Our first profile proudly highlights Amy Storer-Scalia, the editor-in-chief and publisher of CincyChic online magazine.
- Best general advice you’ve ever received
- Care more than others think is wise. Risk more than others feel is safe. Dream more than others think is possible.
- Worst general advice you’re ever received
- Don’t talk to strangers. I’ve made powerful connections just through the gift of gab. You never know who that person is in the elevator with you or next to you on the plane.
- Best style advice you’ve ever received?
- Always wear heels. You stand taller, prouder and more confident. And your legs look fab!
- Worst style advice you’ve ever received?
- The workplace is no place for femininity. I completely disagree. Women should embrace the fact that we’re women in our wardrobes. We’re not just men with smaller suits. We’re a powerful force in the workplace, especially when wearing a pair of pumps that make us feel like a million bucks.
- When someone tells you "you look nice today," believe them.
- Women have a tough time with appearance praise. I tell people how cheap I got the dress they just complimented or how my good-hair day is a fluke. I don’t want anyone to think I’m anything less than humble. But lately I’m forcing myself to not downplay compliments, but rather embrace them with a "thank you" and letting myself believe them.
- When someone tells you "you can’t," don’t believe them.
- I’m a true believer in "when there’s a will, there’s a way." Everyone had their reasons why Cincy Chic wouldn’t work: I was too young, too inexperienced, had limited start-up funds, no investors, no corporate backing, no staff. But I wanted to do this. Honor the "you can" in your heart.
- You’re more likely to offer a Cincy Chic job to someone who does or says what?
- "I will work hard to do the job right." I was never the brightest crayon in the box, but I worked hard through school. It took me 10 times longer to memorize Shakespeare or multiplication tables than my peers, but I worked hard to keep my grades at the top of the class. If someone has a true hunger for doing the job right, I’ll give them the world.
- When did you first understand the power of image in helping you achieve your personal/professional goals?
Five short years ago, I was one hot mess. I had just graduated from college, so I was still used to $1 beers, all-you-can-eat Skyline on Tuesday and $5 haircuts. Luckily, at the time, I was dating a guy who had a great sense of fashion and a talented hair stylist as a sister.
He took me shopping and she took me to her salon. My first hair cut/color with her was actually in a basement – like some covert mission to change my identity—but I emerged from that basement a new woman.
I went to work the next day and received many compliments. Friends and family raved. I would even get stopped by strangers asking me who cut my hair—some would even take pictures to give to their stylists.
Now that I know the feeling of a good haircut and outfit, I don’t want to ever go back. I feel different, more confident, even more successful—and I don’t ever want to go back to the frumpy frugal girl I was before. That confidence is priceless!
- Were you aware at the time that the entity/organization you represented also benefitted from your presentation of self?
- There’s a lot of pressure to work for a company with "Chic" in its name. I knew immediately that I had to look and act the part to get readers interested in reading our content and sponsors interested in supporting us.
- How did your dress/grooming change as you moved from one career or job position to the next?
- As a young woman? My parents were both blue collar, so they never had much money to spend on anything that wasn’t a necessity. And we lived on a farm, so I was very much a tomboy. I had a long way to come!
- Starting out professionally? A significant other was honest with me about my self-presentation. I began to realize the direct correlation between how you look and how you feel and even how far you can go up the corporate ladder!
- As editor of Cincy Chic? The shop-o-holic disease is a workplace hazard of working at Cincy Chic! I’m always discovering the best sales or new designers at local boutiques. Plus, I like to support the local businesses that support my business through sponsorships and advertisements. I like to find unique, one-of-a-kind items at local boutiques versus big box stores.
- How did your behavior change as you moved from one career or job position to the next?
- As a young woman? I was always career-minded. In high school, I had simultaneous three part-time jobs as well as extra-curricular activities and sports.
- Starting out professionally? Continued career-minded. I had numerous freelance writing jobs on top of my full time job.
- As editor of Cincy Chic? I’ve now streamlined all my work and effort into one basket as the editor of Cincy Chic. Furthermore, I see the value of a balanced life. Quality time with my husband and puppy are very important to me. In fact, I have recently started shutting off my computer on the weekends so I can truly enjoy my personal life and not let my work consume it. I feel like I’m happier, and more efficient at work because of it.
- Were these changes a personal decision or triggered by external factors/events?
- My decision to enjoy life more was triggered by an external event. I had two dear friends pass away in a car accident on a weekend trip I was asked to go on. I didn’t go because I was working. Although my work potentially saved my life in this instance, I hold the guilt of my last conversations with them being about me working too much and never making time for them. I vowed to never make a loved one feel like my work is more important to them.
- Have you ever worn something on the job you later regretted?
- Before my wardrobe makeover, I used to wear clothing that was several sizes too large. I thought it was unprofessional to wear more form-fitting clothing in the workplace, so I would wear shirts and pants that were very oversized. The women in my department would joke when I’d wear one certain pair of pants. They’d ask when the circus was in town.
- What is your "go-to" outfit, that wardrobe ensemble that instantly empowers?
