St. Croix Valley stylist Alexandra Eve Howe talks business and fashion for the new year.
Alexandra Eve Howe dreamed of being a personal stylist since she was a little girl. And after switching from the corporate side of fashion to a more personal side, Howe made that dream come true when she launched Alexandra Eve—her own styling and wardrobe consultation business.
Howe first started her fashion journey at the now-closed Stella’s Boutique in Stillwater. The owners would often bring her on buying trips—where they’d pick out the pieces for next season—and allow her to manage the window displays, which ultimately heightened her interest in fashion. She toured the Fashion Institute of Merchandising and Design (FIDM) in Los Angeles and received an associate degree in merchandise marketing.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” says Howe. “[I] felt like I was learning from the best, and could actually take away and use the knowledge.”
But after graduating from FIDM, Howe made the decision to return to her roots in Minnesota. She says, “As much as I loved L.A. my heart (and family) is here in Minnesota.” And though she loved the fashion in Los Angeles, she says there’s a big misconception about the Twins Cities style—“[People think] style exists only on the coasts, but people in the Twin Cities have amazing taste,” she says. “I also love the challenge of finding style in the depths of winter.”
Soon after moving back to the Twin Cities, Howe received a bachelor’s degree in business management, specializing in fashion and retail, from the Art Institutes International Minnesota. Knowing she wanted to start her own business, she knew business classes would propel her forward. It wasn’t until she was on a flight back from Tennessee that she decided to make styling into her career.
“At the time, I was styling clients virtually for a large company and styling some of my own clients on the side,” Howe says. “Working one-on-one with clients, building those relationships and having the creative freedom really inspired me to branch out and start this business full-time.”
Starting Her Business
Although Howe had always styled her friends and family, her business truly grew organically—and she says the word of mouth has been crucial to her success. Though most of her clients are located in the St. Croix Valley, she extends her services all over the metro area, even heading to west Minnesota.
Barbara Heitkamp, a working mother of two, stumbled upon Howe’s business while scouring the web for a professional stylist to curate a “capsule wardrobe”—a closet consisting of 30 or fewer pieces. “Her website was clean and professional,” Heitkamp says. “I love that she was local to the area and I was drawn to her description of her wardrobe analysis.” After an initial consultation, Howe went to Heitkamp’s house and they spent three hours going through Heitkamp’s closet—who initially wanted to “dump” all her pieces.
But Howe seemed to construct new outfits out of Heitkamp’s existing closet—something Heitkamp wasn’t expecting. She says, “It was liberating. I suddenly realized that I had so much more choice in my existing closet than I had ever contemplated. I just needed to take a little bit of time to ‘play around’ with the pieces I had.” Through her existing pieces, Howe created an entirely new closet.
Now Heitkamp is closer than ever to her “capsule wardrobe,” and attributes her new attitude to Howe’s styling. “I honestly was amazed at how much [she] changed my ability to style myself and create outfits,” she says. “Now I have more confidence to try and wear those pieces in way that I wouldn’t have before.”
“What motivates me is empowering the women I work with to feel confident,” Howe says. “It’s so rewarding.”
Ring in the New Year with a New Style
What better a time to test out a new look than the new year? Howe says switching up your look is more than just about style—she says to figure out if your clothes fit into your lifestyle. For example, if you’re a businesswoman but you only own one to two pairs of dress pants, try adding in a mini skirt or a printed pair of pants. “It might be time for something new when you feel like you’re stuck in a rut,” Howe says. “Adding in one new staple piece, like a blazer, leather jacket or little black dress LBD, can add dozens of new outfit combinations.”
For the winter season, Howe recommends adding in prints and textures. Try pairing a metallic skirt with a knit sweater for a comfy, chic look. Or bring out your wild side with a zebra, leopard or snakeskin printed shoe. Also on trend? Bows, and lots of them—everything from statement bows on dresses to flats with bows and accessories with bows.
“I always like to tell clients to challenge themselves and try something new,” Howe says. “You’ll be surprised by how much you like it.”
Re-work Your Closet
One of the most tedious tasks of the new year is trying to reorganize everything you have. Howe has a few tips for cleaning out your closet, and you can thank her later. “My number one tip, when it comes to clothes, fashion or shopping, is only buy it if you really love it,” she says. “Ask yourself, ‘Do we love this? Is it worth it?’” Next time you find yourself out and about, only pick up a new piece if you need it and if you’re loving it. Pieces can be versatile, so try out your “old” pieces in a new way, you might fall back in love with it!
To save some closet space, Howe recommends folding your soft, knit sweaters—hangers will stretch out a sweater and ruin the piece. Moreover, she says to start a memory box. “A memory box is perfect for a kids closet,” she says. “Add in pieces that have sentimental value [such as an old high school T-shirt], that way they don’t take up space in the closet.”
And to build your wardrobe, Howe says to have a closet that consists of basics mixed in with fun statement pieces that make you feel good. “It could be a printed camisole with a blazer or a statement shoe,” she says. “It depends on each style and how [you] define it.”
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