If you have read this blog for any length of time, you have heard me talk about Tifphanie Lawson. I met Tifph almost ten years ago the first time I took a client to Nordstrom for a shopping appointment. A few hours before the client arrived, I was aimlessly wandering around the floor, worried, overwhelmed and out of my mind with nerves. Suddenly, a bubbly, smiley young woman approached me, and said, “You look like you need some help!” At that moment, relief washed over me, and Tifph became my long time Nordstrom stylist and a good friend.
Tifph provides us access to the private dressing rooms, the ability to pull from any department, so we don’t have to waste time running back and forth and fantastic customer service. She’s down to earth, kind, funny, and always willing to go the extra mile. She’s also a busy working mom of FIVE. That’s FIVE children.
So, I couldn’t think of a better person to feature during Working Mom Week. Over the years I’ve watched her navigate the crazy life of work and motherhood. Despite everything she’s had thrown at her, she is endlessly positive and inspiring. You’ll see in our conversation below why I am so fond of her, trust her totally with our clients, and leave our appointments happier than I started.
Megan: Through our work with clients, I’ve learned that women have more in common than not. Like no matter how different we are, we can always find a way to bond. In your experience, what have you learned about women when you’re standing in a dressing room with them, often when they are their most vulnerable?
Tifph: There’s a moment when you can feel an insecurity from almost any client. And it’s familiar because we’ve all felt it. I know I feel it in one way or another, whenever I try on clothes in front of those awful mirrors. And I acknowledge it. It may not be the dress, but it’s the bumps or the thighs she’s feeling, and I use it as an opportunity to address who we are as women, connect, and lighten the moment up. I’ll share my insecurities, so they know we are in this together. Like when they feel their butt is too big for an item, I turn around and laugh! I have a huge mama butt, but it’s okay, because apparently, my husband likes it, even when I can’t get into my pants!
As a stylist, it’s my job to put you in the pieces that will look best on YOU, and we have to trust one another and be honest and communicative about all of it.
One of the things I admire most about you is that you are ALWAYS positive and present. In the ten years, we have worked together; I don’t remember a single day when I thought you didn’t bring your “A” game. To me, that’s become part of your brand. Even on days when I didn’t have my A-game, you always show up at your best. It seems like you have a unique perspective on life. Would you share that with us?
Awww MEG! Thank you!!! I’ll be honest, I go through things, and emotions, and phone calls from my kids’ school so often, like anyone else. But the truth is, I love my job. I love life. I love being around people who want my expertise, and I love fashion and wardrobing. There’s nothing, not happy about it! I learned who I was a long time ago, and I’m very comfortable in my work and home life. I’m always like “the mama bear.” People rely on me, come to me for advice, and I love being there for them and trusted. I don’t like to let anyone down especially myself. And I always try to focus on the positive, which you can find in anything. Happiness doesn’t have to be anything physical, or phenomenal; it can be the music you listen to on your way to work; the breakfast you took the time to prepare, or the words of inspiration I text my kids every morning when they’re on their way to school. The fact that I have a home, healthy children, and a hard working husband to wake up to, even if I wanted to fuss… means the most. So why not be great to everyone?!
With five kids, a husband who travels for work and a full roster of clients you know busy. What’s been your biggest challenge when it comes to finding “balance” and what have you done to get around it?
I had to learn the hard way to slow down. Four years ago, I threw my daughter a skating party for her eighth birthday, and 15 minutes into the party, I fell in my skates and broke my ankle in two places. Me, a woman who has not been off her feet for most of her life. I was devastated. I immediately began to worry about all of my upcoming appointments, my paycheck, and how the laundry would get done. I couldn’t even drive.
This happening was a game changer. After a few days straight of crying and being miserable I learned I needed to have surgery and screws put into my ankle forever. At that moment I knew there was nothing I could do to change the situation. So, I decided to see what happened if I accepted it. What would happen if I utilized all the amazing people around me and shared some of my life/load with them… and you know what? It worked out.
My leave was paid, and when you’re not driving 50miles a day, eating lunch out, and buying coffee 2-3x a day, the money was almost the same. My husband learned to do laundry! Can you believe that?! I had him take pictures of the washer and dryer on each setting as I returned home from surgery to make sure it was right. But he did it! My girls learned to get along better, and to help one another like never before. Who wants a hurt, healing, fussy mom? It started a tradition of us gathering together and just talking & eating. That was amazing, not being so uptight, pressed for time, and structured.
When I did return to work, we found out we were pregnant with my 4th and first son, so I cut one day of work from my five day week and left it like that. Now my cooking, laundering husband continues to help out. And when he’s gone, my mom fills in. My girls became little mothers of the home. It’s adorable. My painful, 3-month life lesson was to SLOW DOWN! I am way more productive, thoughtful and involved in the things I do. Everything is just feels more personalized. I won’t overwhelm myself with a crazy schedule or to-do list. Life will get crazy and happen all on its own, so I don’t have to serve myself more than I know I can handle without breaking down or feeling guilty. Those who love you and want you to be there for them, won’t ask you.
To me, you exemplify the gold standard of customer service. I noticed it the very first day we worked together, almost a decade ago! Can you share some of the little things you do/ have done for clients that make the biggest impact, for them and your business?
Customer service is huge in any business, this one especially. Aside from my background in fashion and product knowledge, my customer service skills are why my clients come back to me. Most have been loyal to me for 5-10 years. I make it a point to follow through and follow up. My business is not just about the clothing, but the ability to connect with people and be their liaison for all of their needs and dealings with the company I represent. It never ends after the appointment. You’ll get an email, alterations, invites, pictures of items that make me think about you, and even advice about what to travel with or wear for any special occasions. It’s like we’re dating! There are no one night stands with a great stylist.
My clients take time out of their busy lives to see me, trust me, and listen to me, so the fact that I go the extra mile, tracking packages and alterations, is one of my ways of saying thank you. You’re appreciated. Everyone works hard for their money, and they deserve to be treated as such, especially when you can spend it anywhere. I am about quality service, not quantity and it pays off.
Because I have to end asking something about fashion, what are your top 5 must-have pieces that every woman should have in her closet:
Oh yes, the fun stuff, haha!
Every woman should have a pair of dark skinny jeans. Year round. You can wear them all year with 70% of the tops in your closet. Personally, I love the DL1961 EMMA, mid rise it’s one of the softest premium denim lines on the market.
You should have a black blazer. A cotton knit or merino wool, it should be year round, and ready to complete any outfit for a smart look. I like it especially with jeans, or a fun tweed or print pant. It will give you some edge and make you look well put together. I love the Mural $74 blazer at Nordstrom.
A cross body bag is imperative. Smaller sized for traveling, running errands, or fun nights out. I love mine because I have to run around the store all day, and I can stay connected to the things I need most in a day- my cards, lipstick, cell phone, and hand sanitizer. It never weighs me down; it jazzes up my ensemble. When in doubt, Rebecca Minkoff works with everything.
A comfy tunic for your leggings and skinny jeans. It’s a look that is not going away and works in any weather, no matter how you feel, even if you have gained a pound or two.
Oh, and a lightweight leather jacket. It’s how you celebrate fall! It’s the most versatile piece you’ll wear with anything, anywhere. Pick your price point, from a $98 faux leather, up to $398 lambskin, either gives the same chic, updated, hip vibe!
Tifphanie Lawson is a personal stylist for Nordstrom in the King of Prussia Mall. To set up an appointment with her directly, send her an email at Tifphanie.Hill@nordstrom.com.