Hey, today we're talking to Lou Stokes, style and confidence coach
We’re going to talk about some of the challenges and achievement than Lou faced while building her business, which include getting over an eating disorder, and being able to live the life of her dreams, which sounds amazing.
Hi Jade. Hi everyone. I was born in London and I'm a Londoner at heart. I moved to Madrid about 15-16 years ago. I started off on what you would say, I suppose would be a spiritual journey, like in about nine years ago when I got really into yoga after having suffered an eating disorder.
This journey led me to travel for two years to Australia and Asia and America where I studied various different types of practices, mainly yoga and meditation and other spiritual practices. I also in that time wrote a book, which was extremely therapeutic for me as it's all about the voice inside of us, so each of our interior voices.
I wrote about my journey Boney, who's my anorexic or who was my anorexic voice. Within those two years, I spent a lot of time soul searching and really going inwards. It wasn't until I came back to Spain because previously I'd actually worked in fashion that I started to want to get back into fashion again, but I was like, how am I going to link fashion and yoga and meditation and wellness? It was all kind of, I wasn't really sure how it was going to do it.
I started to just basically get back into styling again and really into the fashion again. I was like I felt like something was missing, which is when I started to delve deeper into myself yet again and realised that I could actually create something more of my own to say that worked, something more authentic to who I am. That's how the style and confidence coaching came around.
Amazing. It's always so funny when it kind of goes around that full circle and you have that like epiphany moment of, ah, I know what I could do. Because you start to find things that you really love, don't you?
You've been through something, you start to find things that you really love, like yoga and all of that. And then to be able to encompass that into a business that's really lighting you up now, that must feel really amazing.
Yeah, it really does. You know, Jade, for me, it's like the greatest gift to see other people shine because I know what it's like to feel like life's not worth living. In some of my darkest moments, if it hadn't of been for yoga, I really don't know where I would be. I think for me going on this journey of self-discovery and healing myself, there were moments where it wasn't easy obviously, but I look back now and I almost, I do feel grateful for what happened to me because I feel like it's brought me out the other side a much stronger and better person.
The fact now that I can share my journey with other people and help them on theirs, I mean sometimes it's women with body image issues. Other times it's just people that lack confidence and self-love and they're looking to change their life and have some guidance. Whoever they are, whatever journey they're on or been on, it doesn't matter. It's the fact that I can see them blossom.
Absolutely. Tell me about, because you're talking about your inner voice, now this is something that's so many, all of us have got this, all of us have got an inner voice and it's how quick you learn to first identify it, acknowledge it, accept it, and then figure out what you're going to do to not control it, but manage it, and know it's there and create habit I suppose on a daily basis that helps you keep it where it needs to be and not go into that dark, all I can think is like the darkness, into that dark side of the voice.
Tell me about the women that you're working with. When you don't feel good., like when you've got this voice nagging away at you inside it kind of encompasses onto every area of your life, doesn't it? Tell me about how you help people with that. What sort of tips or, not exercises, but that habits can people create to kind of start to make a dent in that and stop it being such a force of nature, so to speak.
Yeah, totally. So the inner voice, like you said, we all have it. It does change over time. It's like a muscle. If you don't train muscles, they get flaccid. So the same with the inner voice. If I don't train this inner voice, it's like my mind. If I don't train it it goes haywire. It's like the monkey mind. It goes from one thing to the other, to the other, to the other, and it's never still in peace. It's constantly jumping, let's say.
One of my ways of taming this inner voice is meditation. For me that has been like a huge life changing practice. I really can't express that enough. It's incredible to be able to like sit with your breath and yourself and just observe your thoughts. It's really interesting because a lot of people say, yeah but I can't put my mind in blank like a blank piece of paper. And I'm like, "That's not what meditation's about." There's quite a lot of mis concepts with it. We don't want to be blanking out. We want to be observing. What happens in meditation when you start to become the outsider and you're, it's like you're almost watching over your thoughts and you'll find that they're always more or less the same four or five thoughts that you're constantly telling yourself the same stories.
When you're able to come present and aware of those stories that that's when you can start to transform them. That's when you know your meditation practice becomes even more powerful because it's when you shed light on something and become aware of it, that's when you can actually transform it.
Meditation practice is essential in being able to learn more about yourself and know what your inner voice is to then be able to change that in a voice. Because obviously we're talking about the inner voice that's negative and self-sabotaging.
