Issaquah resident Colleen Volk’s life changed with a cancer diagnosis.
At age 28, Volk was a working wife and mother of two young sons, toiling away at an ad agency, when she found out that she had stage 4 melanoma.
Miraculously, after a year of cutting-edge treatment, Volk beat cancer, but it changed her life forever. She decided it was time to quit the high-stress, high-pressure job and spend more time with her family. If she were going to work, it would be a job she truly loved, run on her terms.
And three years ago, over a New Year’s Eve martini, Volk and her friend Denise Densley decided to do just that and open a clothing boutique in Volk’s garage. In business since May 2015, Style Me offers women not only clothing, but also the service of learning what looks do and do not work for their bodies.
“My passion was always to own my own business,” said Densley, a former teacher.
Volk and Densley told their stories to attendees at the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business luncheon on March 9. The organization, which meets quarterly, seeks to empower female entrepreneurs in the community and give them a chance to connect with one another.
Jenni Butz, chair of the Women in Business program, called Volk and Densley “smart business women using creativity in their business and putting their hearts in their business.”
Women who walk into the doors of Style Me are given a special experience and treated like valued clients. While sipping mimosas and munching on appetizers, they are given a complimentary style lesson to get tips on what kinds of clothes accentuate their best features. In the era of Amazon and impersonal online shopping, Volk and Densley stand up to the mass market standard and aim to provide their clients with a shopping experience that is the entire opposite.
“All of the boutiques are closing left and right because of online shopping,” Volk said. “We keep our prices down because we don’t have any overhead, and it’s all about pampering the woman … We want to be that Stitch Fix in your backyard.”
And while women of all shapes and sizes visit Style Me, a common theme among them is a feeling of self-consciousness about certain parts of their bodies, be it stomach, legs, arms or hips.
“We have so much insecurity about our bodies. It’s sad,” Volk said. “I wish I could say 99 percent of women have body image issues, but it’s not — it’s 100 percent.”
But by teaching women which body type they have (apple, pear, hourglass or rectangle) and recommending different looks to highlight and accentuate the best features of each, Volk and Densley hope to bring confidence to each and every customer.
“We love to transform women and we want them to walk out feeling like a new person,” she said.
And no doubt some of the members of Women in Business walked out of the luncheon feeling brand-new; the Style Me founders used their skills on the luncheon guests to give them a preview of the full-on Fashion 101 that happens at their shop.
“The best part of our job is styling you,” Densley said. “When women come in and want help, we love that.”
Style Me is located at 4652 243rd Court Southeast in Issaquah. For more information on hours (which change weekly), call 206-696-4325, email email@example.com or visit www.facebook.com/Stylemeissaquah.