Women of Action – Bernadette Payne

I recently had the absolute honour of being interviewed by the energetic and inspiring Melanie Wheatley.

Melanie Wheatley developed the “freedom of action” coaching methodology designed to help women get out of the self-help jail of procrastination and have them feeling the freedom of designed purposeful action.

In this interview we talk about confidence, breaking rules, mum guilt and more – enjoy!

MW : I understand you are a fashion stylist – can you tell us a little bit more about what this means to you and how you came to be in this industry and why you are so passionate about what you do?

BP: My journey to becoming a stylist has been a lengthy but authentic one. I chose my high school just so I could study textiles and design. Then straight from school I sat an exam and was accepted into the Design school at East Sydney. I worked hard for 2 years studying and learning the technical aspects of pattern-making, design, sewing and the detailed science behind fibres and fabrications. I graduated with no idea what jobs were out there for me. Breaking into the industry was tough. A qualification meant nothing to prospective employees. I lost track of how many jobs I had. It was fickle and soul destroying. I jumped around taking different roles for years before moving to London. I returned to Sydney and my dream job at 28. I was travelling, sourcing, designing and running a 3 million dollar account. I loved it although I had total imposter syndrome. The responsibility was consuming at times but I was running on adrenaline and travelling the world.

I have always been passionate and creative. I love being with people and helping them to feel confident in their own skin. I believe it takes all of those things to be a stylist and I feel like this career really chose me. The journey to arrive at That’s my style was very rocky but I wouldn’t change it as it shaped me for my role as a stylist. I am working with people at a very vulnerable level that I can relate to.

MW: What was the pulling force that helped you choose to step away from working for someone else to working as a solopreneur?

BP: It was an easy decision for many reasons. The fashion manufacturing industry (known as the rag trade ) had changed dramatically since I entered it in 1996. My role was becoming less creative and more budget driven.

I was being forced to make ethical decisions regarding factories that didn’t sit right with me at all.

I was pretty much fed up working for corporate industry and for men that had no concept of women having a career and being a mum. After I had my first child I had to return full time and overseas travel or resign. I resigned and was poached by a new company that agreed my terms. This meant I was the only women in 2008 within my industry that held the position of account manager whilst working part-time. I had to constantly fight to justify working part-time and was always made to feel guilty. It was all about budget and turnover. Crazy, that they got away with it. I took an agreed redundancy after having my 3rd child as I was sick of justifying my life to my boss. Best thing I did. I felt incredibly free. My family was always my priority. ‘That’s My style’ was born out of that redundancy.

MW: You are a mum of three, a wife, sister, friend AND run a successful business… many would be wondering how you do it all!  What advice would you give to other women out there reading this who think they can’t… They may be in the beginnings of their business and doing the juggle struggle?

BP: That’s a good question. I don’t do all areas well at the same time. It’s a constant juggle and I couldn’t do it without my husband. He understands what I do and supports me all the way. He is also constantly juggling his own business with our families needs. My family and friends see me struggle with the juggle at times but they are also very proud of me and what I have achieved in my business. This means everything to me.

I guess my advice at the beginning, is to keep taking steps in the right direction. Even if they are tiny. Always stay true to yourself and surround yourself with like-minded people that help keep you motivated and inspired. Connect with people and learn from them. Just put yourself out there. Being comfortable is the enemy of progression. Take time out to breathe and put life in perspective. Make sure you have the right mentor and never ever stop learning.

MW: I know you are all about helping women feel confident in their bodies whatever their size – Can you share more about your holistic approach to styling and any tips on how we can help strengthen that confidence muscle?

BP: Confidence is everything. My approach is around accepting the bodies we have and using clothing as a tool to bring out the best in us. It’s not the clothes we wear, but how we wear them. It is all about educating women in what suits them and why.

We work together to develop a real understanding of what your own individual style is based on body shape, values, budget and what visually appeals. It reduces the overwhelm and makes getting dressed everyday fun again. Knowledge is power. Confidence comes when you stop caring what others think and start focusing on what makes you feel like you. Style isn’t about fitting into a mould or following trends. It’s about celebrating who you are and being ok with the reflection in the mirror. Clothes really do have magical powers.


You can read the original interview on Melanie’s blog 

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