In the age of self-care and selfies, nothing about presentation is simple. Styling yourself is a fine balance of many necessary moving parts. These include – approaching your body type with kindness and consideration (whatever shape you’re in), being occasion-compliant and trend-aware (but maintaining your signature look), while looking like a million bucks (because you’re worth it!). Throw in a restrictive budget and dressing well suddenly becomes a daunting task, even more so if you’ve been through a crisis or a major life change like having a baby or starting a new job.
Rupa Bodhani, founder of Rue Belle, recognised this conundrum and wanted to offer a slightly different personal styling service. Rupa empowers women with life coaching while helping them crack the code to their most authentic look. All of this acknowledges that dressing is often emotional and when done right, confidence is the reward.
Name: Rupa Bodhani
Location: London, UK
Current title | Company: Founder | Rue Belle
Education: BSc in Fashion Buying for Retail, Manchester Metropolitan University
Social media pages: Instagram: @ruebelle_london | Facebook: @ruebellelondon | Twitter: @Rups86
On Her Route into Fashion
From a young age, I have worked in fashion in some shape or form. I worked on the shop floor for a luxury boutique in my early years and all the way through university. After I graduated I had various head office jobs in Fashion, including at Harvey Nichols, Luella, and Selfridges. This led me to a Buying role at Topshop where I spent nearly 6 years working up the ladder.
Rue Belle Is…
You might call it a life-concierge business; it aims to work from the inside out. I help women to connect their body and mind and improve how they see and think about themselves. It’s about helping women to look and feel great even when time is not on their side and they have many responsibilities. It’s about creating a wardrobe that fits their needs, life, and personality – without breaking the bank. Rather than vanity, Rue Belle is about self-preservation.
On Her Motivation to Start Rue Belle
It came from working on my own self-development and getting coaching for myself. I realised what an effective tool it was in helping me move forward in my life, and I wanted to do the same for other women. Naturally, when you’re on a mission you star where you are, which is Fashion for me. I realised, how little meaningful, personal, tailored advice there is for regular women. I wanted to change this.
Overcoming The Challenge of Anxiety in Style And Spirit
Coaching helped me to set the wheels in motion to leave my job so I could do a bit of soul searching. I was fortunate enough to be able to take off and go travelling for 6 months. I spent a lot of that time in India which is a very spiritual place. It’s cliché. I went. I meditated. I walked a lot and worked on figuring out what I really wanted. I can honestly say that going away and soul searching was the best thing I could have done. It really did transform my life. Overcoming anxiety has been a big part of my journey. Learning to deal with it is an ongoing thing, I think many people suffer from it, and it’s about learning how to manage it. I now meditate everyday (give or take), this has helped me find a calm place in my mind, so when I am getting anxious I can focus my attention on the now. Life will always bring about its challenges, but now I feel better equipped to handle them.
On Her First Lesson in Business
Be prepared to shift your assumptions. When I started, my early clients all had one thing in common – they were all mothers, with similar worries and problems. Where I went into business with a general concern to help women, I soon realised there was a real gap in the market for mothers. Their lifestyle, mindset and body changes and they are just meant to adapt. Their family becomes their main priority and the time spent on themselves is almost zero. I wanted to ensure Rue Belle encourages mothers to spend a little bit more time on themselves, hopefully resulting in long term benefits. By helping them adjust their wardrobes so it is more functional and wearable, with clothing they like and that fits them, they are able to get dressed in just 10 minutes and feel great. That became a huge part of Rue Belle’s mission.
On The Difficulty of Bringing an Idea to Life
It’s been a journey of self-discovery I think. I learnt a lot while I was doing my Coaching Diploma, which has set me up with the knowledge on how to coach and how important mindset is. Beyond my work experience in Fashion, I also did a styling course at London College of Fashion, this better equipped me to style women one-to-one. I have enjoyed the process, but I can’t say it’s been easy! It is still a huge learning curve. I will always be learning and hopefully improving to make the business better. For it to grow I need to keep working on my own self-development. It is extremely rewarding though and makes it worthwhile when things feel hard.
