Libby Romano identified a problem, and so she set out to solve it. With a growing stack of unused gift cards in her own wallet, she realized that many busy moms have no time or energy to shop for themselves--never mind find specific pieces that meet a specific budget at a specific store to use a specific gift card, And so with experience as a personal stylist under her designer belt, she launched a service to help women use the collective forgotten $1 billion dollars worth of gift cards that unused each year.
It's an easy-breezy process that yields super stylish customized results. LUXYMOM™ makes it simple for mamas--they answer ten questions about their gift card, budget, style and shopping wishes, and then she create a shoppable digital Look Book that gets emailed directly to them. And then it's as effortless as "click to buy."
As mamas on a mission to find solutions for other time-pressed parents, we love this idea! And so we chatted with Libby about her inspiration, her styling process, and her keen ability to spend your "free money!"
What inspired you to start the service?
A few months ago, I had an interaction with one of my best friends that led to the “ah-ha” moment for this idea. We were having a conversation about shopping, and she told me she had an $80 gift card to Nordstrom that she wanted to use to buy a pair of ripped jeans for $150 or less, but she had so far been unsuccessful.
My personal stylist ears perked up, because I knew I could help her. I started digging, and I sent her a few links to pairs I thought she’d like. And she ended up purchasing one of my suggestions – a great pair of Paige jeans that were on sale.
And this is how the gift card styling service was born. It really resonated with me that there are so many people with unused gift cards sitting around their houses. They literally have free money AT THE READY – and they’re either wasting their gift cards (to the tune of $1 billion annually) or they’re selling them to companies who buy them up… And I ask you, how are you going to look into the eyes of the person who gave you that gift and tell them you SOLD it!
To validate the fact that even I was guilty of wasting a gift card, I looked into an envelope where I keep the gift cards I receive, and I had ten. TEN! I vowed at that moment to spend them and not let them go to waste.
My service is free, and it’s a fun way to have a personal stylist help you decide what to spend with your gift card. As far as I’m concerned, everyone should try this out. I’m solving a very expensive problem!
What factors do you take into consideration when shopping/styling someone? What info do you use as a jumping off point?
I want to get to know my customers as well as I would if we were having an in-person styling session, because this helps me choose the best pieces for them. When you style someone in person, you get to know who they are, what their preferences are, what their lifestyle is like. I’ve designed my online form to mimic that initial conversation I’d have with an in-person styling client.
The form is super easy to fill out, and yet I keep my response fields open-ended, so people can give me as much information as they want. They can even upload a photo of themselves, or a picture of an outfit or item they’d like to find!
This is a listing of the retailers whose gift cards I currently service, and the list will continue to grow.
Is it a collaborative process? Take us through the steps.
This is a very easy, non-invasive service. I’ve set it up as a simple, two-step process, unless I absolutely need more information or someone wants to go more in-depth with me.
1. Simply fill out my form, which takes thirty seconds or less in most cases;
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2. And then, I create and email you a beautiful, customized Look Book with my recommendations. It gets sent to you within a few days, and includes a ton of clickable photos. You can literally just click on any photo in the Look Book and be taken to the retailer’s site, where you can make your purchase (and use that gift card). NO MORE WASTING GIFT CARDS (FREE MONEY) EVER AGAIN! And you can actually call your friend who gave you that card and tell her what you got with it.
What’s been your favorite gift card styling session? What did you get for your customer?
I received an inquiry from a mom of two young kids, who works two jobs. She’s a nurse and a yoga instructor, so she’s incredibly busy, and has almost no time to ever go shopping for herself.
She loved the Look Book and recommendations, and she told me she thought this service was so cool and that there are probably a lot of other women just dying to have a personal stylist help them out – especially because of my style philosophy, which is to dress you like the It Girls. So the things I’m recommending are not frumpy. They’re incredibly stylish, and you’re always going to look great. And they’re always within your budget.
She had a gift card to White House Black Market, and I sent her a ten page Look Book with 23 clickable images, and she had so much fun shopping for herself without having to leave her house or wonder if the pieces were actually stylish.
What’s your favorite store to get a gift card from? Give from?
Some stores I love to both give and receive gift cards from include Nordstrom, Revolve, Net-A-Porter, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and every mom’s favorite – Target! I’ve literally been there five days in a row as of this moment. And I also shop locally, so I love to pick up gift cards from small boutiques or designers that I know people who live near me are going to love.
Recently, I received two gift cards to Sur La Table from separate family members who knew that I love to cook and entertain, and who knew that I was gearing up to host a lot of company at my home in Naples over the months of January and February. I had those cards promptly spent within a week, on champagne flutes, outdoor pizza oven supplies, and more!
Do you plan on growing this service beyond gift cards?
Yes, absolutely. I’m always focused on growth. What I want to do is to make personal styling accessible to moms, and I think there are a few ways I can do this.
I’m also currently working on my It Girl Style Report, which is set to launch April 1. It’s essentially a monthly, digital – shoppable - magazine. Every issue will focus on a style trend or an It Girl, and will detail how to get a certain style. It’ll include clickable, shoppable links just like my gift card styling service, and it’s just going to be a super fun way to shop.
The subscription is only $10 annually, or $2 for a one-off issue. This makes it incredibly accessible to have a digital – shoppable – magazine that’s created by a personal stylist. You can go to LUXYMOM.com and sign up now to get on my pre-order list.
To help moms learn how to create wardrobes that even the It Girls would covet – and to show them that it’s actually affordable and something they can achieve every day in a very easy way – this is what makes me excited to do this every day.
What staples should a woman be shopping for now as we head into spring? What trendy pieces?
I love the idea of continually growing a collection of staples that will go with you through the seasons and the years. If you purchase well, you’ll have items that last twenty years or more.
Some great staples include a pair of classic denim, layering tanks, a structured blazer or trench coat, classic sweaters, and a little black dress. You’ll wear them so many times, and you can even spend a little more on these pieces, knowing your cost per wear (calculated as the dollar amount you spend on them divided by the number of times you wear them) will be low. They’ll have great value.
Add in a few trendy pieces each season, and don’t feel bad about spending less on these items, because you’ll likely wear them less, and they’ll go out of style more quickly.
Tip: I actually put pieces into storage when they go out of style, because I found that what goes out of fashion, will eventually come back in.