Community//

“Kindness and responsibility.” With Tyler Gallagher & Vanessa Valiente

Kindness and responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions and be kind to one another. Whenever you do something, ask yourself, is it kind? Or how can you do this thing in a kind way? We are not perfect, we are going to mess up. And that’s okay. Just always go back to kindness. Never quit […]

Kindness and responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions and be kind to one another. Whenever you do something, ask yourself, is it kind? Or how can you do this thing in a kind way? We are not perfect, we are going to mess up. And that’s okay. Just always go back to kindness. Never quit the battle to be more kind. You can be honest, and you can have confrontation with kindness. Everything can involve kindness.


As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vanessa Valiente.

Vanessa Valiente is San Diego’s #1 Personal Stylist and creator of V-Style, the first and longest standing fashion blog in America’s finest city (Est. 2007). She has worked with numerous celebrities such as Tony Hawk and Bo Derek, and has been voted a “Top Stylist” by Modern Luxury and FINE magazine. Vanessa has also been featured in The Washington Post, National Geographic, Self magazine and Refinery 29.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Iinitially started out with a communications degree, but found the first few classes to be absurd. We basically watched a lot of commercials and looked at ads. My brother went to the same college and was a film degree. He started a public access show on the UCSD campus and invited me to act, help out, write a few skits and do some light costume design. I felt really confused by jobs and work, but I understood everything that needed to be done to make this silly show. At the same time I realized that all jobs are basically a “business”, so I changed my degree to Costume Design for television and film with a minor in business marketing. Right out of college, I got a job as a costumer on television shows. Between shows I started doing personal styling. After a few years, personal styling took over my schedule and my fashion blog, V-Style, became a huge part of my work. Now I have a team of six.

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?

God, there were so many challenges. I started my personal styling business right before the recession. It was tough to get clients. The lesson I learned early was never get greedy or arrogant. Every now and then I feel the success of my business breed the greed, but I always stop and say to myself, “It can all be taken away, just like that.”

What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?

First of all I love people more than fashion. This is key to the success of a personal stylist. I also follow a strict etiquette and adhere to a standard of professionalism not all stylists do. For instance, I never speak of myself to a client, unless it is relevant to the task at hand or to make them feel better about something. Even when they directly ask about me, I answer very briefly. Last, and most important, efficiency is my ethos. I am there to do a job and get out. I charge by the hour and most my clients hate dealing with clothing — that’s why they hired me — so my clients appreciate this beyond words. I have refined my process and my service so that I am ready for anything and as transparent as possible.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.

One, I wish someone told to be more transparent. Any issue I had with a client in the beginning it was because I didn’t communicate enough about how the service was going to go or the anticipated cost over all. I had to learn this the hard way.

Two, I wish someone had told me how important social media was going to be.

Three, I wish someone had told me that change is constant, and you must be ready for it. You must grow and evolve your business with people, the economy and so on. There are businesses still around today from fifty years ago, but they changed with the times. Most business do not change with the times.

Four, I wish someone had told me to track EVERYTHING and really look at the data. Data tells you everything. Website data, bookings, client stats, financials — everything.

Five, I wish someone had told me to invest more in conferences. I am only just now starting to go to conferences I should have been going to years ago.

What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Pay attention to what you do when you feel good, and what you are doing when you feel overwhelmed. It took me 13 years to finally get my work load right. It’s because I wasn’t tracking my needs in correlation to the needs of the business. There is a balance there. Also, hire AMAZING people. More importantly, hire AMAZING people with incredible work ethic before you need them, but not before you can afford them.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I know you’ve asked for one person, but there are a handful I’d like to mention. My brother, Dominic Valiente, and my college boyfriend, Justin Petersen, are the ones that gave me the inspiration and more importantly, the courage to change my college degree and therefore change the path for the rest of my life. Dominic also recommended me to the production company, Stu Segal, that gave me my first TV job. My Mom, Gwendolyn Valiente, is the only business owner I knew when I started my personal styling business. She is the one that showed me it could be done. Andrea Kane is the one who told me to start a blog in 2007. Without her, there would be no V-Style. Lastly, I cannot emphasize enough how much my editor, Katie Watkins has helped elevate V-Style. She is my hero.

What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?

Professionally, my goal is for V-Style to be a household name in the fashion blogosphere. Personally, my big picture goal is to have a well rounded life filled with joy, but, obviously, large goals are made up of small pieces. The small piece I am working on right now is to cultivate more play in my lifestyle. It’s been interesting trying to figure out what play time is for me, who is willing to play with me, and how to fit it into my schedule, but I am doing it! My absolute favorite activity is playing catch at sunset on the beach. I am officially obsessed. If I miss a week I feel sad. I also love jigsaw puzzles and riding my bike anywhere and everywhere. It has been a wonderful lifestyle change. I am really feeling the play.

What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?

I honestly don’t think I am important enough to leave a legacy. But I hope my time on earth as a personal stylist helps people shop less, but better.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!

Kindness and responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions and be kind to one another. Whenever you do something, ask yourself, is it kind? Or how can you do this thing in a kind way? We are not perfect, we are going to mess up. And that’s okay. Just always go back to kindness. Never quit the battle to be more kind. You can be honest, and you can have confrontation with kindness. Everything can involve kindness.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Find me on all Social Media @vstyleblog

Sign up for my Monthly Newsletter HERE.

facebook.com/vstyleblog

twitter.com/vstyleblog

instagram.com/vstyleblog

https://www.youtube.com/user/VanessaValiente

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