It was perhaps one of the most gorgeous days of fall to date and I just grabbed a table along the back wall of the Greenline coffee shop on Baltimore Avenue. Not more than two minutes after of my texting “Here!” in walks the man of the hour, Charles Gregory of House of Charles Gregory. He casually looked over the room as to not seem too obvious that he is there to meet someone. He sees me at the small table for two in the back and smiles. I walk over and we order tea, Earl Grey for him, Green with Jasmine for me. We take a seat at the table I selected and begin catching up. We are friends first.
After I share about my sister and new nephew and challenges of the 9-5 and he shares about new clients and his work with kids we get down to business. He laughs at the idea of being interviewed about House of Charles Gregory, but indulges me nonetheless.
Phreedum: Who are you in 5 words?
CG: Oh gosh, I don’t know. I think I need more than that.
He pauses and starts to count on his fingers.
CG: Okay, got it. I am ambition redefined.
Phreedum: And you didn’t even need 5 words.
CG: I know right.
Phreedum: So how exactly did you use this ambition and get started as a stylist and image consultant?
CG: I started designing in undergrad at Temple University. Most of my designs were couture pieces. But a lot of times people would ask me how to wear the item I designed or something they saw and wanted to wear, or something they bought and knew they weren’t wearing well. So I started to shift from designing to wardrobe styling. In 2006 a friend of mine and the Editor in Chief of Avenue Report magazine asked me to assist her fashion director on a photo shoot for the first issue. I was definitely down to help, but the day before the shoot, the fashion director quit. She just said she couldn’t do it. So, I was asked to take over. I made a few phone calls to friends, used some of my own items, and was offered the position of fashion director for the magazine. Someone else’s can’t became my can.
Phreedum: What has been your biggest success so far?
CG: Being recognized and respected as a legitimate stylist and image consultant by my peers. And, when my client’s are pleased.
Phreedum: happy clients help for sure. What has been the biggest lesson learned so far?
CG: Be humble. Everything isn’t about money. Learn from your past and build up your knowledge bank. A part of that learning should include swallowing your pride. It is easy to get blackballed in this field. I’ve learned to appreciate opportunity and exposure. The opportunity with Avenue Report magazine for example, really helped my portfolio and provided other opportunities for me.
Phreedum: How does your work as a stylist and image consultant change the lives of others?
CG: As an image consultant I take styling up a notch and really become a client’s coach. I help client’s understand how their appearance affects behavior and what it communicates about them. I help client’s use what they have to create the image they desire. People tend to underestimate how their image really impacts their behavior and happiness. When people finally have that “aha” moment, they get the connection between the two, I love it, and they are the better for it.
Phreedum: Who has been the most influential in allowing you to phreely pursue your career as a stylist and image consultant?
CG: Me and my clients. I am constantly pushing myself and staying on top of things. And my clients, especially Kindred (Kindred The Family Soul), trust me and encourage me to do what I do. They have given me full autonomy when it comes to styling them.
Phreedum: What has been the best advice you’ve ever received?
CG: Never give up and that the goal should be to be extraordinary. Steve Harvey once said “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary people is that extraordinary people do extra.” Giving 100% is average. Giving 120% is extra. I try to keep this in mind daily.
Phreedum: What has been your greatest sacrifice?
CG: Relationships and time. Well I guess time to dedicate to relationships. I don’t regret it however. But, I do hope to find someone who likes what I do and supports me as I do what I do.
Phreedum: What do you consider your greatest resource?
CG: My house. It’s where I do a lot of my work. It’s where I’ve done a lot of designing. It’s where I house the pieces I collect and use to style clients. Right now, with all that I have collected at my house, I could easily style 12 men in three different looks each.
Phreedum: What kind of legacy do you hope to leave?
CG: I’ve always had a dream to employ 100 of my own people. And by that I mean, at risk youth who weren’t supposed to go to and graduate from High School, let alone undergrad and grad school, but were supposed to get locked up. Those are the people I have always had a dream of employing because that was me. I just want to be able to give back.
Phreedum: What advice do you have for aspiring stylists and consultants?
CG: Don’t give up and ignore the “No.” I have a pretty big ego and it’s easy to blame yourself and have your ego bruised. But the reality is it’s not always about you and something you did or didn’t do. The “No” is not always about your skill, talent, or creativity, so don’t take it personal. Oh, and Keep hope alive.
To learn more about Charles Gregory and The House of Charles Gregory visit www.houseofcharlesgregory.com