When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was a tough road ahead for many small business owners. For Molly Bingaman of Ladybird Styling in Kansas City, it was a struggle to navigate her styling business and to keep those dreams alive. Spacemob Studios, a fast growing, large scale production company wanted to share Molly’s relatable story to a wide audience. Hours, of cinematic footage, raw interviews and stills developed into a full scale production titled, The Way We Move. A limited series that reveals the raw and authentic side to small business struggles in the wake of the current pandemic. You can watch it on the Docurama channel. We sat down with Molly and asked her some questions about her female owned business, her show, The Way We Move, and the future of Ladybird Styling.
1.) Tell me a little bit about Ladybird- What made you think of it and how did it become a business?
I started Ladybird when I realized that a lot of my awesome and amazing friends felt confused and insecure about fashion. It surprised me to learn that the intelligent, beautiful, and otherwise confident women I knew were feeling shut down, or like they were ‘missing something’ in this area. I could really see the affect it was having on their self-esteem. After hearing enough of these stories I thought “Okay. This is not okay. This is solvable. I’m going to do something about this.” From there, it became about creating an approachable environment for women to get sound advice.
2.) What is your background? Fashion? Technology? Styling?
I have a background in Fine Art, but after graduating I often wondered “why didn’t anybody tell me not to get an art degree!?” It wasn’t until years later, when I immersed myself into styling that it all came full circle and I was able to appreciate and use what I’d learned about the language of design. My initial styling training was with Stacy London of “TLC’s What Not to Wear.” At the time she was working on a national styling company that matched women with personal stylists in their area. I was a new stylist and this was a great boost of confidence and credibility for me as I was just getting started. Later I dug deeper into the “image consulting” industry and learned the foundation of what we teach today.
3.) What would be an ideal client for Ladybird Styling? Is it mostly women? Or is it for men too?
The ideal Ladybird client is any woman who is sick of looking to outside sources to inform herself of her very own sense of style. She feels the itch that there’s a well of un-tapped creativity inside her and she’s ready to explore it. At Ladybird, the name of the game is authenticity, and this is what we draw on when we teach a women how to style herself. We’ve worked with quite a few men in the past, but we are currently focused on serving women.
4.) Why do you think so many people regret having a closet full of items they don’t actually wear? Or need? Why do people often shop for the WRONG items?
Chaos in your closet comes from too many mixed signals. When your clothing doesn’t vibe together, and it doesn’t vibe with you. The stuff that works is always going to ‘move the way you do’, but it’s hard to see that stuff when there’s so much clutter. So it’s all about culling all of that stuff out so that you can really start to see and build upon what IS “vibing”. There are a ton of reasons we acquire things that don’t actually suit us—it could be that we are distracted by trends, or influenced by a friend that we shopped with. Or, it could be just the feeling that you can’t wear “x” because of your size, age, gender, or whatever. Ultimately, it’s better to have a really small wardrobe filled with only the items that you love, instead of one that’s busting at the seams with items that you can’t actually see yourself in.
5.) What is the most universal “must have” single item for women to have in their wardrobe? What about for men?
The most universal item a woman must have in her wardrobe is something that makes her feel alive, comfortable, like herself. It’s not a certain kind of piece—like a little black dress, or white button down—it’s whatever the go-to standard is for her. Something that every time she puts it on, or even every time she looks at it hanging in her closet—gives her energy, and reminds her of her own spirit. Same applies for men.
6.) What is the funniest experience you had with a client— be discreet but —do tell!
I’ve had clients say some hilarious things during the process of finding their vibe. Someone once told me (when she was wearing something particularly uncomfortable) that she felt like “a ten ton sausage in a 5 ton bag.” Another memorable quote: “I want to feel edgy and cool – but remember I drive a Subaru, not a mustang.”
7.) How about the most frustrating? What are some of your pet peeves when helping people find their style?
It can be frustrating when someone is fighting hard to hold onto an old mindset that is clearly not serving them. Our approach requires people to give up the old ways of assessing style—it’s not about a trend or keeping up with fashion culture—it’s about putting that down to learn to tune into the quieter intuition inside. Sometimes people are so used to the noise, and are living such “loud” lives, that it’s really hard to get them to slow down so that they can feel their real signal.
8.) Describe a memorable client experience where you saw one of the best transformations through a wardrobe/styling makeover from Ladybird styling.
We once worked with a woman, who weeks later, lost her husband in a freak electrical accident. She wrote us the day of the funeral to say how she felt like her experience had not only transformed her, but that she was able to pick something out for the funeral that felt like the “armor” she needed to get through it. That felt special.
9.) Tell me about the series show The Way We Move—
The Way We Move was filmed during the toughest part of quarantine—the initial lock down. It follows our team through the trials of learning that we had to stop and reassess our business. The series is truly a behind the scenes look at how we struggled and then eventually adapted the business during the pandemic.
2.) What do you hope the audience takes away from The Way We Move?
I hope the audience sees a glimpse of humanity in the show. We’re just real people, trying our best to do right by our business, vision, dreams and clients. I think it’s easy, when you’re a consumer, to forget that there are real people behind businesses, and that often there are incredibly tough choices that aren’t clear or easy to make. I also just hope it’s entertaining and inspiring to watch.
10.) What are your long term aspirations for Ladybird?
I want Ladybird available on a super wide scale. That’s always been the dream. Our physical location is in Kansas City, but I’m really excited about the new ways we can work with people virtually. Since the release of my Tedx Talk in January, we now work with women all over the world and that feels great. Ultimately, I want what we teach about personal style to become common knowledge—for every woman to know what it’s really about, and for life in the closet and in the dressing room to get a whole lot easier and more joyful. You can find the Ladybird Styling list of services here and be sure to check out her Ted Talk and definitely watch The Way We Move Here
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