Tracy Petrucci: Small Business Spotlight: Le Red Balloon

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Small Business Spotlight: Le Red Balloon

Skyler McCurine: “Oh cuuuute outfit”
Tracy Petrucci: “REALLY?? No. I always feel so blah.”

This is how it started. Skyler from Le Red Balloon was walking past my office in San Diego when she stopped to compliment my look. I felt a little disheveled and lazy in my appearance, but Skyler was having none of that. In fact, by the end of our conversation she volunteered to come to my house, (bottle of champagne in hand) and offered to go through my closet with me.

I was SCARED. My closet? Woah mama. Maybe I was embarrassed? Or ashamed at what kind of mess of junky clothes she might find. I was nervous, but she was so generous I had to at least take her up on the offer.

I had NO idea how revolutionary this experience would turn out to be. After a few brief questions about where I want to go in life and how I describe my style, Skyler zipped around pulling this and that from my closet...putting together outfits, accessories, shoes and scarves… it was pure genius
"I had NO idea how revolutionary this experience would turn out to be."

She took a picture of me in each outfit so that I could remember each detail. I loved EVERY SINGLE thing she put together. She got really creative, avoided the things I always wear, and pulled out fun prints, patterns, and belts that I forgot existed in the back of my closet. I didn’t realize that buried within my own clothes were such cute outfits, nor could I have felt that good about myself without her help. She pegged my style preference right away, and the looks were spot on with how I like to represent myself.

Over the past few weeks since our consultation, I am proud to say I’ve worn the outfits she created multiple times over. Not only that, I’ve been inspired to take a few moments longer when I get ready, to tuck in my shirt or put on some earrings before I leave the house. I look and feel so much better since she spent that time in my closet. - Tracy

 "I look and feel so much better since she spent that time in my closet." 

 Article by Leesa King

Ladies, and Gentlemen... There's a new trend in town.

These days fashion is not all about fitting in to the crowd. It's not about comparing yourself to other women, men, friends, or coworkers.  It's about fitting into yourself as a whole creative being, and finding out exactly what makes you feel beautiful, powerful, confident, and exceptional. 

This month, Tracy and I are so excited to present Skyler McCurine, owner and founder of Le Red Balloon, who has spearheaded the theory of being fabulous in your own skin, and maybe more importantly, in your own clothes.  No expensive shopping trip here, just a closet transformation that will have you marching out of your front door looking and feeling like a diva. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Skyler about her business and marketing experiences, and summarized a bit about how she got to where she is now in her dream career, helping people of all ages and sizes to feel more confident, and to look great in what they already own.

"My recent experience with Skyler of Le Red Balloon was nothing short of transformative. She spent some time first getting to know more about me, my style/tastes, and my goals for the consultation. Having recently changed careers, I'm now in a very visible role, and need to communicate both professionalism and warmth. I need comfort, since I am traveling and on my feet, but I also I want my clothes to better reflect the artsy and quirky parts of myself. Oh, and I wanted to do all this without buying new clothes! I thought I was asking the impossible, but Skyler read me and my needs perfectly, and totally nailed it. In a matter of minutes, she'd put together about twenty gorgeous ensembles, from items whose value I had totally lost sight of." 
-Recent Le Red Balloon Client

Leesa: First, I have to tell you how much I absolutely love your website and your message. It is both inviting and enchanting, and your story makes me feel like I've known you for decades. When working so intimately with people, especially people who may feel vulnerable or embarrassed about their personal wardrobe or body image, what tactics have you found to be most helpful in making your clients feel comfortable and excited about their consultation with you? 

