PM360 recently spoke to Rhonda Peebles, Executive Director, Head of Marketing, Dermatology, Novartis, about corporate styling.
PM360: Can you explain what corporate styling is?
Rhonda Peebles: The best way to explain it is that everyone has a word. And this word describes how they feel like they are—the word even shows up in how they dress, the way they decorate their house, the car they drive—they actually exude this word. And they may not even know it.
But I can’t pick it for them. The person has to tell me what their word is. And once people tell me, then I’ll step back and offer my advice on how they can better personify that word.
For instance, one woman told me that she was “kickass.” I went shopping with her and helped her to pick out an outfit. At the end of the day, she tried on a suit, and when she came out of the dressing room, she was a different person. I asked, how do you feel? She said, “Kickass.”
Well, what’s your one word?
Mine is cosmopolitan, which is really funny because I’m originally from Kentucky. So, it’s considered more the South, yet my look is probably more city.
How did you get started doing this?
It’s just a passion of my own. It’s something that I challenged myself to do, as in how can you still represent the person that you feel like you are in corporate America, where mostly everything is some kind of blouse or suit.
Do you have a sense of how many people you’ve done this for over the years?
Oh, gosh. I don’t know. But probably more than 50. One time I did it as I was moving from a 3,000-square-feet house into a place that was 1,300 square feet, but closer to the city. So, I had to purge my old clothes. I opened up my house to the neighborhood as sort of a boutique. People would come in there every night after work because word got around, and I sold every piece for $10. As people came in, I would ask them, “What’s your word?” And I would direct them in that word—show them how you could take off just a scarf and add a jacket, or add a cardigan or something, and that outfit could go from day to night, but you still are that word. I helped about 25 people just that week.
Have you ever followed up with people to see what kind of effect your corporate styling had on them?
Yes, for instance, the woman who I helped who said she felt “kickass” was giving a presentation to help her land a new job. The day after, she said the folks at the panel she was interviewing with commented on the new confidence she had, how great she looked, and how she was wearing confidence. She ended up getting the job, and she told me that I played a big role. She presented differently she said because she felt differently.