Also as well I'm really into morning routines. For me, they are so important. The amount of women that come to me and they say, I ask them what's the first thing you do in the morning when you open your eyes? They look at their phone. They look at their phone and they look at Instagram. They'll look at their up. They'll look at their emails. Basically what we're doing then is looking outside.
We wake up, eyes open, morning world and all your attention is outside. You're not even giving yourself space to just be with yourself when you first wake up in the morning. Basically, that attention is outside on the outside world and that's when comparison comes in, their lives’ better than mine. My life's boring, terrible, or whatever you would call it. That's when you're kind of, you're becoming reactive at like 8:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m. in the morning, whatever time you wake up. That's, like I said before, that's when you start to react to the outside world instead of taking time in the morning, do your meditation, be with yourself, maybe journaling.
I really love journaling. I really love journaling as well. It's a great tool to get out how you feel and also to be grateful for what you have because the more grateful we are, the more we can transform what we have into more. These are my fundamental practices. Also, when you become aware of your thoughts, so maybe you're going about your day and all of a sudden a negative thought will come up. Because you're cultivating a meditation practice it becomes much easier to see these or hear these thoughts quicker, to become more aware of them. Okay, I'm thinking about that again.
When that happens, what I tell my clients to do is to just name it. If you're thinking about self-sabotage, then you say, "I'm self-sabotaging. Thank you for that thought, but you no longer serve me," and change that into a positive thought. That's another very powerful exercise or transformation, I'd rather call actually.
Those are the fundamentals for me, for the learning about your inner voice and actually being able to transform it.
It's so powerful once you start recognising your thoughts. I do completely agree with you, that one, I'm looking at it at the start of the day is so different from looking at it however many hours in because we layer crap over the top of everything. That's a problem to us. The minute we wake up, that's the real problem there because that's like when we're most with ourselves and most alert, in tune with our subconscious. Then you go throughout the day and you just layer everything. If someone looked at me wrong in the coffee shop, someone did it like this, this.
It just gets layered on it. It's gets much harder to see it. So we think that waking up, okay, we're going to get straight on with some work, do this, do that, the other. It becomes a real, like you say, training process to teach someone that is an entrepreneur, someone that's working for themselves, that they need to just think about themselves for a few minutes, for half an hour, an hour, whatever, in the morning without going into work, work mode straight away. And they're going to thank themselves for it so much going forward, aren't they?
Yeah, totally. I mean, especially if you're an entrepreneur because we have like this pressure on us because it's just us and our business and it's like our baby. We kind of live and breathe it 24 hours.
We literally love it, don't want to go out and don't want to not think about it, but it drives you insane and you need to give yourself that space from it as well to be able to think more clearly, more easily and without the stress. I completely agree with the morning practice and I feel like it's something that you still have to work on through all the time, making sure you do it because it's so easy to make an excuse. Oh, well, I'll just check this. Oh well I'll just do that.
Yeah, totally. Also it's really interesting because often you'll find that people do it Monday to Friday. We just kind of interesting isn't it? I'll just do it the days I work and it's like, yeah, I get that the weekend we don't generally get up so early, maybe. But it is important to still carry this habit, this practice through, because it's very easy to be like, "Oh, Saturday, I'm not going to do it.: Oh, Sunday and then Monday maybe come around and then you don't do it anymore. It's so easy to get out of the practice of doing it.
I think also to look at Monday with that resentment then because you're like, I've had a weekend off and like I've been on Facebook, I've been able to, I have to think about this because when you learning something new or when you're creating a habit, it does take a while for it to kick in. It's the same with absolutely anything isn't it? If you give yourself two days at the weekend where you don't do it, you don't think about it, that uncomfortable that you're living in, which is kind of weirdly comfortable to you but it's not because it's uncomfortable because it's not Saturday.
That just takes over and then by Monday you're then resenting the habit that really is going to save you and it is serving you so much more. It's a really vicious circle to get into. It's the same with, obviously I'm talking about your journey with an eating disorder. It's the same thing with the mentality behind eating and if people are trying to lose weight, I'm fine in the week and then the weekend, oh well I'll have a treat day or I'll do this or I'll do that. It's the same thing, isn't it, With a habit? You've got to carry it through for a prolonged period of time for it to really do its work.
Yeah, totally. I think as well to start in anything like this, so whether it be like a new eating plan or a morning practice, a meditation practice, it's really important to start with mini goals because often we're like, okay, I'm going to meditate 30 minutes and you've never done it before. It's like you'll do it for two days and you'll hate it and then you won't do it anymore.
