Now most of you will know that in the spirit of keeping it real, I share a lot of my life on Instagram (@melinabagnato and @stylemeover). Generally speaking, I’m open about almost all of it – the good, the bad and definitely the ugly.
But everything you see is in the present.
The photoshoots, the milestones (business and personal), the sick kids, the bad hair days and everything in between.
This is all where I am today, and while it serves as a pretty accurate representation of Melina in 2019, it doesn’t really do much to tell you about how I got here.
With that in mind, I’d like to take you on a bit of a journey – my journey. So kick back, grab some popcorn (although I’d personally be reaching for that glass of red I’ve been thinking about all day), and let’s jump right in.
P.S. While my posts will generally be pretty brief, punchy and to-the-point, this one is a little different – it’s about bringing you up to speed with where I am now. So, while a glass would usually suffice, you might want to set the bottle down next to it, just this one time ;)
I’m a Melburnian through and through. I was born here and practically grew up in the back room of my father’s shop in the heart of the city, which also happens to be where I met my first true love - fashion. I loved how invincible the right styles and colours made me feel, and this brought on the realisation that more people, women especially, needed to feel this too!
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to get into this industry to make a difference. This led me to going into all girls’ colleges some ten years ago to talk about body image, confidence and self-esteem. My message was simple and is something I preach and practice even today. I wanted these girls to know that their sunshine was theirs alone to own and to create, and no one could steal it from them. (And if you’re reading this, I want you to know that too!) I truly believed that getting to girls at such a vulnerable, impressionable age was crucial, and would help shape them into strong, confident women later in life.
Following this, I tried to go down a number of fashion-avenues, including styling for fashion parades and photoshoots. Nothing really felt right or clicked – till I tried personal styling.
I pretty much had my dream job. I mean, what woman wouldn’t want to go shopping with other women, giving them style and wardrobe makeovers as. a. job?!
I quickly realised that I could transform someone’s self-confidence with the clothes I put them in, and help them hold on to this confidence by simply teaching them about their body shape and which colours suit them best (more on this in a future post). The change was so instantaneous it was jaw dropping. I thrived off the rush I got from seeing these women transform in front of my eyes, in style and confidence. I loved what I was doing and life was goooood.
And then came the doozy.
A close friend of mine, Angela Kennedy, asked me to go on My Kitchen Rules (MKR) with her, and seeing as this would be an amazing opportunity, I dived in headfirst – only to come out on the other side more than a little worse for wear.The experience was a rollercoaster of emotions, and taught me more than I could ever imagine, for which I am infinitely grateful.
But it also left me lost and broken.
It put a strain on my friendship.
I was clinically depressed.
I booked a cruise with my husband to get away from it all, and on the night before we were scheduled to leave, I found out I was pregnant with Harvey, my second of three beautiful little blessings. I couldn’t go back to styling ‘on the go’ – how on earth was I supposed to walk around a shopping center for hours on end while pregnant?
What was I supposed to do now?
Knowing I needed a change, I locked myself in my brother’s apartment in silence for two full days, just allowing myself to write what I was feeling and what I wanted to manifest. And there it was. Call it what you want – an ‘Ah ha!’ moment perhaps – it came to me to buy styles and put them online as a way to reach a larger number of women.
When the 6 styles I bought and put on Facebook sold within an hour, I knew I was on to something. The learning curve to setting up a business was steep. It quickly grew to selling tops and accessories, and I had to hire Connie and Elle to help me once a week (6 years on, they’re still with me!). A month later, I was setting up the website ét voila! Style Me Over was born!
Nothing really prepared me for how rapidly SMO would grow. I was doing pop up stores and markets, and at the time only had Facebook to promote the business. We soon outgrew my home office and moved to a bigger space in an industrial area in Clayton. Soon after, the demand grew for customers to try on the garments we were selling and so we created a makeshift change room where a change room really shouldn’t have been! This thing I had created was growing beyond my wildest dreams, and every day brought with it a host of new challenges.
A year after being in Clayton, I took what was possibly the biggest risk of my life and decided to lease a space in Oakleigh to set up my bricks and mortar boutique. I went against all the naysayers (which was pretty much everyone!) and followed my intuition, which has always been my compass in life. I had finally created a space where I could do what I love – style women – from my very own base and with collections that I was curating. What’s more, my intuition paid off since three years on we’re still here, getting bigger, better and crazier every day!
So here I am today, writing this, 10 years on from when I first embarked on my journey. Things really have come full circle, and I’m finally able to do what I first set out to, which is empowering and inspiring women to look within and dress according to their personal style, esteem, confidence. I now have a team of 10 badass woman behind me, supporting me in doing what I do and helping me spread my message of self-care, self-love and perhaps most importantly, to #POPYOURLIPS! This hashtag perfectly encapsulates my motto on how to instantly feel brighter on those not-so-fab days we all have every now and then. Taking a quick moment to do something small for yourself like popping on a bright shade of lippy can really do wonders! Such is my commitment to the message that I’ve even created some fabulously hot tees with POPPIN’ lips to get it out there (check them out here).
Where to next, you ask? My goal from here, my big ‘WHY’ in life really, is to change the way young girls and women perceive themselves and their bodies. Research has shown that self-image is formed at an extremely young age, and a majority of young girls in high school are already engaging in negative self-talk, manifesting self-esteem and confidence issues that go on to last a lifetime. My goal is to shatter these perceptions and encourage young girls to love and more importantly, accept themselves for who they are. I’m on a mission to establish a government-funded high-school program on resilience, positive self-talk and confidence by the year 2027. This may sound overly-ambitious, but then again, all big things start small!
Aim for the stars, and you’ll land on the moon.
Anyway chickadees, I’m pretty much all typed out! I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know me so intimately – we could practically be best friends now! Like I said earlier, the posts that will follow will be much briefer than this, packed with heaps of tips, tricks and handy hacks, so stay tuned!
See you in the next one…