Fashion is not only pieces of fabric sewn together – it is expression, it is personality, it is a story. As fashion stylist Rachel Zoe once said, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak”. No two people are alike, and likewise, each outfit carries with it a certain purpose. From different fabrics, textures, statement pieces – there are infinite possibilities when creating an outfit. As an individual, one has the ability to portray themselves whichever way they please, by the outfit and pieces they choose to put together to make the final product.
The beautiful, talented individual chosen as 2015’s Best Personal Shopper is Risa Kostis, coming in first with 65.50% of the votes.
Risa Kostis, 33, while originally from the East Coast, now resides in Phoenix and it is right here in the Valley where she operates her business, RISTYLE consulting. We asked Kostis for an inside look at her life, passions, and all things shopping, of course!
A typical day in my life includes… cold pressed juice and a venti latte, a trip to the stores to stay current and gather inspiration for looks, meetings with clients or industry colleagues I’m collaborating with, a yoga class or quick run, and if there’s time – dinner out in North Central with friends or family. My day is never quite the same and I love that I’m always discovering a new store, restaurant or area of the valley.
My passion for fashion comes from… my mother. I grew up requesting outfits for school and watching her sit for hours intently at the sewing machine. She ignited my interest in looking like no one else and always encouraged creativity and the arts. From costumes I studied at Broadway shows we attended, to the shopping trips I saved my allowance money for…I was hooked to the endless possibilities the world of fashion allows.
When I was a little girl, I… padlocked my closet to keep my sisters from stealing my clothes! I was always protective of the pieces I gathered and cataloged each item in my closet carefully – I always knew when something was missing. I did my own laundry as soon as I was able to reach the washing machine, a skill I was grateful to have so I could care for my clothes and learn how fabrics wash and wear.
My favorite place to shop is… New York City. I grew up going back and forth from Maine to NYC, and still relish how shopping there is a true experience. The merchandising, window displays, just the market in general is incomparable. It offers something for everyone and with the turn of a corner, you never know what you’ll stumble upon. Shopping in New York is an emotional experience and I still remember some of the first pieces I purchased there as a young girl.
Do you like to shop at local boutiques? YES! They’re so rare in Arizona; therefore I love to show them my support. Boutique shopping offers a more intimate, hands-on experience, which is also the way I approach my business. I think there’s something to be said for a carefully edited selection and unique offering in a very saturated market.
When shopping for clients, I… have a careful eye and cater to the specific needs of each person I work with. There’s no one-way approach to how I shop, and I won’t stop until I discover exactly what I’m looking for. I like to have clients accompany me, as I think it’s a chance to really get to know someone and educate them on the process and how the industry works. Customer service is a very important part of my philosophy, as fashion can be very overwhelming and difficult to navigate without guidance.
In my free time, I… try to get out and enjoy everything the valley has to offer. I love going to art exhibits, hitting the golf course, attending fashion events or trying out new restaurants. Free time is hard to come by, so I cherish it deeply. I take “me” time, but as an entrepreneur it’s really hard to turn my mind off from work…
Do you prefer online shopping or shopping in person? I love how much product I can cover through online shopping. Having so much to choose from definitely makes my job easier. That said, however, I’ll never lose my affinity for going into a store and running my hands over fabric and trying garments on. Anyone who has shopped with me will tell you that I make you go into the dressing room, and I want to see everything! Knowing how a piece moves and feels is part of the process, and I won’t hesitate to get down on the ground and tug on a pant leg or swing a skirt if I get the chance. I’ll never lose my love for that.
My personal style is… experimental and ever evolving. It depends on my mood and what I’m inspired by at the moment; it’s very situational. I don’t have one specific style, rather I’ll wear anything that I feel I can work into my existing wardrobe and style a number of ways. One moment I’ll opt for a classic, Audrey Hepburn inspired look, and the next you may catch me in a casual street wear ensemble. I like provoking thought with what I wear and those who know me have come to expect the unexpected.
My favorite items in my closet are… It’s hard to name just a few! Right now it’s my Vince peep-toe grey booties, high-waisted full black skirt (custom made by my mother), and my leopard skinny belt from J. Crew. I love neutral pieces that can be worn multiple ways.
When at home…I try and slow down. I work from home and am surrounded by garment racks and accessories, so it’s hard to shut my brain off! I make sure to take time to catch up on magazines, cook if there’s a chance, or organize my wardrobe (OK – not exactly taking time off!). I like to write and have a long-term project in the works…so you can also find me at the keyboard when the creativity strikes.
My guilty pleasure is… shopping of course! Even when I’m not on the hunt for a client, I’m still networking with storeowners and scouring the shelves researching what’s new and different. I grew up window shopping in big cities and staring at perfectly dressed mannequins, and I’ve never lost that desire to be the first to know what my options are.
I cannot live without… my MacBook. We are so lucky that technology is at our fingertips and that businesses today can be so mobile. I love that I can work on my website, quickly pull up a Pinterest board for a client or even brainstorm a presentation so immediately and on-the-go. I can’t imagine life without it.
Advice I would give to someone trying to figure out their personal style is…Don’t worry so much about what others are doing or saying. Personal style is about feeling comfortable with yourself, taking risks when the time is right, and finding things that work on your body. There are so many bloggers, celebrities and fashion leaders out there to set the pace, but it’s easy to feel intimidated and lost in what might work for your lifestyle. Know your budget, embrace what you like and be true to your personality. And when in doubt…call me!
Images Credit: Katie Rounds, Round Lens Photography