Do you enjoy meeting new people? Hearing the stories of someone who is inspiring? If you answered yes to either of those, or find yourself enjoying having a simple conversation with someone else, we’re with you. And we want to offer this to you through THEM, a section of our blog that introduces the inspiring people we have had the fortunate experience of meeting.
Enjoy meeting Whitney.
You probably know a friend, family member, or even might find yourself thinking in the mindset that you really, really want a career that is different than what you currently have. You have a job, a passion, or a side hustle that you have always had an interest in, maybe even always been really talented at, but never managed to make it your full-time job. Whitney Clegg is someone who also went through this, but has since fully changed her career, going from physician to personal stylist, and recently shared her story with us!
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Minnesota a suburb in Minneapolis, I think I would just say I had a typical childhood. Besides hanging with friends in school, I was playing sports like swimming and track and gymnastics. And I always loved fashion. My mom always says the first sign of my love for fashion when that when my extremely, extremely shy self totally boldly walked up Minnie Mouse and told her I loved her shoes and then ran back to my mom. Some of my favorite childhood memories are going shopping with my dad. But I did do well in school, especially in the sciences which is part of why I chose the path of medicine. I went to Columbia University and I chose the pre-med track and coming from Minnesota I was like in total New York City. I was shocked in a good way with different cultures and fashion.
How did your career after school begin?
I briefly practiced as the emergency room physician in Chicago and then I eventually moved on to become a medical epidemiologist. Most people don't know what that is. It's basically a disease detective. So I don't know if you've ever seen the movie Contagion but Kate Winslet in that movie is an epidemiologist.
Did you move to Chicago for that job specifically or was there another reason you wanted to go there?
I wanted to stay in a big city but I moved to Chicago for medical school. And since then, I've stayed I've been in Chicago for twelve years now.
How long was the period of time that you were working in that second job, as an epidemiologist?
It was about five years working in two different agencies local government mostly with infectious diseases. I honestly was truly rewarded in this career but I just wasn't passionate about it.
Other than the amount of time and dedication that you had already put in to your original career in medicine, was there anything that stuck out to you as most difficult about the transition even though you knew that you really wanted to?
Actually be one of the biggest difficulties instead of explaining to people the reason why you want to change. There are a lot of haters out there that don't understand why you're changing. It was also difficult to leave the subject. I do find it interesting, but again it wasn't something that I wanted to dedicate my life to.
What does a normal day look like for you?
My business is slowly growing and it's mostly from referrals! I mostly do current wardrobe styling and event-based styling. And for some of my clients, I've actually also started to do global sourcing of vintage items or seemingly sold out, current season pieces that they need help finding. That part of things is kind of new, and I've started to really love.
I don't really have a typical day here with my local clients. I could be visiting their homes, to help them with selling their current wardrobe. I do prefer shopping in local boutiques or in department stores with or without my clients. I also spend a lot of time on my computer trying to find interesting items for both my local and remote clients.
What's been the most difficult part as you've transitioned into a full-time stylist?
The most difficult part is proving myself to new clients but also, that's also the most fun part. I always try to, kind of, push someone to try something. I try to push a new brand or push something that they'd never heard of or mention a new way of rethinking their wardrobe. But also, of course, remaining within boundaries.
What are you looking for most when it comes to your career as a stylist. Are there any goals that you've outlined for yourself at this point?
I try not to think too far in the future as far as my career, because it's so slowly growing. I like the fact that it's growing slowly because like it helps me hone in on exactly what I want to do without having many major pivots. At this point, I would just love to grow my client base and then eventually style for a brand someday.
How do you personally define success for yourself, not necessarily in terms of as a stylist but just as a person?
For me, a big part of success is being happy in what I'm doing, which is why I left medicine. As far as my career, I'm not naive to think that just because I love what I'm doing and my business isn't viable, that that is successful. That’s not realistic or practical. I think the definition of success is being happy in what you're doing, being challenged, and being able to live the lifestyle you want for yourself, which is very different for everyone of course.
Hopefully, you have enjoyed meeting Whitney and hearing a little more about her amazingly unique story. Subscribe to our email newsletter for other stories from THEM, the inspiring people we have had the fortunate experience of meeting.