Personal stylist Corinne Phipps has two rules for her clients: you have to try on everything that she brings into the dressing room, and you don’t have to buy anything. Using this method, the founder and CEO of Urban Darling, a South Bay wardrobe styling company, is able to nudge people out of their clothing routines and into new, flattering looks.
“People get stuck in style ruts,” says Phipps over lunch in downtown San Jose. “They have to be willing to change, and not everybody is.” For those who are ready to make a change, Phipps and her team of stylists are experts at taking personal appearance to the next level.
“I really know how to communicate with clients,” says Phipps, who prides herself on hearing what clients are trying to communicate and what their real fears are. This often includes having to banish the things that negative people have said to them. “It’s just about making women feel more confident,” she adds.
For Phipps, Urban Darling is a natural extension of what she loves doing. Several years ago, she was talking with a business consultant who asked her what kind of business she would like to start. Phipps didn’t have an answer, so the consultant asked her what she liked to do. “I said I like to shop,” Phipps recalls with a smile.
The consultant’s response changed the course of Phipps’ career and life. “She said, ‘I hate to shop,’” recounts Phipps. “‘There’s a huge business right there.’”
“I had no idea that this type of thing existed,” says Phipps, who became a stylist and found herself being approached by other women who wanted to do the same thing, and the idea for Urban Darling was born.
Now with 14 stylists in 10 states, Urban Darling is helping people all over to step up their style game. Urban Darling offers several services, including closet shopping to help reconfigure existing wardrobes; closet audits to determine whether clothing is reflective of one’s desired lifestyle; look-overhauling shopping trips; and soon-to-be-unveiled virtual styling.
“You need clothing,” says Phipps. “So you may as well look cute wearing it. And you don’t have to spend a million bucks.”
Initially catering to stay-at-home moms, who tend to take care of everyone but themselves, Urban Darling has expanded to include corporate and professional women who want to add some polish to their look. “They want to be attractive,” says Phipps, “but also be seen as professional and goal oriented.”
Urban Darling also serves everyday women who just don’t like to shop—a notion that is unimaginable to Phipps. “Our stylists really love the idea of the every woman,” she says. “We treat all our clients like celebrities.”
The name of the game for Urban Darling is finding out why people have come to them. Whether they need a new look for home, work or play, Phipps and her team of stylists are trained to help. “We have clients fill out a profile to paint us a picture of their life. Then we go over the profile with them in order to understand what they want,” says Phipps. “But I always ask clients, ‘Where is your nice, special stuff?’” says Phipps. “‘We’re going to start wearing that now.’”
The future looks bright for Urban Darling, with three more stylists coming on board in early 2011, a steady stream of grateful clients and a thriving company based on one woman’s vision to help people to look and feel their best. “I want people to know that they can come to us and we’ll help them out,” says Phipps, who adds that now is the time to start looking great. “Don’t feel intimidated to call,” she says. “And don’t wait to lose that 10 pounds. Just call.”
Aware of the potential that personal appearance has to transform lives, Phipps notes that she’s proud of what Urban Darling is doing. “We’re kind of life-changers in a very subtle way,” she says. “We’re not curing cancer, but damn it, when a person feels good about themselves it emanates and they pay it forward.”