Take a look at what you’re wearing. According to LaShanda Milner-Murphy of LaShanda M3, your personal style says a lot about your brand. What does your style say about you?
LaShanda Milner-Murphy is a personal stylist with over 30 years of experience in the fashion industry. Introduced to entrepreneurship by her father and grandfather, she started working in her family’s sawmill business at a young age, learning business disciplines like customer service, as well as administrative and financial responsibilities. She started her business when she was 16, with the support from her family. She went on to earn her a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from UNC Charlotte, before returning to focusing on running her own business.
Today she owns and operates LaShanda M3, where she employs her talents and experiences as a fashion talent coach. Keep reading to learn more!
CBRBiz.com: Thank you for joining us! First, tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
LaShanda Millner-Murphy (LMM): I’m an only child, the mother of a 16 year-old son, and a wife.
At one time, I was a part-time race car driver for two years of my life, which my father introduced me to. He was a 470-stock car driver, and now my son is a Late Model round track race car driver. It’s funny–I guess my grandson (when that happens in later years!) will have to follow suit!
I’ve been in business for 34 years in the fashion industry. I also currently own a tuxedo rental business, partner to offer custom clothing for men and women, and provide personal image management and soft skills coaching in the styling part of my business.
CBRBiz.com: Have you always been interested in fashion?
LMM: I have always loved fashion, but in a different way than some of my peers. I’ve never been into designer only clothing. If it looked and fit properly and was of good quality, then I was interested.
CBRBiz.com: When did you become interested in professional fashion?
LMM: At the age of 16, I found an interest in professional style. Most of the time, it opens doors and opportunities and helps you to be judged by others in a positive way. I always share that 55% of perceptions are formed from your appearance (clothing), and the professional appearance normally helps keep the perceptions positive before you even say a word.
CBRBiz.com: Who or what inspired you?
LMM: My father was my personal shopper. He kept his little girl in beautiful, quality dresses in all colors. Being exposed to the best created an interest in providing that to other women, while first making sure they understand the value in looking and feeling their best.
Now, the funny side to this story is that my father also exposed me to what I used to call “boy” toys…race cars, mini trail bikes, and hanging around his greasy service station while my mother worked 3rd shift as a nurse. But he never failed to dress his little girl up on Sundays and for school.
As you see, I was a daddy’s girl.
CBRBiz.com: What are 5 of the most important rules to remember about style in the workplace?
LMM: Your appearance is part of the success formula in your workplace. So many factors should always be considered when preparing to show up for work because you are always being watched by your boss, colleagues and clients.
- Respect and understand your workplace dressing environment.
- Be aware of inappropriate body exposure.
- Minimize your choice of accessories.
- Keep your shoes classic and clean.
- Remember that clothing is not the only “style” you need to be concerned about. Your attitude and communication are part of that personal style.
CBRBiz.com: How would you describe your personal style?
LMM: I am Classic Chic. I lean on the basics but add a twist in colors and textures.
CBRBiz.com: What do you think is the hardest thing people face when finding clothes for work? What’s the solution?
LMM: I have had many conversations of challenges that women have when creating their business wardrobe. The primary challenge that I have found from those conversations are finding proper body type lengths and cuts of clothing that do not expose inappropriate areas of the body.
CBRBiz.com: What’s the biggest “no-no” when it comes to professional style?
LMM: No evening or party wear. Not even layered with a business blazer. These two will never mix and match well.
CBRBiz.com: What advice would you give to another entrepreneur hoping to pursue a similar path?
LMM: The fashion industry is ever changing and very broad in opportunities. Find your place, study it, research it and build your brand from becoming an expert at it.
CBRBiz.com: What are the unique challenges you’ve faced, and how did you overcome them?
LMM: As a young entrepreneur, really dedicating to my business even while in school was challenging because I did not live the normal youthful life. My friends and social life was limited because I was focused on building my business. I do not regret it, but when I was growing up, I was always questioned by my peers, “Why are you not doing this and going there?” That was hard sometimes to balance mentally.
As I mature in age and as an entrepreneur, I still experience some challenges. They never go away because, as you grow, more responsibilities/challenges follow. Now my challenge is How do I remain unique and keep my business on top of this technology whirlwind? There are many creative and great entrepreneurs out here. And to remain in the game and be noticed by new clients, you have to stay in tune with various aspects of life, including how to engage customers through your product and brand communication.
CBRBiz.com: Anything else you’d like to add?
LMM: It’s not always wonderful being a full-time entrepreneur, but I keep the focus on my belief that I have more work to do. I coach both the young and the matured that image matters, and they can be and dress authentically by showing the world (workplace) who they are through their respected unique style personality.
My motto: “Clothing is not always about the fabric, it’s a photograph. Create a positive image.”