It's really important to be really aware that by giving yourself a mini goal, so maybe you meditate for five minutes, but you're going to end up sustaining those five minutes a lot longer and then you'll be able to increase them because you won't get frustrated because you can't do it anymore. I think the same with healthy eating plans and things like that, nutrition. You start by taking some things out and adding some new things in rather than completely changing your whole way of eating.
It's just incredible to see and it's very interesting how in January all this stuff kind of goes on. It's all like, yeah, next year it's going to be different and like there's massive New Year's resolutions and you're going to go to the gym five times a week for like an hour and a half and then mid-January, third week into January and people are just depressed again because they're not achieving what they wanted to.
I think it's really important as well to be like, okay, I want to start this, for example, meditation and then just start with the mini goals and then that's really getting a good practice in place that will be solid and then you can start to increase.
Is this achievable? You're achieving something and it's like a little mini celebration then, for a whole week I've done five minutes of this every day and I've managed to keep it up. Now I'm going to try and do it for two weeks at five and just increased an hour, and increased an hour, and before you know it it just gets easier and easier.
I remember when I was running before I had my third baby. I used to love running, but I never thought I would. I never thought I would love running. I never wanted to run. I can remember the process a bit being like, I really don't want to go for a run. But then there was another part of me that really wanted. It's like this weird, I knew the benefit that I was going to get from going and it's like I'm just going to go.
Then you get into the, I'm going to get to that lamp post, I'm going to get to the next hill. We have like a David and Goliath hill as well in the village where I was running. I can remember like setting David as the task, go up there and then the next one was Goliath. I never thought I'd be able to do it, but I did. It was because I did it gradually.
It definitely really works and it's just a case of being kind to yourself
I love that you use the language magnetic woman when we were talking about you coming on the show. Tell me about what that means to you and how you help people with that.
She's magnetic, it's a program I've developed. Basically I use tools and strategies to help women to become the magnetic woman they were born to be. We go from self-love, confidence, energy, wellness to style. We basically transform from the inside out. It's all about becoming your authentic self and being true to who you are.
Seriously, it gives me Goosebumps because when I see these transformations, it's so incredible because you see people that from the inside they change through the process, their confidence, their energy completely changes. And then they feel better about themselves and they eat better and they exercise and then we do, I help them with their style. They really wear what feels good to them and what empowers them and not what's in the magazines and on the TV and what so and so is wearing or what you should be wearing.
It's a really incredible transformation and basically you can't have an authentic style if you don't love yourself. You can't be confident if you don't love yourself. I think your energy is totally different when you love yourself, when you really love yourself.
What I'm trying to get at is that it's, the work is very much an inside job and then the rest comes.
Absolutely. I was thinking when you were speaking about the guys that I work with on branding, personal branding specifically as well, especially when I work on shoots. It's always very interesting to me because I meet people at very different levels of their journey, of their business journey and also their life journey, and sometimes you know that somebody wants something in their business. They want to shoe or they want to get a lot of images for Instagram or whatever, but they just can't commit to it. And nine times out of 10 it is because of the inner work that needs doing around finally stepping up to be their brand and to be the person behind the brand, to be the face of it. That does all come down to this inner works, this inner confidence.
I completely relate to what you're saying because I see people going through this journey all the time and we're all at different stages. None of us, unfortunately, it'd be great if we were all born and we get confidence that we had the second we came out and we're like that the whole of my life. But unfortunately we don't. Different factors come into play and it can take some people less time than others. It's just a journey that we all go on.
Tell me about, I tell you what I think is going to be a great thing to speak about is, obviously working with a lot of bloggers, work with a lot of fashion lifestyle bloggers and for me, I've been trying to really drill down on how in 2019 social media is very different. Having an online presence, having an online business is very different. The way that consumers want you to interact with them, what they're looking for before they shop with you, before they trust you, has all of the bars have changed. From a style point of view, what can you say that will help fashion bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, that are trying to really monetise their business and to make their blog, their Instagram blog, into more of a sustainable business going forward? How can they really showcase their trustworthiness through their personal style? How can they connect with people through that, but in that different way really that now people are calling for?
Right. So for me the big thing is being authentic and really tuning into oneself and knowing who you are and what kind of people, what kind of clients you want to attract. Who are you looking to help, which will then ultimately bring you the clients that you desire.
