Last winter whilst attending networking events a name kept cropping up; Karen Lowe. Every time I met someone new they would say to me; "do you know Karen Lowe? You two should meet, I think you'd really get on." A few weeks passed and it kept happening. It was one of those times where I realised that sitting in my comfort zone was making me miss out on meeting some extraordinary people, so got brave and sent Karen a message to say hi. We hit it off right away - finally meeting in person at an event where Karen was a guest speaker, I ended up hogging Karen for the whole time she wasn't on stage talking about all things style, handbags and confidence, we got on like long lost friends!
To introduce you, Karen is an Image Consultant & Personal Stylist. Passionate about helping women be the very best they can be by looking, and feeling amazing - she is also amazing at delivering this information from the stage to a room full of women. She helps women of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds gain confidence in the way they look by showing them how to dress stylishly and effortlessly, from their own wardrobes. Karens clients range from age 14 to 74, from stay-at-home mums to headteachers to surgeons - she really helps women to put the fun and enjoyment back into getting dressed!
Last year Karen was a finalist in the Natwest Business Mother of the Year awards 2014. She also writes a regular fashion column for a local magazine, has featured on various radio stations including BBC Radio Bristol and Heart FM and has her my own fashion feature called 'The Lowe Down' on a local TV channel, Made in Bristol. Karen is also the Style Expert for an online weight loss programme called Vavista and has worked at Bristol Fashion Week for the last 3 years.
On top of all this, she is also mum to an amazing 8 year old daughter and one of the most wonderfully enthusiastic, positive and gorgeous women you could ever wish to meet. A true #BadassBusinessBabe.
Karen, it’s lovely to have you here to answer some questions about your life as a business owner, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat today, how are you?
I’m very well thanks! I’ve had a lovely holiday off with my daughter visiting my parents in Liverpool and then we had friends from London staying with us for a couple of days, so I feel well rested and energized for my busy week ahead. I’m so glad you are feeling relaxed, rested and ready to go. As a badass business babe, it can be hard to switch off, there is always more to do, right?! What is your favourite way to get away and relax? One of my favourite things to do to switch off is to go skiing – an expensive way to disconnect I know, but there is something about being high up in the mountains surrounded by stunning scenery and feeling on top of the world that allows my work thoughts to drift away. Focusing on not falling over helps too! I also love camping at it’s most basic level – no blow up mattresses for us! Removing myself from everyday realities and comforts is a fun way of connecting with yourself and the environment and it’s much harder to sit on a rug on the ground with your laptop and work, especially when there’s nowhere to recharge your technology – I love it! On a daily basis having a gorgeous but slightly bonkers 8 year old daughter helps me to forget the ‘to-do list’ and focus on something other than work. Sometimes it’s difficult to get the balance. I also keep saying I’m going to start running… maybe when the summer comes… famous last words! I love that you love skiing - I spent 6 winters living in the mountains and totally know where you are coming from. I could have stayed forever, but I felt something drawing me to start my own business so came back to England to set it all in motion. When you decided to start your own business, how did you know it was the right time? To be honest, I didn’t! There was a lot going on in my life having just moved from London (after 14 years) with my family and leaving behind my good friends and a lovely community, to a city which I didn’t know very well and also didn’t know anyone. It wasn’t a completely welcome move for me, so I didn’t settle too well at first and missed what I had left behind. (I completely love Bristol now though and wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else!) We were also in the process of totally renovating our house, which was a full time job (thankfully we weren’t living in it at the time, but it overtook our lives and every conversation I had with my husband became house related which over a while drove me mad! Talking about radiator valves, light switch positioning, how many plug sockets and where to place them doesn’t exactly float my boat!) [caption id="attachment_711" align="alignnone" width="660"] Set of light colored dresses on a wooden hangers[/caption] My daughter was starting full time school and to top it all off I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant and then sadly had a miscarriage. There was a lot to deal with, but in the past I’ve had amazing opportunities that I’ve allowed to pass me by due to a fear of failure or rejection but I didn’t want that to happen this time and I got fed up with my inner voices telling me I couldn’t do something and so decided to change my thought processes. Image consultancy was something I was passionate about and knew I could be really good at, I didn’t want fear to hold me back again so I made a very conscious decision and had a strict conversation with myself (I had many of those over the months I set up my business) that I could achieve anything I wanted if I believed in it and worked hard to make it happen. So I just went for it and every time I felt fear creep in, I challenged myself to overcome it – what’s the worst that can happen, right? In a way, not knowing anyone in Bristol forced me to get out there and connect and approach businesses/people and I’m so glad I found that inner strength to keep going because I love my job and I love the women I help and if I let my situation and those demons take over I might still be pondering “what if?” That is such an amazing way to use fear to your advantage. I believe that if it was somehow taught in schools, we would live in a very different world. What would you say to your 18 year old self if you could get a message to her now? Oh my goodness, it would be so good for my older self to have a conversation with my younger self, as who knows what direction my life may have taken me, but equally, I’m a firm believer that everything happens at the right time. I would tell myself not to worry about what others think and don’t let one person’s opinion affect your self-confidence and self-belief. If you truly believe in yourself and your decisions and know that you’re doing the right thing for you, it will work and nobody will be able to knock you sideways. I recently saw something that said “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”. It really resonated. [caption id="attachment_712" align="alignnone" width="660"] Set of light colored dresses on a wooden hangers[/caption] That's actually one of my most favourite quotes, Karen, I find it really gets me though any failures quickly; the faster we move on and get over it, the faster we can get to the good stuff! What would you say is the most important thing in the world to you? I would have to say it’s my family – without them my life wouldn’t be half as much fun or as challenging or as amazing. My husband who I met on a bus in Spain (an opportunity I didn’t let pass me by!) is so supportive of my work and my daughter, well, she puts everything into perspective. It’s easy to get carried away and caught up in the details of my own life/work but all it takes is one random crazy comment from her and I’ll be uncontrollably laughing and that’s priceless to me. I absolutely love your balance work and life, I'm sure it's something you always need to work at, but you seem to be doing pretty well to me. I think I've got time for one last question, something to get to know the personality of Karen Lowe a little better: If you could choose one piece of artwork to own, what would you choose? Ooh, that’s a great question. It would have to be a painting from Neil Canning, I have loved his work for so long, it’s the colours, the textures and the compositions – just everything about his work sings to me. To wake up every day and see a piece of his artwork would be a wonderful, inspiring and energizing way to start each day. I agree, his work is inspiring. Thank you Karen for sharing with me today, it's been lovely to chat to you. Karen will be back later this week as she has agreed to let us take a look into her handbag, so see you then!
If you would like to connect with Karen, you can find her across the internet here;