A day in the life of a Bay Area fashion stylist and single mum who is working from home during the pandemic

Leena Alsulaiman.Leena Alsulaiman is a California-based fashion stylist.
  • Leena Alsulaiman is a Saudi Arabian and American fashion stylist and single mum based in California.
  • During the pandemic, Alsulaiman was furloughed from her full-time job as a stylist, and used it as an opportunity to launch a website for her own style consulting side hustle.
  • She wakes up early to catch up on emails, and her days are filled with virtual styling sessions and projects like creating client mood boards, working on proposals, and handling social media.
  • Furthering her skills is important, so she spends time learning, reading, and listening to audiobooks or podcasts.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Before the pandemic, I was working as a full-time fashion stylist at a large retail chain in the Bay Area, where I would style upwards of 30 women a day. For years, my ‘side hustle’ has been consulting on women-led fashion startups worldwide.

But by March 15, as the age of social distancing descended upon us, in-person styling was taken off the table and I was furloughed from the retail company. I’d already been working on an idea to set up my own independent styling business, so I decided to step on the accelerator to launch a website for this business. In the process, I had to adapt my usual offerings to work in a future that will likely include a lot of social distancing, so I made a pivot, and now all of my services are now accessible virtually.

Currently, I’m virtually styling and consulting a handful of clients each week from my home office, which I’ve set up with a ring light and noise-cancelling headphones.

Here’s what a typical day looks like for me during the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday through Friday, my days start around 7 a.m.

Leena AlsulaimanAlsulaiman says getting dressed up even to stay at home helps her focus better during the workday.

By waking up early, I have a decent chunk of quiet time to get centered and focus on what I need to achieve in the day ahead. I take weekends ‘off’ as much as possible to give structure to the week for myself and my kids, three teenagers.

I take this time before the kids wake up to have my first espresso of the day, and tend to all of our pets (Our puppy Moose, kitten Milo, bird Skittles, and two fish Dexter and Dinky).

Next up, getting ready. Quarantine has kept me home but it hasn’t changed my morning work day routine. I shower, get dressed, do my hair and makeup – I work better when I am dressed for it!

I then take the puppy for his morning walk, fresh air sans phone.

Between 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. I catch up on emails, messages, the news, and prep for meetings and calls throughout the day.

Leena Alsulaiman.Alsulaiman’s home office setup.

Something I have made a conscious effort to do daily is reaching out to at least one person who I’m not in regular touch with, just to check in and stay connected.

Once the kids are awake and moving, we meet up in the kitchen and make our breakfast together and sit down to eat and talk about the day ahead – what will they do in their spare time, what will we make for lunch, what are we baking, and what should we watch in the evening. Having a routine and accountability system in place gives them some control in a time when they feel like they don’t have any.

I get started on work no later than 11 a.m.

I usually begin with consultation calls, virtual styling sessions, and “creative clarity” consulting sessions. (These entail a brand discovery questionnaire, a clarity video call between me and the client, a customised plan of action PDF, and accountability with email support and voice notes. The service starts at $US350 and is for women who are perhaps launching a new business venture or pivoting their brand and need a clear direction.)

Working from home with kids – teenagers are no different – sometimes dictates that I need to be super flexible in my work hours.

Lunch is usually around 2 p.m.

LeenaAlsulaimanKittenLeena AlsulaimanAlsulaiman tries to sneak in afternoon snuggle time with kitten Milo after lunch.

After lunch with the kids, I go back to my office with yet another espresso in hand, to work on creating client mood boards, researching, proposals, and social media. Offering virtual styling services has been a pivot in my business model, and is new to me, so I spend some time daily learning, reading, and listening to audiobooks or podcasts to further refine my setup and skills.

Even though many are sheltering in place and staying home, I still get lots of requests for styling, but not styling in the same way it was pre-COVID. The focus now is more on how to maximise on the current wardrobe and creating more looks by incorporating a few key new key pieces into the mix. Clients are also looking for help with navigating outfits for what now is an even longer period of working from home, so that means for Zoom calls, virtual meetings, conferences and teaching.

And let’s not forget all the new mothers that haven’t had a chance to go out and shop. My virtual services help directly with that by curating mood board outfits that have links to where they can be purchased directly online.

I set a daily alarm on my phone for 5 p.m. to wrap up work, or else I lose track of time.

I then change gears and work out for at least 30 minutes. Making time to clear my mind and switch off after work is essential to my self-care routine, and keeps my mind clear and not preoccupied when I am with my children.

At around 7 p.m. we go for the last walk of the day with the puppy – the kids usually join me on this one.

Leena Alsulaiman A rainy walk with dog Moose.Leena AlsulaimanA rainy day walk with dog Moose.

Once we are back we prepare a light dinner and settle onto the couch without our phones to watch some tv or a movie and wind down before the kids head to bed around 10 p.m.

I’m back at my laptop around 10:30 p.m. to checking my email one last time for the day.

As a consultant for brands that are based worldwide, I’m conscious of the time differences, and need to make sure nothing urgent waits overnight unaddressed.

As for bedtime, they say that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight, so by 11 p.m., it’s lights out for me.

Leena Alsulaiman is a Saudi Arabian and American fashion stylist based in the Bay Area. Raised in the Middle East before relocating to the US in 2016, Alsulaiman aims to empower women of diverse cultural backgrounds through fashion and style. Learn more at her website
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