Skyler: It’s imperative that my clients know from the jump that I am “safe”, and that their insecurities, vulnerabilities, joys, and also challenges are within my care.  I treat them tenderly and share personal experiences and struggles with my own body and closet to demonstrate that there’s nothing “wrong" with them for feeling apprehensive.  It is completely normal for people to feel nervous or worried about their wardrobe, image, body, or goals, and, in fact, I share information with all of my clients about how the media plays a role in making us feel that way.  I always use humor to easy worry and to show that I am a person with whom they can have fun.  I don’t judge my clients. That is not my place, nor anyone’s.  Letting your clients know that up front enables them to focus on enjoying the experience.
L: In growing your business . . .  from the first encounter you had with the red balloons to now, being featured on TEDx, and considered "The Oprah of Personal Style", what marketing techniques, business skills, and professional connections did you adopt along the way?  
S: I have learned that integrity and thoughtfulness go a long way.  Many of my professional opportunities have come because I have truly listened, shared deeply, and taken the time to remind others why they are special.  I have made myself a resource, a well of encouragement, and people learn my caliber of person that way.  I am not a “make it rain business cards” kind of person; I prefer to have a handful of rich conversation that is rooted in mutual support vs. pushing my own agenda.  I send handwritten cards to everyone I connect with.  If I have the privilege of a real conversation, learning about a life, mission, purpose, or work, I send a handwritten card to that person.  I make a note to check on people, see how projects are going, how wardrobes are building, and how myself and Le Red Balloon may be of service.

L: You are a wonderful advocate of such a meaningful message. I'm wondering what challenges you face (if any) to promote it and empower people to feel comfortable in who they are.
S: I have committed my life to redefining the look of leadership and standard of beauty in America.  I am one woman working against years of sexism, ageism, and other constructions that distract deserving and beautiful people from seeing their own worth, value, and beauty.  I am working against media conglomerates and negative self talk that consumes my clients' mental space.  My job is to raise their thinking from the worry of their appearance to the amazing work they do, their contributions, strengths, and accomplishments. 
" job is to raise their thinking from the worry of their appearance to the amazing work they do, their contributions, strengths, and accomplishments."

L: Do you incorporate your services into the community, such as hosting group parties, or giving lectures at seminars? If no, do you see yourself including these into your business development?
S: Service is strategically woven into my business.  Unwanted or unused clothing from my clients' closets is donated to the Monarch School.  I host events every quarter and raise money, resources, and toiletries, for various charities and organizations.  Speaking is a service that I offer, and I speak at many organizations in San Diego, as well as non-profits, networking groups, and schools.  I also serve as a TV commentator on FOX 5 and do fashion segments, everything from back to school segments to using fashion as a form of empowerment.
L: Your business model promotes sustainability in its efforts to keep the clothes that people already own in their closets . . . basically what I mean is that you're not taking people out to a department store and telling them what they should be buying, instead you shape the way they already understand themselves via their fashion image, into a more productive and appropriate wardrobe for what fits them best. I imagine people generally respond very well to this . . . could you share a little bit about that experience? (Are people relieved when they realize they don't need to buy a bunch of new clothes to reinvent their whole wardrobe?)
S: Yes!  We've all had that feeling of having a closet filled with “stuff” yet "nothing to wear."  That shouldn’t be the case.  It’s about re-working what you have.  I bring a creative and fresh perspective to one’s wardrobe and give my clients “permission” to experiment in ways they hadn’t thought possible.  Fashion sadly becomes something regulated by restrictions (I can only wear certain colors, I only wear black, I can’t wear this type of slack, I don’t wear dresses, etc.)  I remind my clients that style is a form of self expression, don’t think about the rules and think about what brings you joy. What makes you feel beautiful, powerful, and fabulous? THAT needs to be the priority.  My clients are always amazed by how many wardrobe combinations are possible while only using a fraction of their closet.  They can see firsthand how versatile their wardrobe is and that by being creative they can save money and lessen their carbon footprint! Bonus!
Skyler was recently invited to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit where they promoted her TEDx talk which you can watch for free here.  Follow her on Twitter here and visit her Website here.
Thanks for all of your wonderful words, Skyler!
And a special Thanks to Tracy Petrucci for her intro and experience with Le Red Balloon.  
Until next time,
Leesa King
Writer | Photographer

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