UNC Charlotte - B.A. Psychology
University of South Carolina - M.Ed. Higher Education Administration
Lori Bumgarner spent 10 years as a career adviser at various colleges and universities, including most recently Vanderbilt University, guiding students to follow their passion. While Lori enjoyed helping young professionals meet and oftentimes exceed their goals, she found her own creativity and passion lagging. So Lori took a leap of faith and combined her love of music, style and helping others to create paNASH Style.
Born just blocks from Nashville’s famed Music Row, paNASH Style is an image consulting company that provides wardrobe styling and interview coaching to Grammy-award winners, chart toppers and up-and-coming artists. In fact, Lori takes the most pride from working with stars on the cusp of their careers; just like the students she advised. In the end, it’s all about helping each client, regardless of who they are, achieve their own success and present their best self.
Learn early on how to develop balance in all areas of your personal and professional life.
What responsibilities do you have as an image consultant and media coach for recording artists?
I help them develop an image, which includes a physical look/wardrobe for their performances/appearances/photo and video shoots, a professionally-written bio, presentation skills in their media interviews and presentation/interview skills for independent artists who are currently being shopped to a label.
How did you decide a job in this field was right for you?
I had worked for years as a college career adviser, helping people on the cusp of their careers best present themselves to potential employers, including how to dress and how to handle specific questions and situations. I eventually found my creativity being stifled in this sector and began brainstorming how I could recapture my creativity while still helping people with their career pursuits using the skills I had.
I live in Nashville and, at the time, worked at Vanderbilt University, just two blocks from Music Row. That's when it dawned on me that there are so many musicians and songwriters coming to Nashville who have the talent, but need help polishing and presenting themselves to key players in the industry who can help advance their careers. And now, I get to combine my love for music and my creative style with my expertise in career advising and interview coaching.
What was it like to strike out on your own and become your own boss?
Scary! Exhilarating! Freeing! I had to follow my own advice I'd been giving college students about networking. Even though I worked only two blocks from Music Row, I had ZERO contacts in the music industry and had to start making them by networking and doing informational interviews.
What is your favorite part of your job?
While I love shopping and styling others, the interview and media coaching is my favorite part because that's when I really get to know the client and who they are deep down.
I also love the fact that every day is different and I get to work in various environments -- think stores and boutiques, photo and video shoots, rehearsal halls, people's homes -- instead of being stuck behind a desk all day.
In addition, I'm grateful that I have clients from all walks of life -- business owners, authors, actors, job seekers, career changers, busy moms -- who ask me to help them with their image and their interview skills.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
How to properly manage the growth of my business.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Starting my own business required the sacrifice of my social life, especially in the beginning when there was neither much time nor money to go out like I used to. It's difficult to find the time and energy to spend with friends after working so hard night and day to build your business. I'm trying to be better about carving out time with mature and understanding friends and having balance in that area of my life, while also setting healthy boundaries with those who can be needy or emotionally draining (a lesson well learned). But most of all, my no-fail tactic is to always make time each morning for prayer and Bible study, no matter what time I have to get up to do so. This allows me to go about my day with peace, despite the chaos around me.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
A lot of people ask me, “Who's someone famous you’ve worked with?” which I guess is the measuring stick of success for them, but for me, if a famous person I've worked with looked bad or didn’t present themselves well, would that really say anything about my abilities or my success just because of who they were? I prefer to work with up-and-coming artists who are on the cusp of their careers and their own success.
In our sessions, I ask them similar questions, like “What are your short-term and long-term goals? How will you know you’ve made it? What's your own personal definition of success?” When I know I’ve had a part in helping my clients reach their own successes, even their short-term goals, those are the moments when I know I’ve made it. And when my clients tell me what I've done for them has benefited them in other areas of their lives besides their careers, that’s when I know I’ve REALLY made it.
What are some of the rules you live by?
I always allow God to work through me and use me as a vessel to make a difference with the gifts He's given me, like the ability to be an encouragement to people who are in an industry where they have to face a ton of scrutiny and rejection.
I also try not to work with clients who seem to be pursuing a music career only for the fame or because they care more about the fame than their art. It's too difficult to try to build an image or a brand around something that doesn't have a good foundation or is in it for the wrong reasons.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
To be a business owner, especially in the music industry, you have to have a thick skin and you have to develop a great deal of discernment.
To be a wardrobe stylist, you have to be able to build trust with your clients and help them feel comfortable with you since styling is such a personal thing (we have to talk about appropriate undergarments, what kinds of clothing makes them feel self-conscious, etc.).
To be a media coach, you have to be able to help the client know how to articulate his or her uniqueness. That typically requires "peeling the onion" to help the client see for themselves what makes them special. You have to challenge them to take an honest look at themselves and then show them how to present both their strengths and their weaknesses in a positive light.
In all of these roles, my undergraduate degree in psychology has really come in handy!
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Learn early on how to develop balance in all areas of your personal and professional life. Since I provide more than one type of image consulting service to a variety of clients and I'm often writing and giving presentations at various colleges, music industry events and other speaking engagements, I've had no choice but to learn this firsthand.
How can people other than recording artists benefit from your services?
I take the principles I teach my recording artists and show others how those same principles can apply to their own personal and professional success. I do this through relevant advice provided on my blog, in my best-selling Amazon book, "Advance Your Image" and in my one-on-one image consulting sessions, either in person or via Skype. I work hard to make all of my clients feel like a star!