How a personal stylist refashioned her business during the pandemic lockdown

Illustration of a personal stylist meeting with a client online
Northeastern University graduate Amy Salinger shifted her stylist business online during the pandemic. Illustration by Hannah Moore/Northeastern University

Personal stylist Amy Salinger had built a bustling business with a loyal customer base in New York City. She was just entering her most in-demand season when COVID-19 safety precautions cleared her busy schedule.

“Everything shut down, and all my clients promptly canceled their appointments for coronavirus-related reasons,” says Salinger, who earned her communications studies degree at Northeastern in 2002. “My work went off a cliff.”

Salinger was often booked solid from March to July, when her well-heeled Manhattan clientele’s calendars filled up with galas and events. She’d run across town to pick up a must-have gown, then bring it to the client for fittings. Suddenly, with nowhere to go, all of that was canceled.

Amy Salinger, who earned her communications studies degree at Northeastern University, started her personal stylist business in New York City 15 years ago. She transitioned to online styling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo

The frantic hours and necessary legwork her job required had prompted Salinger to consider a change months before the quarantine, but upending a profitable business that she built from scratch left her hesitant.

“I had been wanting to get out of New York, but my business was really successful. Plus, I had all these clients that relied on me and expected in-person customer service,” she says. Salinger was “terrified” by her sudden lack of work, but the quarantine also gave her the freedom to craft a new business model that worked for her.

“I joke that I’m COVID-grateful, because for me it was a blessing in disguise. Normally, to implode a very successful business that one has built themselves, you know, that’s crazy,” she says.

Salinger left Manhattan and moved in with her brother and his family in Rhode Island. She hired a business coach and re-examined her thriving service, which at that point had very few online customers.

“I had an online presence, but nothing was cohesive. It had always annoyed me. I was a person who knew how to run a business and knew what I wanted my marketing and branding to look like, but I still had this mishmash of things,” says Salinger.

“This was a chance to tear it all down and rebuild it from the foundation up, knowing exactly how I wanted it to look,” she says.

For the next six months, Salinger threw herself into building Style Method NYC, a virtual styling company that focuses on cohesive and versatile closets. One of her key tools is an online wardrobe that includes every item in her client’s closet. Salinger takes those virtual items and constructs an outfit or even puts together a vacation wardrobe depending on the client’s needs.

“This whole week I’m doing lookbooks for my clients,” says Salinger. “I just finished doing all of their shopping online, and then we’ll do a video fitting session. I upload all of the items they decided to keep so we can add it to what they already own.”

That means Salinger can put together an outfit for her client no matter where she or the client is.

“They can literally just message me and be like, ‘Oh my God, I have this big party to go to this weekend and I have no idea what to wear,’ and I’m like, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll throw together something and I’ll let you know when it’s done.’”

Salinger has since moved to Rhode Island, and she’s thrilled to decorate her spacious condo—something she wasn’t able to do in her small New York City apartment.

“I couldn’t have done this pre-pandemic because my clients wouldn’t have been open to that. But when the world goes virtual and it becomes the norm to work via video chat, it’s amazing how people’s minds open up, and I was able to build a whole different platform because of that,” she says.

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