Meet Mary McGuigan – Founder of Corporate & Creative Image. Born and raised in Ireland, she grew up in a single-parent family as a very creative child. Her youthful days play a major in her pattern of thinking all the way through university. Despite critics telling her that it wasn’t a good time and that she should forget about it, she decided to start her journey right before the pandemic. Against the odds, she successfully built up a decent social media following, something which would eventually lead to her starting her own business.
A self-made stylist – she is as authentic as can be on her social media platforms. Embracing flaws, Honesty, Operating on a Client-First Approach, and Lack of Major Fashion Rules are her most important values.
Her business model built around honesty has earned her a substantial amount of respect from customers and clients.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Mary McGuigan: I am from Northern Ireland, I grew up in a single-parent family and as a child, I was always very creative however at the age of 11 that all changed. I started secondary school feeling like a failure for having failed the entrance exam into a grammar school, I felt like people would view me as stupid and I desperately tried to portray myself as the perfect academic student. I was given so much learning support but nobody really knew that I was so anxiety-ridden with fearing I’d be seen as stupid. I chose typical academic subjects i.e. maths and science and ignored my creative side. I also worked from when I was 11.
I always had dreams of running my own business but no idea what it is. This pattern of thinking continued all the way through university. When I had my first child I was a single parent and again I kept thinking of what people would think. I was obsessed with managing my finances which led me down the road of accountancy and also in my mind made me sound good. As my wedding and more children came along (4 in total to be exact) there was this constant niggling feeling that I wasn’t satisfied in my career anymore, I found myself moving between jobs more often and in 2019 I vowed to start looking for something more colorful and creative.
I embarked on numerous personal development courses where they would constantly ask what my passion was, what I really enjoyed and I said “I just really like Madonna, I’m just obsessed with how her image has evolved over the years’ ‘ but how could I start a business about Madonna? This led me down the road of studying image, developing my own at first, and the next thing you know I’d struck gold, and I was obsessed. I loved this feeling of accomplishment and being able to help people in the way that I felt comfortable doing and raising confidence levels.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Mary McGuigan: I started my journey right before the pandemic, everyone told me to forget about it. It wasn’t a good time to start a business but I never wanted to stop training and learning. It wasn’t just about turning it into a business that was interesting and useful to my own development. I built up a decent social following because I listened and gave as much value as I could so when things opened up people were prepared to pay for my services.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. What’s the worst advice you received?
Mary McGuigan: The worst advice I received was that you had to have specific qualifications to be an image consultant/personal stylist, this is simply not the case. I am self-made, I have chosen various life coaching, color, and marketing courses it just depends on what my clients and followers are really asking for. The only people that honestly care about my qualifications are other personal stylists/image consultants. I have an A-Level in Physics if that’s any good to anyone lol.
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Mary McGuigan: I don’t feel like I have been affected negatively at all. I think you have got to keep listening to the needs of your clients and be ready to adapt to that at all times. I have definitely structured my business so that it can operate online if need be but it’s nice to get out and see people and feel those fabrics again.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Mary McGuigan: I am not that pink, girly and perfect personal stylist. I am as authentic as I can be in my social media, I embrace all my flaws, I’m honest when I feel insecure about something which is mostly short-lived. I operate a client-first approach, there are no major fashion rules that I inflict on clients if they really like something it’s my job to help them make that work. I get a lot of respect for not selling perfection!
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Mary McGuigan: My answer would have to be:
- Passion – I know that I have found my passion which is extremely important because when times are hard or you’re struggling with a task it’s the passion that keeps you going. I have financial goals for my business but I’m not dying to withdraw every 5 minutes. I am constantly thinking about reinvesting in the next project.
- Work Ethic – I have worked since I was 11 years old mainly in jobs I hated. I am educated and now 37 doing a job I love and I know when people are sleeping I’m working on my passion except it doesn’t feel like work anymore. You have got to be obsessed with what you’re doing and have a really good work ethic.
- Creative Flair – Never be afraid to blurt out those crazy ideas otherwise you will never know. The logical people will help make it practical. Creativity isn’t all paintbrushes and fabrics it’s about thinking outside the box! I always had creative ideas for the accountancy world but it just wasn’t always an area that welcomed it and so it didn’t suit my personality.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Mary McGuigan: Bringing as much of yourself to your branding as you possibly can is key in a business. Your customers are buying you, not your products or services. Don’t try and be something you’re not because everyone else is doing it!
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Mary McGuigan: Be an expert on yourself before you consider being an expert on anything else. You have got to know YOU inside out – this raises your confidence and enables you to take risks and try new things. People are judging you when they first meet you, make sure what you wear reflects your personality!
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Mary McGuigan: “One day or day one – you decide”
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Mary McGuigan for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Mary McGuigan or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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