- I have my "good luck" little black dress that I transform into business professional (blazer over top), business casual (belted cardigan over top), cocktail chic (just LBD with cute pumps and accessories). I won an award from the Cincinnati Chamber and got engaged when wearing this dress, so I like to wear it when I need a little luck.
Amy Starts Branding
- When did you begin intentionally branding yourself?
- When I started Cincy Chic. There’s pressure to represent a company with "chic" in the name. For people to understand and want to be affiliated, I needed to look the part.
- In your opinion, what percentage of women use image/branding to their advantage?
- Unfortunately, not enough women understand how to brand themselves or even the power of presentation. Humans are visual beings. If you look the part, portray the right image, and brand yourself consistent with your message, people will remember you. Otherwise, you get lost in the unmemorable abyss.
- How does Cincy Chic staff represent your brand effectively?
- When anyone joins our team (full-time or intern), the company is fully explained: what we write about, events we host, our core values, and our mission statement. This sets the collective standard for who we are and what we must do. We even have a "chic buck" incentive program when a team member sees another team member personifying one of our core values. At the end of every year, we randomly select one chic buck from the pot and that person wins $1,000. This program reinforces company values and incentivizes our mission.
- What’s your response to people who that image shouldn’t be important, that only the quality of their work matters?
- I would say they are partially right. The quality of their work does matter, but the image is just as important. You go to a five star restaurant expecting good food, but if it was just slopped on a plate, you would be confused and disappointed—even if it tasted the same. People equate presentation with quality. It’s the final touches and the first impressions that matter—and that’s all presentation.
- Do you dress to "stand out" or "blend in"?
- Stand out. Absolutely. I want someone to compliment my boots. I reply that we just wrote a story about the boutique where I purchased the pair. I give her my card to check out the article and I have a reader for life.
- When can you "break the rules" of clothing norms and wear whatever you want?
- That’s tricky. It depends on your industry and work place. Some businesses have strict guidelines on wardrobe (I once worked for a place that didn’t allow open-toed shoes). One must balance feeling personally confident, but respecting the occupational clothing norms. I always think a subtle flare is the best practice in the work place. Wear something a little different and a little fashion-forward in the workplace. On your own time – like on a date or out with friends – now that’s a time when you can let the fun flag fly.
- Are the rules for your dress more relaxed since you’ve achieved a level of success?
- I did wear a lot more suits when I first got started, but now I wear more business casual with a fashionable flare. I feel more comfortable, and I feel it’s more aligned with what my own clients wear when I meet them.
- How important is it to maintain a healthy figure and lifestyle?
- I do think that weight management falls into a good image. I’ve heard some people say that they perceive overweight people as being not "in control" or irresponsible. Although I don’t necessarily agree with that, I do think a healthy figure makes me personally feel and look more confident. Also, with a publication that covers the topic of health each week, it is part of my brand to look and feel healthy.
- How do you project "business" while inherently being an attractive woman?
- It’s a fine line. Women are inherently "sexy." But it’s seen as unprofessional to be sexy in the workplace. It’s important to maintain a high level of class and style with your daywear. Leave the sexy for after hours.
- Looking around your work office (and how you’ve decorated it), what perceptions do you want visitors to form?
- Chic, urban, and simple.
Amy Talks Clothing & Shopping
- How often do you shop?
- About once a month.
- Do you frequent certain stores or websites?
- I love Forever 21 and H&M. Three fashion blogs I recommend: http://whatiwore2day.blogspot.com, http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/ and http://blog.forever21.com/blog/list.asp
- What percentage of your budget is spent on clothing, grooming, accessories, etc.?
- About 10% of my budget. I haven’t increased this figure– I just got smarter about how I spend it!
- Do you have a love-love or love-hate relationship with clothes?
- Love, love, love. I love the art of finding something that looks right with my figure and makes me feel pretty.
- How would you identify your style/clothing personality?
- Creative Classic.
- Do you have a clothing mentor who influences your style (CEO, celebrity, political figure, etc.)?
- Yes, her name is Jane Schulte and she is the Executive Vice President and COO of PRISM Title & Closing Services. She’s also a talented author, artist, and leader who has mastered work-life balance.
- Can you comment on your hairstyle and how it serves your personal/professional goals?
- It’s short, simple, and chic. It’s low-maintenance, as it looks put-together with little effort. That fits the image I want to portray and complements my busy schedule.
- What piece of jewelry couldn’t you live without?
- My wedding ring.
- Have you ever worn accessories strategically?
- Yes, I had a headshot on our company website for a long time with glasses. I don’t wear glasses, but they made me look more "editor-like" so I wore them for the picture. Unfortunately when I’d meet people for the first time, they’d look for someone with glasses and couldn’t find me! Needless to say, I stopped randomly wearing glasses to look more editor-like.
- Which statement is most accurate? (1) I dress for myself, (2) I dress for my job, (3) I dress for my husband.
- It’s context specific. If I’m on a date, I want to wear something my husband will like. If it’s out with my girlfriends, I want to wear something I think they’ll like and compliment. If it’s just me grabbing coffee, I’ll dress for me. If it’s for work, I dress for my job.
Inspired? Learn more about Amy and her company at www.cincychic.com