Sally-Ann Moffat Talks Fashion, Happiness, and Doing What You Love

Friday May 9 2014
by Liz

Sally-Ann Moffat is a New Zealand stylist who works with people to help them make the most out of their wardrobes by teaching them how to style themselves, and ultimately feel more confident. Sally-Ann has worked in almost all areas of the fashion industry: a model, fashion buyer, retailer, fashion show organiser, stylist, vlogger, blogger, MC, and host, it’s safe to say that she knows her stuff - and has picked up tonnes of tips and tricks along the way. “Basically I get to shop for a living, or take other people shopping and share my passion for fashion. I think it is the most fun you can have in public! I absolutely love what I do. (and I love cats).” Gotta love her.

Liz: You’ve worked in so many different areas of the fashion industry! How would you describe the fashion industry in New Zealand?

Sally-Ann: The fashion industry in NZ is small. It’s small because our population base is small. Four million people can only support so much and I think aspiring NZ designers forget this sometimes and get caught up in the lure of glitz and glamour.

Liz: Although small, it’s bursting with talent. Do you have a favourite Kiwi designer, or someone you just keep going back to?

Sally-Ann: I don’t tend to have a favourite. As seasons change, designers change, silhouettes and fashions change, plus I need to change too. NZ designers in my wardrobe include the usual suspects like Zambesi, Karen Walker, Andrea Moore, Pearl, Kylee Davis, Trelise Cooper, World, Jimmy D, Kate Sylvester, with some high street classics in the mix like Max, Storm, and Glassons, next to a huge amount of vintage. I am a big fan of Kiwi jewellery designers like Tory & Ko, Alison Blain, and Guthrie & Steele. I think in jewellery you are investing in stylish pieces that last a lifetime and never ever go out of fashion.

Liz: How do you find being a woman in business? Do you have any advice for girls wanting to be self-employed?

Sally-Ann: Decide what you love to do and start moving towards doing that full-time. Let time take time because you can’t beat experience and there is no short-cut to it. I did a lot of styling for fun and for free, before I even knew there was a word for it and before I knew you could get paid to do it. I do lots of work with not-for-profits, as it's good to give back and because it feels good to help others for rewards other than financial ones.

Liz: You also run workshops in schools for teens on style and self-esteem. Could you tell me a little about the kinds of things you cover in those workshops?

Sally-Ann: I give teens simple tools to better equip them with the wisdom and courage to be themselves, and more importantly to like themselves. We blame the media and other people for our self-esteem issues, but really building self-esteem starts within, and I teach them how to start. This is all wrapped up in a talk about fashion/style and what the latest trends are, so it's fun and informative.  I talk with teens about subjects I wish someone had talked to me about when I was a gangly unhappy teen.

Liz: That sounds really interesting, how do you think it has helped the teens you’ve worked with?

Sally-Ann: It has helped them better understand things; from which dress to pick for their senior formal, to what career path to choose, to how to be a better friend. I know it helps because I get e-mails and Facebook comments from kids I have worked with recalling something I had said and applying it in their daily life. It is very rewarding to be able to help others.

Liz: You’ve already had such success in your industry, what are your goals for the future?

Sally-Ann: My goal is quite simple - to live a long, happy, helpful, and meaningful life. Doing what I do helps with the happy, helpful and meaningful part!

Liz: What are the best parts of your job?

Sally-Ann: The hugs. My personal clients give me hugs after our one-on-one wardrobe or retail therapy sessions. I love that. I also still get so excited that I get paid to do what I love.

Liz: You’re very lucky! There must be some tough parts of your job though?

Sally-Ann: Saying no. I’m not superwoman and sometimes I have to say no to job offers so that I don’t spread myself too thin and that is not easy for me to do.

Liz: Could you describe your biggest struggle so far, and how you overcame it?

Sally-Ann: My biggest struggle has been learning to wave my own flag. I am not a natural self-promoter, but when you are self-employed you have to get over that. I prefer to let my work speak for itself and that way businesses and individuals are attracted to my substance as well as to my style. Repeat customers and professional referrals are an indication that I am getting it right.

Liz: You spend your time styling other people, but how would you describe your own personal style?

Sally-Ann: My personal style is vintage aficionado meets fashion addict meets anything goes!

Liz: I love that! What is it about vintage garments and style that you are drawn to?

Sally-Ann: The quality, the workmanship, the originality, the exclusivity and the fact that the item had a life before me and will have a life long after I am gone. I also love that recycled clothing is good for the planet.

Liz: Speaking of vintage, you also write ‘The Vintage Teenager’ blog. Tell us a bit about that.

Sally-Ann: ‘The vintage teenager’ phrase is about me laughing at myself that I am not 18 years old anymore, I am growing older, but I am not growing up and my style reflects that. I think having this blog when I am 88 will be hilarious (if blogs still exist then) because I’m not going to stop loving fashion and style because I am ‘retired’, how would you retire from loving beautiful things?

Liz: Social media is now a part of almost every industry; do you find social media platforms helpful to your job?

Sally-Ann: Social media is immensely helpful and immensely fun, plus I love all the cat videos.

Liz: Who do you follow for fashion inspiration?

Sally-Ann: I follow fashion magazines, bloggers, designers, and famous people/brands who I admire; like PINK and Alexander McQueen, Harpers Bazaar - and naturally because I love cats I follow Karl Lagerfeld’s muse, his cat, Choupette.

Liz: Do you have anything special on your wish list this season?

Sally-Ann: I have just come back to Wellington from iDFWXV and I fell in love with Carlson dresses. I have one in my wardrobe – but I think it is lonely.

Liz: What is the one piece in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without?

Sally-Ann: My original vintage Texan cowboy boots. They make me smile, they go with everything and are soooo comfortable to wear.

Liz: They sound amazing! Do you have any words of advice to younger girls looking to find their own personal style?

Sally-Ann: Let it evolve naturally and always be true to yourself. That is the path to happiness. That and diamonds. Diamonds are happiness in a stone. But buy your own, that makes them so much more special.

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