Combining the Wellness Aspect of Confidence Coaching with a Styling Service
I have started a workshop called Mind the Dress Code, it’s a psychological look at how clothing can impact how we feel. This combines some coaching tools, for example how we negatively speak to ourselves and what actions we can take to change these habits and move your focuses from negative to positive. I also talk about the importance of self care and even a bit about its history and theories that explain why it’s important to consider our dress code.
With my one-to-one services, although coaching and personal styling are done separately I use a lot of my coaching skills when styling, creating as much positivity as possible and helping women feel empowered and enjoy a positive self-image.
The Average Day at Rue Belle
My days tend to vary. Some days I have clients, which tends to take between 2-5 hours of the day. When I don’t have clients I work on reading, doing research, checking ‘New In Store’, checking blogs, and working on my marketing (which is still a minefield to me), and writing blog posts. I attend networking events maybe once a week and also go to workshops to increase my knowledge and help me stay in touch with what people are doing.
I am also working as a commercial stylist while my business grows, working on shoots for TV commercials, store campaigns and ecommerce. This helps me pay my bills! For me, it’s great that my days are varied. No two days are the same!
The Greatest Highlight and Challenge in Business
The highlights are seeing women benefit from this service and it adding value to their lives, it’s a lovely feeling knowing I have helped them in some small way. The biggest challenge is working from home. It can be isolating on the days I don’t have clients. Many entrepreneurs will relate. I do miss the buzz of an office and am aiming to be in a co-working space in a few months.
On the Reality of Entrepreneurship
You never quite realise what you are capable of and you also figure out quite quickly what things you are good at and not so good at. I love the people part of my business, working with the clients, networking and workshops. I think the marketing and more administrative tasks are still things I want to grow to love as they are a big part of my business being successful.
On Her Vision for the Growth of Her Business
I want to take Rue Belle into charities where I can work with women, helping to build them up after traumas like abuse, illness, or homelessness. I want to create a space where I can coach these women and offer advice on how they can move forward and create a better view of themselves. This is something I am currently working on. I also want to be doing more workshops and talks across corporations and for women’s groups.
Her Practical Advice for Women Combining Their Natural Gifts with Their Professional Skills
I would suggest to start in a safe environment, think about finding an evening a week or a weekend to pursue your hobby/natural gift. Learn the craft and everything you can about it, then think about if it is viable to start a business from it. There is a testimonial on my website saying I am “made for this job and turning people’s lives around!” That feels so good. It’s what every entrepreneur believes about themselves and their idea, the risk is taking this belief without being mindful of reality. You have bills. I would suggest keeping your 9-5 going until things have picked up and then slowly filter out that job. In my case this is something I wish I had done, it causes unnecessary stress having to worry about how to pay the bills and start a business, it alleviates one problem if you know you have a paycheck coming at the end of the month. I would say go for it, if you don’t try you will never know.#2
A Parting Gift: Her Top 3 Tips for Finding Your Personal Style
#1 Knowing the areas of your body you like
Play to these and show them off. Whether it’s your shoulders with a sleeveless top or your legs with skinny jeans and skirts. We all have parts of our body that we do like, so think about ways you can show them off.
Think about the colours you usually wear, are they mostly black/grey and white? If so think about adding pops of colour. It can be as simple as a necklace or a pair of earrings, or an accessory like a bright scarf or bag, even just a touch of lipstick. This small burst of colour will brighten you and your complexion.
#3 Be comfortable and wear your size
Find out and wear your correct size, if you are not comfortable it shows. Many women keep and wear clothes that are the wrong size, slightly too big or small. This is never flattering. It’s important to make sure your fabrics are skimming the body, nothing that clings or pulls.
Visit Rue Belle to learn more about their services or to book a session for yourself or your company.
Written by Noma Humphrey