Birmingham native Megan LaRussa Chenoweth has had a love affair with all things fashion since childhood. Now, she is living her dream of empowering women through thoughtful and passionate personal style coaching. Spend just a few minutes with Megan, and you can’t help but leave with a positive attitude. She has a warm spirit and an infectious smile, and she cares deeply about her mission to build women up through her favorite medium — clothing. Please join us in welcoming today’s FACE of Birmingham, Megan LaRussa Chenoweth!
Tell us a bit about your story and your background.
I grew up in Birmingham and went to college at Birmingham-Southern, where I studied art history and French. I believe that fashion is art, so having a liberal arts degree was really important to me. Post-college, I knew I wanted to move to New York to pursue my dream of working in the fashion industry. I moved in 2008, and I was lucky enough to find a job in trend forecasting. I loved my job, and my boss was amazing and he educated me so much on the bigger world of fashion. But something felt off. My parents were shocked when I told them that I wanted to move back to Birmingham, and it was hard, because I didn’t want it to seem like I had failed and wasn’t pursuing my dream. I just knew that what I had dreamed of actually wasn’t my dream after all. Part of the reason I started to feel like it wasn’t right for me is that I felt like the fashion industry as a whole was starting to make me feel insecure and judged, and it felt very shallow. It was losing the art-for-art’s-sake element that I loved about fashion. I knew that there had to be something else I could do in fashion that didn’t feel that way.
What direction did you take after you moved back to Birmingham?
When I first moved back, I was working on an online fashion marketing degree from Parson’s. I interned with Gus Mayer, and I assisted other stylists in town for photo shoots and fashion shows for Belk, Saks and Gus. I was also running my blog, which was called Southern Femme at that time. Then my interest in style coaching was first piqued when my cousin was getting married. My aunts and my grandmother asked me to help them shop and put together outfits for the wedding. That experience sparked something in me. I had just allowed my family to not have to worry about what they’re wearing, to go to the wedding feeling awesome and present in the moment. Word of mouth started traveling, and I realized that I had found what I was passionate about. This process has been seven years in the making: from blogging and having my hand in styling photo shoots and fashion shows to last summer, when I made the transition to focus on style coaching. I am so fulfilled by educating clients on their personal style and who they are on a deeper level through their wardrobes. I want to help them become their own style expert through the language of style.
What do you hope to help your clients achieve through your work with them?
Aside from them achieving their own personal goals, my end goal is to bring them more confidence. I want to help them feel that they’re really in tune with who they are as women and that they have the confidence to just own it. I call it “The Beyoncé.” Everyone is so different, but the end goal is always more confidence.
What do you find most rewarding?
One of the most rewarding things is seeing them [clients] gain that confidence, whether it’s transforming their life in a very simple way, by helping them feel more confident at work so they feel that they can speak up more and then get a promotion, or literally transforming a client’s entire life. By helping them find confidence, they are then able to live life better, whether on a large or small scale.
What is the most challenging thing about your work?
Running a business is challenging. We have a lot of great interns that come through our doors, and they’re shocked that we’re not just playing with clothes. I’m running a business, and I have employees and I have to take care of them. We’re also running a luxury business, so we want to meet the needs of our clients in the most efficient and beautiful way possible, and that can be hard.
What is the one piece of fashion advice you would give any woman?
It’s so important to know your body type. Knowing your body type and your personal style are the two most important components to building a strong style foundation. It will allow you to cleanse your closet more easily and shop without frustration.
What do you love most about Birmingham? What drew you back to the South?
I’m obsessed with Birmingham. People always ask me why I like Birmingham so much without it being a “fashion town.” I am very close with my family, so that is obviously one of the big things that drew me back, but I also love the creative vibe in our city. The arts here are incredible. The museum is phenomenal, and our symphony is amazing. Then there are so many great music venues like Saturn and Iron City. And, honestly, I love our Southern culture. I love the architecture, the landscape and the nice people.
What’s your current favorite Birmingham restaurant?
Bamboo on 2nd. We absolutely love Bamboo. We go all the time.
What are a few of your favorite Birmingham hidden gems?
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
Chocolate. I love to go to Whole Foods and stand in the chocolate aisle and pick out different types of dark chocolate with cool flavors and ingredients.
How do you like to spend your downtime on the weekends?
We love to spend time with our dog, Joey, and we go to Lake Martin a good bit. Our weeks are so crazy, and Barnett works and is in grad school, so we just like to be super chill — spending time together, watching movies, seeing concerts and eating out.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Life is too short to not be your own person and do what you love. So many people limit themselves from following their dreams, taking that trip or doing something for themselves, and that’s not a life well lived. You want to do things that make you happy and that you desire. It’s so important to take time in your day to incorporate little things that make you happy. Whether it’s going to get that chai latte or going to a yoga class or whatever it might be, those little things throughout the day make life better.
Name three frivolous or lighthearted things you can’t live without.
British Vogue, my Dior brow styler pencil and hoop earrings.
And thank you to Brendon Pinola for the beautiful pictures of Megan in her home!
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