Learn to love your curves with Santa Rosa personal stylist
Personal stylist Malia Anderson has one message for her clients: you're awesome just the way you are. And the more awesome you feel the more awesome you will look.
Anderson professionally dresses people. The owner of “Style by Malia,” she helps people find their own personal styles. The 38-year-old image expert helps her clients look their best by “auditing” their closets for what to keep and what to toss and going shopping with them for outfits and accessories that will make them look like a billion bucks at work or play.
She works out of a studio near downtown Santa Rosa, a lively space with pink velvet chairs, a wall of polka dots and lots of Kate Spade accessories. Her high-powered clients include Fourth District Supervisor James Gore and his wife Elizabeth, a Dell executive in charge of entrepreneurial efforts in the U.S. and globally.
Anderson grew up in the rough Bayview-Hunter's Point neighborhood of San Francisco and earned a certificate in fashion consulting and merchandising from San Francisco City College.
She gives back by serving on the board of the North Bay Black Chamber of Commerce and Legal Aid of Sonoma County, which provides legal services to low-income families and children dealing with issues such as domestic violence and eviction.
She has also served on the board of Soroptimist International of Santa Rosa and The Youth Professionals Network and founded the North Bay Women's Professional Network.
A plus-sized woman who has learned to love her curves, she also makes herself available as a speaker, talking to women about achieving a positive body image and inspiring minority youth to follow their dreams.
Q: What is the most important quality of a good stylist?
Listening to what my clients are saying about the challenges they have getting dressed and interpreting that back into real situations. For instance, I have clients who are nurses. Their everyday wardrobe is a uniform. When I go shopping with them I don't need to buy them work clothing. They live in a uniform all day. They're having trouble getting dressed outside the uniform. I make sure people get clothes that work for their lifestyle as a whole and not just bits and pieces.
Q: What job best prepared you most for being a stylist?
Working as a plus-size model. There were local shows in San Francisco and the East Bay I would hear about, and I would go and ask if they needed a plus-size model. They would often say they didn't have a place, but they said they would let me in after I told them I would create my own wardrobe for the show. That was an important part of making my love of fashion and style very solid.
Q: What's your oddest job and what did you learn from it?
I was a trucking company dispatcher for a number of years right out of high school. I learned how to read a map and back up an 18-wheeler. But because it was a small company and the owner was in the office every day, it really drove in the idea that I would like working for a small company or being an entrepreneur. I like clients knowing who I am and what I'm about. It also helped me in the most random way. When I plan my day, I plan it so I'm going in one direction and not going all over the place. It's one of those things you learn as a dispatcher.
Q: Who was your most significant mentor?
My grandma and my mom. My grandma was an entrepreneur. She still runs her own business, a day care center. She is an inspiration because she always made it work. She taught me about family. She taught me about a work ethic. She always made it look easy even though we knew she worked hard. She raised seven children of her own and six grandchildren.
Q: You were raised by your grandmother but say you also admire your mother?
My mom growing up was addicted to drugs. But she's been clean and sober for 14 years, and she is one of my best friends. She's a home health care worker. Even when she battled her addiction, she worked hard and strove to do everything she could for herself. She never asks for anything to be given to her, and she's instilled in me the belief that anything worth having is worth working for.
Q: What's the one most satisfying thing about your work?
When my clients get a promotion or get into a new relationship or their company grows, I feel good knowing I took something off their plate. They didn't have to worry about getting dressed, and they could concentrate on doing a good job. That inspires me to keep going.
Q: Your idea of the biggest wardrobe disaster?
Bad foundation. Bad bras. They need to be tossed after two years. Bad underwear. It's going to make your clothing look bad. Men wear underwear that bunches or they don't wear the right T-shirt to match their collar. Every one of my clients has to have their foundation garments audited.
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