I think it's so important to just be authentic, share stories. Don't just put the typical, I'm here shopping in this store. This is wonderful. Try to bring more life, more of yourself to what you're saying. Also put in your experiences as well. I think it's all about personal branding now and people want to connect with people. People buy from people. People connect with me because I'm authentic. I'm honest. I'll tell people if I don't believe I can work with them because we're not the right fit. I believe a lot in energy as well and the connection. I think you can feel that as well through social media, images and also blogs as well, like the way people write. You can feel energy. I think it's really important to be authentic.
I feel like there's a pressure on fashion bloggers. I keep saying fashion blogs. I hate categorising it like that because I feel like we just, they're just all independent and unique businesses. They're just all different businesses. That don't really fit into a box.
People that are in that industry, there's a pressure. If you're on Instagram, you scroll through your feed and different things pop up, fashion, fast fashion really isn't it? Pop up, buy this, buy that. Everybody wants to swipe up and get your outfit. If you're creating something that's more authentic to you, I feel like it is harder for people to then replicate that look. So how, I suppose, do they stay true to them self in their style, but do it in a way that they can monetise it, and create a business as well going forward, but without losing themselves?
right, yeah. Basically you're saying if their look is authentic to them, then maybe people won't want to buy it.
Well I suppose you have a lot of bloggers as well that shop in vintage now. We're all a bit more ethical, especially people, I don't know, in a target bracket under 25 to 35 now. I would say it's quite an ethical shopping bracket now. They're looking for more ethical way to recycle clothes and although that creates a brilliant personal branding opportunity from a monetising point of view, you haven't got the luxury of being able to deal with the affiliate links that monetise it in that way. I can see why that makes bloggers just want to go with the trend. They want to just go to the Instagram cafes and take photos where people can swipe up and buy the outfits. But it isn't going to cut it in the long run. In the long run they've got to build something sustainable as somewhat unique to them. It's like how can they be in that industry but still monetise their business in a way that that is authentic to them.
Right. I really believe that when you're authentic to yourself the right things come to you. I also think as well it's really important to showcase who you are, like who you really are. I think as regards to monetising, I would work with brands that I feel connected to and in line with who I am. I would also do the whole vintage thing and work with other sustainable brands as well.
I think it's just like broadening our horizons and not sticking to one thing. Because internet changes so fast. We don't know what the next thing's going to be. I think it's really important to just be in line with who you are and work with brands that you know are in line with your messaging and your style. And also create more personality by getting some vintage pieces or this and that because maybe you're not selling the exact same dress because it doesn't exist, but you're sending people to that store that maybe didn't even know that store or website.
Essentially it's you're still generating an interest and traffic to these other sites, whether they buy. They can't buy the same dress, but maybe they'll, oh these sunglasses or this skirt.
Absolutely. I feel like I'm on a mission this year that just I don't want to use the word empower because it's overused isn't it, help people see that they can have a business on their own terms. It doesn't have to go with the flow. I feel like nine times out of 10 it does come down to confidence. Confidence to put yourself out led to different brands. Confidence to say no to what everybody else is doing and to look past that. Competence as well to say, oh well I'm not going to be able to add an affiliate income from this. If I went down this route I might be able to end this many hundreds, which was. It's more of a, not a leap of faith, but it is just an all overconfidence situation.
I think it's coming back to your core message of doing that in a work and working on your confidence in all areas. Because if you want to build a sustainable, profitable blog business in 2019 you're going to need your confidence. You're going to need it to put yourself out there.
Yeah, without a doubt. We've all done this in life and we've done things because we think we should do them that way. And ultimately it's never really worked out because we're not being authentic. We're not following our own heart and doing what we really want to do. It's very easy to chase the money, but I think on the long term, that doesn't work. Just really tuning in with what you want in your life and how you want to live on your terms is so important, especially when you're starting a business as well.
I think when you're sure of what you want and how you want to live your life and that's also a big confidence boost as well, because that's clear in your mind, that's clear how you want the and obviously it can evolve as it goes along. But I think knowing where you want to go and how you want your life to be is clarity basically. It's so important because that makes you feel even more confident as well because you know, yeah, that's where I want to go.
Completely. Well, thank you so much for joining this Lou. Have you got anything else that you want to share?
No, it's been an absolute pleasure. I've really enjoyed talking to you Jade. I look forward to hopefully, again.
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