots, and accompanying her to fun fashion events. After about a year of knowing her and building my resume, I was about to pursue a career in wardrobe styling in Los Angeles, when she stopped me and told me not to go; to stay and work for her as a member of the team.
That was the job. The dream fashion job that introduced me to the world of start-ups, production, manufacturing, sales, web development, e-commerce, fashion trade shows, public relations, buying, wholesale, retail and so much more. I was a key player in a small business that took me all over the world to cities such as Florence, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, New York… the list goes on. Unfortunately, the business didn’t last more than a few years, so I ended up relying on the contacts I had developed to make a new start in NYC in 2008. I ended up beating out dozens of girls for a position as an in-house publicist for the contemporary women’s ready-to-wear brand, Prairie New York, and after an almost 6-year-run in San Francisco, packed my bags for NYC.
Once the market started on a downward spiral, I decided it was time to start applying to Universities to finally finish my degree. I ended up here in Arizona (I have family here and learned how to golf at age 12, so it was a no-brainer), to complete a degree in Communication with a minor in Media Analysis from the Cronkite School. While in school I worked toward starting my full-scale styling business. I spent my days working at a restaurant where I knew I’d make amazing contacts, started networking, and used all my free-time to start laying the groundwork for RISTYLE.
In 2014, I launched my company and still have the first closet clean-out client that took on a chance on a brand new company almost five years ago. Today, RISTYLE is that one-stop-shop styling company I always envisioned. I now have three associate stylists, and our focus has really turned to wedding styling, shopping, and private styling for monthly members. There’s also a few irons in the fire for some new and exciting projects you’ll have to stay tuned for!
Has it been a smooth road?
Not exactly… is it ever?!
Well, my car accident has been the biggest struggle of my life. In fact, I still deal with it on a daily basis 19 years later, and although I believe I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing had that not happened, It’s a constant reminder that overcoming is a lifelong process. I’ve come to realize that hard work both personally, and professional will always drive my spirit, and nothing in life is guaranteed. It’s also taught me that it’s not at all about how I look even though I’m in the world of fashion and beauty, rather it’s about connecting with my clients and reaching the very core of their hearts. I think my clients appreciate my authenticity and the integrity of how I run my business, so I’m grateful for that. I think telling my story strikes a chord with people and they realize that even though I’m a ‘Stylist’, I too have endured real struggles and understand exactly how they’re feeling. I always say that we all have to get dressed, so how can we make this fun and exciting and give you the confidence you need while performing this ongoing and necessary act.
Additionally, I don’t have a business background and have been self-taught from the very beginning. My parents always said if we could reach the washing machine, we could do our own laundry, so that kind of independence is the basis of everything I do. I didn’t always love school, and although I excelled at ASU through hard work and discipline, nothing came easily to me. It’s the same in business. I haven’t had any help, I’ve learned a lot the hard way, and I’ve been taken advantage of many times. As I approach my five year anniversary, I’m going into this year ahead with eyes wide open and taking proper steps to protect work, however, I can.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with RISTYLE Consulting – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
This is the fun stuff! RISTYLE is an all-encompassing styling company that specializes in personal shopping and styling for private clients, brides, editorial, and businesses both here in Arizona and wherever the job takes me!
Since I got my start in bridal hair and makeup, I truly believe brides are a specialty of mine, as I understand the head-to-toe look, have also dipped my toes in the day-of wedding coordinating world, and know the importance of proper styling for professional pictures. The most popular service and what I’m trying to make a name for today is definitely my Bride’s Best Friend styling service (think: personal wardrobing assistant to the Bride and bridal parties on the day of a wedding); but I also still have a loyal and amazing client base that I see regularly that utilize my styling concierge services daily and monthly. For my private clients, services include personal shopping, outfit planning, packing for travel, closet management, and organization, and photo shoot styling to name the most booked services. Essentially there isn’t anything to do with clothing or shopping I DON’T do! When someone comes into the RISTYLE family, they have full access to me, and I do my best to stay on top of whatever it is they need. I’m incredibly proud of the name I’ve made for myself, my unique ability to connect with my clients, and the grassroots foundation I’ve created. It’s not easy as we all know!
Additionally, what makes RISTYLE so unique is my 360-degree wealth of experience. I am truly a customer service-based company, so I’ve married my experience in hospitality to my love of fashion to make a winning combination of service and style. I don’t know a lot of other stylists that have traveled the globe and worked in so many different facets to create the kind of agency I have… but if you’re out there, send me an email – I want you on my team!
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love that Arizona continues to be an up-and-coming fashion force. There are SO many talented people here doing incredible things. I also love that it’s a blank slate for people to get creative and make their own way, as opposed to the city already being ‘known’ for something specific. Like almost every other city, I’ve moved to sight unseen, I didn’t know what to expect, and I feel like that’s how it is for fashion here. We are all in a melting pot learning to expect the unexpected, and there’s something really special about that. Getting to be a part of a thriving city that has produced so many emerging entrepreneurs is an absolute blast.
I suppose with the good we must endure the bad, and I will say that it’s hard that the summers quiet down here. I’m from Maine where the state comes alive in the summer, so being a business owner in the triple-digit heat (with no access to a beach) definitely takes a toll and makes momentum going into fall difficult. Other than that, I love that I’m just a quick plane ride to clients and family in CA and CO, enjoy an amazing quality of outdoor life and nature here, and have been able to make myself a name in a small city with big possibilities.
- Website: www.ristyleconsulting.com
- Phone: 415.971.4156
- Email: email@example.com
Marisa Belle Photography, Azure Schaffer, TBC Consignment, WAYL.A. Studios, Lily’s Lashes, Nicole Rehak Evans, Brianna Anderson Photography, Hair by Brittah, Melissa Jones, CAK Designs, Mood Fabrics, Kelly Cappelli, The Agency Arizona, Rare Scarf Vintage, Charlie Green, The Estate Watch and Jewelry Company, Drew Noreen, Nicholas Czapinski, Shannon Lee Photography, Brie Bella, Eileen Sandoval, Katelynd Curtis, Kelly Stoneman, Blok Studio