Your Style

Accentuating the positive in business

For the past 12 years personal stylist and image consultant, Susan Axford has been transforming people’s lives by ‘accentuating the positive’.

Susan’s business, Your Style, advises both men and women on all aspects of clothing, grooming and personal appearance – all with the purpose of empowering people to look great and feel more confident, giving them a competitive edge.

In a former life, Susan trained as a journalist, working for many years at the NZ Herald. Described by her peers as having ‘an innate sense of style’, it was no surprise that when the newspaper decided to publish a standalone Stylesupplement, Susan was the perfect candidate for the editor’s job.

“I’ve always been interested in fashion and beauty and a keen watcher of fashion trends so Style was a perfect fit for me,” says Susan.

It was during her tenure editing the supplement that Susan interviewed an image consultant; an interview that sparked her interest and ultimately led to starting her own consultancy business.

“I was always interested in what colours and styles work and what don’t. After training I developed a colour and style system to teach people what to wear and more importantly what not to wear,” she says.

Taking clients shopping is an important part of Susan’s business. She is an independent personal shopper with an impressive knowledge of clothing brands that will suit her clients.

Initially Your Style was a mobile service, with Susan traveling the country doing house calls that earned her the name ‘the style doctor’. Now the business has a studio base in Parnell, Auckland, but Susan still travels throughout New Zealand. Although incredibly busy, Susan says her first year in business was very tough.

“The industry was relatively new then and people didn’t understand it. But TV shows such as Gok and Trinny and Susannah have really lifted the profile of the industry, which is now growing rapidly worldwide. Because of these shows people are more aware of how they can transform their look simply by wearing a new colour or trying a different dress length. It validates what I am doing on an international level,” she says.

Although Susan works with people from all walks of life and from all parts of the country, she finds the main challenge to looking fabulous cuts across age, occupation and geography.

“Women are acutely aware of their body flaws and often focus on them rather than highlighting their best assets. My mantra is ‘accentuate the positive’. Looking in the mirror and only seeing the negative is the most common obstacle I come across. My work is about empowering people to put their best foot forward, to be the best they can be.”

Being a ‘creative’ type, Susan openly admits figures are not her forte (the numerical kind), so it was with great relief that nine years ago her lawyer recommended Sam Bassett at Markhams Auckland to help with the financial intricacies of running a business.

“Sam doesn’t just do my annual accounts; he is an integral part of my business.

There’s no such thing as a silly question to him – he is very approachable, thorough and always keen to explain things I don’t understand.”

Transitioning from full-time employment to self-employment was a huge step and very challenging for Susan, but she credits Sam with helping her out every step of the way with sound advice.

“Sam’s been wonderful and he continues to help me as my business grows. And he wears great suits and ties.”

Published Summer 2011.

Serious about your success?