She sees herself as a Closet Guru who applies the principles of Feng Shui on your closet to help you feel beautiful. And her powerful influence doesn’t involve an overhaul of your wardrobe or a wild new shopping spree! Michelle Pozon is a Paris-based personal stylist who believes a woman is at her best when she doesn’t follow fashion trends.
The American-born “spiritual” stylist of Filipino origin worked 23 years as a fashion designer selling her own children’s label before revamping her career path to give it greater meaning. She teaches that it’s not the clothes that make the woman, but rather the woman who gives meaning to what she wears.
Michelle, just what does a “Closet Guru” do for a woman’s wardrobe?
I help women get in touch with their inner genius and dress from a place of authenticity and mindfulness. I empower women by showing them that they have everything they need already to be beautiful, and that any subsequent choices regarding their wardrobe can be made from a place of personal authority – rather than by following convention or the latest trend.
You have a long love affair with fashion. Tell us how you began as a fashion designer and transformed into a style guru?
I’ve been creating outfits and wardrobes for as long as I can remember. I have been my mother’s stylist since I was five, and I was designing my own clothes with seamstresses since about that time as well. I love to create, and I love to feel beautiful. Helping a woman recognize her own beauty is one of my greatest joys and highest honors.
Fashion, however, is another matter. I am not in love with how the business of fashion has evolved. I was a fashion designer for more than 20 years, so you could say that it took me a while to learn this distinction.
Having my livelihood depend on selling more and more all the time does not align with who I am or what I want. I am happier when creating new outfits from what is in my closet already, rather than buying something new, or creating something different from scratch – as if new is always better. I believe we can create new and different all the time, but we don’t have to deplete our natural resources to do so. There are other ways to be creative, and the joy for me is in doing so in a sustainable and healthy fashion. Trends are pointless to me and being fashionable doesn’t make someone pretty, or even well dressed. Knowing oneself and believing in oneself, however, does.
One of your services is called the “Closet Cleanse”. How do you help women decide what to keep in their wardrobe and what to throw out?
Revisit, reuse, recycle. It is all about the “why”. What purpose does this item have in a person’s wardrobe? How does each item make my client feel? How does my client use this item? I do not believe in “Have Tos and Shoulds” unless they empower a person and make them feel as they desire.
Every item can be used in a multitude of ways. We do a “fashion show” with their wardrobe, during which my clients discover options and a new way at looking at their wardrobe, to awake their own creativity.
Many items that no longer “fit perfectly” can be restructured or re-tailored to fit a current need, or can be gifted to others who can benefit from them. The way in which items are recycled depends on the client and her circle of friends and/or circumstances.
Items that are beyond repair are discarded. The goal is to only keep what can be used and appreciated, joyfully and efficiently.
In this time, we also identify if there are any needs not being met and make a shopping plan to fulfill those needs. Every purchase will serve a function and work in harmony with what has remained in my client’s wardrobe.
Is part of this process helping a woman find her fashion style or creating a new one for her?
I feel that concerning ourselves with fashion is not the same as creating something and feeling beautiful. Women know what they want deep down. So, my purpose is to help them get in touch with those feelings that express beauty for her, and show her that she already has access to all that she needs to express herself.
I have come to realize that women often do not “trust their gut” until they receive affirmation from an “authority”. In this case, someone who has been in fashion and looks the part, as I do. I help women get in touch with their ability to create and have fun with the process. Being beautiful need not be difficult and time consuming. It is all about mindset and knowing that we ALL are beautiful, already.
Some people never want to throw away any piece of clothing or accessory because they think it will come back in fashion. What is your philosophy on that?
Forget fashion. Only keep items that you honestly LOVE. Well-made pieces that you feel beautiful in are priceless. Eliminate anything that does not meet this criteria. There is no room in your life or your closet for regret.
Are there certain pieces of clothing that everyone should have to begin a wardrobe?
Again, something that makes them feel beautiful. And, whatever it is, take good care of it. It can be a piece of jewelry, a favorite dress or accessory. In my view, it truly is about the emotion that the item evokes. We are inspired by things we love and can build from there.
Just how many pair of shoes is reasonable if you love shoes?
That answer is different for everyone. It really depends on how you look at it. A good way to discern would be to ask yourself “what need does this love fulfill?” or “How can this love serve the greatest good?” I am all for giving yourself what you really love in the most positive and healthy way.
Does making women feel beautiful make you happy?
Your quest for fulfillment has led you back to your roots. Will you share with us where this journey is taking you?
I am forever an expat. US born, brought up all over Asia, educated in American international schools during my elementary and high school days.
I am currently exploring my Filipino heritage, which was not shared with me as a child. My main exposure to the Philippines when I was growing up was through the loving care given to me by the Filipino household staff. I journey to the Philippines now, as an adult, to contribute to building up a nation that has seen so much neglect.
Besides your passion for fashion, you are a dedicated philanthropist helping Filipinos in need of aid and support. Tell us what inspired you to create the non-profit association Paris for the Philippines, and what is your next project?
My passion is for feeling beautiful and helping others feel the same. When we feel beautiful, we recognize our abundance and our ability to be a cause for good. We behave beautifully and treat one another with compassion, kindness and respect. The business of fashion has become about making a woman feel they need more, instead of celebrating everything that she is already. Fashion has become a way of separating instead of expressing, and I am not happy with that. My hope is to lead by example and BE beautiful. I am mindful in my purchases, and I strive to show respect for everyone that I meet.
Paris for the Philippines was created by six women who all love the Philippines.
For me, it began as my response to Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. I also feel that the common knowledge of Filipinos is rather limited and that their international contribution is unrecognized.
So many Filipinos working in France are here for their families. The typhoon wreaked so much havoc and destruction and left many of them feeling powerless and scared for their beloved back home. What kind of country would they go home to? Would their families survive? What would life look like after the typhoon? It was my small way of showing that I care. And, I imagined that as a mother far away from home, I would feel less alone if someone lent me a helping hand, or acknowledged the value of my country.
I have been very lucky to find myself appreciated everywhere and anywhere I go. I would like the same to be true for the millions of women who leave their homes to support their families in the Philippines.
By partnering with Gawad Kalinga, I hope to make the Philippines a more sustainable place for the greater population so that families can stay together. As for Filipinos returning home, they should have a country that can support them upon their return.
How does Michelle juggle her fashion work, community engagements and family life in Paris to find the right professional and personal balance?
“She who has a why to live can endure any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
This quote has been coming at me a lot lately and it does resonate.
I know who I am and I know that I want to contribute to a better world any way that I can. My goal is to reduce my carbon foot print and leave a positive hand print on our world.
How I do so can differ from day to day, so I set the intention, and the how unfolds with the opportunities that come my way.
I take care of my family by paying attention to what and how we consume. And, I prioritize self-care knowing that I am of no good to anyone unless I am healthy and happy.
I begin and end each day in gratitude, and I schedule my obligations before I go to bed at night. Most importantly, I treat myself with loads of compassion – because I know that anything and everything can change.