A Little About Me
My name is Ashleigh Graham, and I am a personal stylist based in Christchurch, New Zealand.
From the time I was very young I felt drawn to work in the fashion industry and with people.
My family immigrated to Perth from NZ when I was quite young and I lived the first few years at my grandmother’s house. She is an artist and had been a costumer designer back in the 70s for TVNZ. I spent my days drawing, painting, sewing and reading. She had a collection of books that were full of art, fashion and history. I would sit on the floor of her studio and get lost in her fashion history book. I was completely taken by all the elaborate ways that people used to dress and the amazing details of fashion from the ages.
I was always quite a happy and confident kid up until I started school. I found learning in a rigid school system very difficult and began to feel like there was something majorly wrong with me. For most of my childhood I wished that I could trade bodies with someone else. After school I loved to play dress ups; I longed for the confidence and feeling of value that came with role playing my favorite characters. Then I discovered fashion, and realized that dressing up doesn’t have to be limited to costumes!
So my love of costumes evolved into a lifelong love of clothes. I remember spending many holidays at my grandmother’s, sitting at her sewing machine and designing dresses, jerseys and pj’s. Around my 10th birthday my mum bought me the most amazing pair of jeans I had ever seen: purple glitter with shooting stars on the flares. My heart melted! I felt incredible and my confidence soared whenever I wore them. It was as though someone had made them just for me!
My mum always had a great eye for clothes as she was drawn to beautiful fabrics and cool designs. The only problem was that she had so much difficulty buying clothes for herself. Somehow the clothes she bought never quite looked right when she put them on, so I took this on as a personal challenge to help her create outfits. From about the age of 8, I would help my mum shop and lay outfits out on her bed while she was showering before going out. I would be so hopeful as she would try on my creation and would be so disappointed when it seemed to look better on the bed. I would empathize with her when she always looked at herself sadly in the mirror; I wanted so badly for her to feel happy with her appearance. Without knowing it at the time, helping her was beginning to shape me into the stylist I am today.
Although I have always expressed my creativity and personality through my style, I have had moments where my closet was full of clothing that felt totally meaningless to me, and I struggled to feel good wearing any of it. During these times I did some soul searching and experimented with different looks until I found myself and my style again. I think this is something that many of us go through. We are constantly evolving as people and, from what I’ve learnt, when our inner self doesn’t match our outward identity, there is imbalance. This limits our confidence, our opportunities and potential new people coming into our lives.
I firmly believe style is something that dwells within each of us. It is in our bones. It never leaves, we just get lost sometimes and have to go looking for it. Of course, our style evolves over time so you won’t catch me waltzing around in a pair of purple flared jeans with stars on them. Been there, done that! In saying that, the need for a WOW factor and interesting detail in a look has been forever ingrained in me from those beautiful, yet awful, jeans.
In 2014 I flew from Australia to beautiful Aotearoa for a working holiday and found work in a corporate suiting shop. When I realised how much satisfaction I got from helping people build incredible outfits, and their confidence, I instinctively knew that styling was the right path for me. Over the past 5 years, I have worked in high-end women’s and men’s fashion, corporate attire and luxury shoes. During this time I also studied personal styling, with a focus on colour theory, and body shape under the tutelage of my wonderful mentor, Chryssie Woodham, Director of Unique Style based in Christchurch, NZ.
I deeply love what I do and I aspire to help as many people as I can to feel good and accept themselves so we can pass on body positivity.
So if you’re finding shopping challenging, if your wardrobe doesn't light you up, if you feel like just wearing a bag over your head then now is the time to change. I welcome your emails, phone calls and Facebook messages. Whether you want to book a consultation, explore your options, or even just have a chat.
— Ashleigh Graham, Personal Stylist.