Janine Starkey on How She Learned to Tweak’n’Style & How She Can Teach You to Do the Same
Have you ever stopped to think about when you first developed a sense of fashion and style? How you distinguished between what looks fabulous and what merely looks OK on a person or yourself? For many women, this sensibility developed in a playful manner – namely through dressing up our dolls or raiding our mothers’ or older siblings’ closets to play dress up with our friends. During this stage of our lives, we felt free to mix and match clashing fabrics with flashy accessories and maybe even some fancy headwear. And while most of us grow out of pairing poorly contrasting colours and accessorizing with all things glitter and bling, playing dress up plays a huge part in helping us cultivate our own love for fashion and style. The same is true for Janine Starkey, the owner and founder of Tweak’n’Style, the South Africa-based image and style consultant agency that follows the mantra: “look good, feel good, perform.”
“I was thirteen when I started to find more joy in dressing up and styling my paper dolls and barbies, rather than actually playing with them. I realized then, that there might be more to this fashion love of mine. By the time I was seventeen, I started designing dresses for my paper dolls. Fashion was all I ever wanted to pursue,” Janine told Fashionomics Africa.
She enrolled at the London International School of Fashion (LISOF) in Johannesburg in 1994, where she graduated with a higher diploma in Fashion Design and Technology and Fashion/Apparel Design in 1998. “LISOF prepared me for a career in fashion in different ways. It taught me about creativity, how a piece of clothing is put together, how a pattern is constructed, and how to turn my drawings into real runway garments. However, the fundamentals were missing during my time at school. There was no focus on fashion marketing, the business-side to fashion, entrepreneurship or even how to start your own line back then, so I wasn't yet entirely prepared to venture out on my own upon graduating,” Janine explains.
Following her time at LISOF, Janine landed the job many fashionistas dream of: she became the Head of Wardrobe at Egoli, Franz Marx Films, where she was on standby for the South African pay television channel, M-Net, and responsible for styling the actors and actresses of SA’s soap opera industry. “I loved every minute of it,” Janine gushes, “But I wanted more.”
In 2004, she founded House of Janine, offering her services as a stylist, image consultant and personal shopper. Her incredible talent and eye for detail quickly earned her a loyal following, and by 2016, she felt it was time to expand her business and invite fellow experts to form part of what soon established itself to be an amazing team. At this point, Janine rebranded and relaunched her company as Tweak’n’Style, which now consists of a team of seven consultants who have become like family to her. “We became South Africa’s first online styling service and have worked with major corporations such as Discovery and GIFS,” she proudly tells us.
“Our vision is to provide Africans with sustainable clothing of great quality and design, and at fair prices. We are launching three new lines which we are very excited about, in April 2020. We design clothing that is real and ready to wear under the TNS brand. We also have an image academy where we train image consultants – it’s a three-month course, face to face or online, and if the student excels, we offer the consultant the opportunity of owning their own TNS business. So many of the students from over the years, never went on to start their own business and I needed to find a way to change that – it’s scary doing it alone so, this way, they are supported by our brand every step of the way.”
This years’ Tweak’n’Style Image Academy course and curriculum is in full preparation and kicks off on May 9th, 2020 at the Houghton Hotel in Johannesburg. Over the course of twelve Saturdays, Janine and her team will teach aspiring fashion entrepreneurs everything there is to know about how to make it in the industry, how to merge existing businesses such as blogs with fashion and style advice and how to change people’s lives in doing so. “This course is not just for fashionistas: it benefits hairdressers, beauticians/cosmetologists, photographers, fashion designers, wardrobe stylists, lifestyle gurus, makeup bloggers – all those who are influencers in their trades will enjoy this course. They will come to understand that image is a package – a head to toe look, from skin, makeup and hair to capturing the individual's essence. Understanding the client is critical to ensure they get a holistic resolve for their look.”
Janine is determined to offer aspiring stylists and fashionistas the knowledge and tools needed to succeed in their chosen field. “Passion is everything – if this is really what you want then build your plan of how you're going to get it and make it happen. Nothing is handed to you; you must go out there and find opportunities. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, innovation and implementation is key. I am like a dog with a bone and I advise anyone who is in our trade to be the same. If you know there is value in your concept don’t stop fighting until you get the result you want. Never give up. Our biggest flaw as creatives is our inability to be logical, to be practical. This doesn't count for all creatives but most of us, and as important as it is to have an amazing business idea, it is equally important to find the right partners to fill the gaps. I built my business on two things: synergies, i.e. relationships with others and giving more than taking.”
And so far, Janine’s formula has worked out perfectly for her. Her love for her profession is evident and we are excited to see a new generation of stylists, consultants and influencers soar with the knowledge they gained from the Tweak’n’Style Image Academy. More than that, we are incredibly proud to welcome Janine on board of the Fashionomics Africa team as our very own style consultant – watch this space for more news on how you can get style advice from her!