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Style Guides for the Kids – Hiring a pro to find your child’s right look

What do you do when your child’s self-esteem plummets, they won’t listen to your advice, or they act out? You seek professional help. But that doesn’t always require a therapist. Sometimes hiring a stylist, makeup artist, or interior designer may be the solution. Fortunately, these professionals are right in our backyard. As a bonus, their work typically boosts a child’s mood and improves their relationships with their parents.

Colette Hourigan has worked in the fashion industry for 20 years, spending the past 12 as a personal stylist. Makeup artist Meredith Hayman lists runway models and television stars among her clients during the last 21 years. Debbie Spiro has designed homes and rooms throughout the area for the past 15 years. When they work with children, all three have the same goal: balance the requests of the parents with the needs of the child while making everyone happy.

“Debbie greatly appreciates that these environments won’t only be photographed, they’ll also be living quarters,” says Michael Finklestein. He and his wife Robin hired Spiro to redesign the rooms of their two youngest teens. “They have to feel right to people, not just look good. She wanted to know who lived in the room, what they cared about, and what would be comfortable. Then she pulled it all together so everyone was happy. She was part psychologist and part designer.”

Each expert speaks with the parents and then develops a rapport with the children. They’ll ask their young clients questions about their likes and dislikes, hobbies, activities, inspirations, and any struggles.

“We talk about what’s going on emotionally and how they’re feeling,” Hourigan says. “I ask them how can I make what’s going on inside feel better. It gets a lot deeper than fashion. I’m part therapist, which I don’t mind because I get so close to my clients.”

Then they conduct an overhaul. Hourigan pulls everything out of the closet. Hayman looks through each piece of makeup. Spiro examines the items in the room. They work with the children to determine what should stay and what should go, ensuring that all remaining items are appropriate. Next comes the makeover.

“We’ll get together for a real design meeting,” Spiro explains. “They love it because it makes them feel grown-up and important. Once I get a feel for their color and style preferences, I go out and shop. Then, we have another meeting where I show them what I’ve found. It’s really exciting because I’m pretty good at reading them.”

While Spiro and Hourigan both shop for their clients, Hayman’s clients purchase their own products based on her recommendations. She tells them to purchase only what they want. Then Hayman teaches them how to use their new products and provides written instructions. Typically, these are mother/daughter sessions. Hayman also offers group makeup workshops for tweens and teens.

What makes these women truly magical is their mastery of the art of gentle redirection. Have a child who insists on wearing too-tight clothing? Hourigan will show them how to look gorgeous. Has their self-expression become an eyesore in the house? Spiro redirects their vision into a style that everyone loves. Is your 13-year-old attempting the perfect smoky eye? Hayman will say “I think you’re going to wear this look more often,” or “let me show you how to use this purple eyeliner.”

“Meredith is excellent at her craft,” Wendy Silverman exclaims. She originally hired Hayman as a makeup artist for her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. Hayman’s belief that a girl’s makeup should look natural is one reason moms are eager to work with her. “Dorothy was very comfortable with her. Meredith showed her how to apply her makeup properly, and she even discussed the right foundation for her skin type. Meredith became Dorothy’s guide. Dorothy will text her if she’s at Sephora and can’t decide what to buy.”

If the lure of a peaceful home and an appropriate-looking kid doesn’t draw you in, parents say hiring a professional can also save time and money.

“Going in, I wasn’t sure if it was the best idea,” says Carissa Tondorf who hired Hourigan to style her daughter. “Who styles a nine year old? But Cass really styled herself with Colette’s assistance. Because I’m a very last minute shopper, and my time and relationship with my family is more important, it was worth it. I spent less for the season because I didn’t do emergency runs. Plus, my daughter gained a more refined wardrobe.”

What it Costs: Hourigan: $100/hour; Hayman: $75 for the overhaul, $125 for the lesson, minimum of $150/five girls for workshops; Spiro $125-$150/hour.




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