Gail Morgan, 49, runs Study In Style, a training, supplies and mentoring company for existing and aspiring image consultants, personal stylists and personal shoppers. We find out what makes her tick...
Town where you live:
What are your business qualifications?
Geography degree. Attended a business start-up course through the Enterprise Allowance Scheme. Otherwise self-taught, plus worked with a series of coaches and mentors. Master Image Consultant, Master NLP Practitioner and MBTI Practitioner.
Do you think business leadership can be taught or is it something that comes from a natural instinct?
A bit of both – I think having a natural entrepreneurial spirit is vital when you work for yourself but you need to be open to new ideas and better ways of working – we never stop learning.
What is the name of your main business and what does it do?
Study In Style – a training, supplies and mentoring company for existing and aspiring image consultants, personal stylists and personal shoppers. The training courses are taught in the classroom or via DVD-based distance learning modules, so that people can train at their own pace and in their own time.
These courses are built on the back of my 19 years’ experience as an image consultant working one to one with clients.
I still love doing this work as it is incredibly rewarding to see the difference wearing the right clothes and accessories can make to people.
What was the turnover of your main business in the last reporting period?
Study In Style has only been trading for 11 months but after eight months turnover was £47,000.
Where would you like the business to be in 10 years time?
The aim is to have our own offices with a small support staff. We will have our own make-up brand and a standalone personal shopping agency. There will be a large network of consultants around the UK and internationally – we’ve already got consultants in Dubai, USA, Spain, Angola and France but I would like more so that I can travel to meet them all!
What positives can you extract from current economic conditions?
It has been tough to set up the business during the recession, especially trying to raise finance from the banks. However I have trained a number of consultants who have been made redundant or are under threat of redundancy – offering them the opportunity to start a new business and career that is flexible and fun that they may not have been brave enough to do if they hadn’t been pushed. Working part-time as a consultant is also proving popular with other people who want to bolster their full-time salary or pension pot. With my one to one clients, if they are looking for a new job I have been able to help them with their appearance to ensure that they always make the right first impression.
What motivates you to get up in the morning and go to work?
Apart from loving what I do because I know I can make a difference to other people and build their confidence, either as a one to one client or trainee consultant, my motivations are to help my children through university and give them a great start in the future and to allow me to travel more.
What is the most important thing in life and why?
Family – I have had fantastic support from my husband and our parents; also because having my children gave me the opportunity to start my own business and to be around them as they have grown up.
At what age do you aim to retire and what will you do after that point?
I don’t know if I’ll ever retire completely because I’ll always be interested in the image industry but I’ll probably look to slow down around 65 and possibly hand over the reigns to my daughter!
If you have a partner, what do they do:
Yes, he’s a quantity surveyor with a building contractor.
What is the most important thing you learned at school?
How to build rapport and be approachable – I went to four different secondary schools so I had to make friends quickly! This has been invaluable in what I do now because I have to gain people’s trust very quickly.
What extra subject should be placed on the curriculum?
Why our image is vital – because as humans we believe what we see and if you make the wrong first impression with someone it takes a long time for them to change their opinion about you.
Have you ever had to sack someone on the spot and why?
Not in my current position, but when I was a store manager yes, for being drunk at work.
What percentage of your success is inspiration?
About 50/50 but this has varied depending on where I’ve been in the development process. The inspiration comes from knowledge of the industry and a lot of imagination.
What percentage of your success is perspiration?
Again about 50/50 but at times over the past few months it has been nearer 100 per cent – with filming the DVDs, writing and editing the manuals, developing the website and marketing it all. After all the hard work I am now aiming to work smarter!
Who is your inspiration in business and why?
My dad because he started his own business 50 years ago and had a fantastic 20 years running an extremely successful forensic science consultancy before selling it on. He showed me how running a business and employing staff could be done with great skill and integrity.
What time do you get up on a working day?
How do you switch off and relax?
I like to be active – I enjoy Pilates, yoga, swimming and going to the gym as well as reading, eating out and travelling.
How do you measure business success?
The bottom line! But also the feedback that I get from happy clients and consultants.
What is your favourite piece of business jargon and why?
“If it’s to be, it’s up to me”.
What is the most pointless piece of red tape you’ve had to deal with?
The banks again and having to fill in numerous customs forms every time I import my make-up products from the USA.
Where does your confidence come from?
From the support of the people around me.
How do you ensure that people don’t go to sleep in meetings?
Give them plenty of coffee, or failing that get them up and moving about!