Style & Grace
Style & Grace: Amber Rhea Allen Interview
by Evan Jackson
As I talked with personal stylist and FOUR LA clothing boutique owner Amber Rhea Allen she had an exuberant nature about her. She has a grace about her that instantly draws you in. She is a stylist who not only wants people to look good but to also feel good. She stresses to me every venture she embarks on there has to have a charitable element to it. She believes in giving back to the community and creating opportunities for others with aspirations of expanding FOUR LA. Amber started in hosting and covering red carpet events, but always had that knack to be a personal stylist. In 2010 she branched out and opened up her boutique FOUR LA. Recently she has combined her talents of hosting and fashion to create the web series This Suits Him where she gives fashion tips for the modern man. Amber’s style is southern belle meets the contemporary woman. Amber Rhea Allen is a stylist for the people giving a personal touch to make you feel like a million bucks without you actually breaking the bank.
How did you get your start as an interview host and personal stylist?
My start as a host came from my decision not to cover hard news. I had a couple broadcast news internships, one when I was in high school and another while I was in college, which gave me the experience to know I did not want to do hard news. From there I had to figure out how I was going to break into entertainment and of course you have a lot of content to work with in Los Angeles. That was one of my driving factors to move to LA, to become an entertainment host. As far as styling is concerned, personal styling is a natural fit from having owned FOUR LA, a men’s and women’s clothing boutique. Being a fashion boutique owner, I always wanted to help people look their best and although people told me to only carry women’s apparel and not men’s, men were actually my best clients. I can’t say that’s where most of my sales came from because our inventory catered more towards women, but men typically know what clothing they want and rarely haggle. I feel men are underserved in the market because high fashion and fashion in general is heavily marketed towards women. There are men that want to look as dapper as they can; sometimes they need a little help with resources and how to put it together. First and foremost, I style for the people and that’s how I started my clothing store as an independent boutique to give that personalized attention and detail to the customer. When I first opened my clothing store I had bad experiences with personal stylists I encountered and I was taken advantage of. Many were opportunists. Celebrity stylists want to make themselves look good for their clients by pulling as many wardrobe options as they can. The stylists who came to my store styled movie or TV sets as well as magazine editorials and they would promise me placement, but there wasn’t really a return for me. It created a negative view of the industry, especially as a new retailer. Now as a personal stylist, it’s important to me that retailers know I am fair and will deliver on my commitments because I know what it was like.
How did you start FOUR LA?
FOUR LA started as a boutique at Mid-Melrose, in Los Angeles in 2010. We hosted a lot of events and community-based projects. Basically giving back to the community as well as selling clothes. It was always important for me to have a community feel and to exercise excellent customer service. We also worked with various celebrities. Our lease was up and we had started to do a few pop-up shops around the country prior to leaving the brick and mortar space. It was a better business model when many Melrose retailers were leaving the area and I had decided to diversify our fashion related endeavors. I wanted to still be in the fashion world and expand the company’s services.
How would you describe your personal style?
It depends on the day, but I would say its contemporary vintage. I love rummaging through my mom’s closet. I have clothing that is probably 30 or 40 years old. I like to mix different styles. I don’t want boundaries on what I can do. At the same time because of my personality and corporate business background, I tend to wear clothing that is conservative. I think with that, you’ll see a lot of blending of things that are trendy, yet conservative, and vintage. I love just being able to feel I can be myself. I don’t put the pressure on myself. People are always staying up on what is current and trendy. That’s great, but what’s really you? What’s your real style? Or are you just keeping up with the new hot product.
If you had a chance who would you style and for which event?
The people that I’m most passionate about styling are the people I’m working with on their overall portfolio. I have an affinity towards men’s fashion and the ideal client for me is a business professional, athlete, or an entertainer that has more of a mature look. I want to work with someone who is established in their career with a refined image or OK with evolving their image. I do like sports, and would love to manage a basketball or football player’s style and brand as well as their hosted charity events.
How did you come up with the idea for your web series This Suits Him?
I knew that I needed to start my own web show. It was time to start producing my own content. FOUR LA provides a great media outlet for me to cover events because of its’ following from the store’s clientele. The boutique was the platform for me to interview people and cover events. Going back to me being passionate about other people’s passions I knew that just doing event coverage wasn’t it for me and I wanted to do something different. I knew I wanted to do a show with me interviewing other people, but someone suggested I do something with my personal styling experience because that’s the direction I was building my brand. I thought there was enough fashion blogs out there, but me styling men, it’s different. I would have to be confident in the show concept of a woman talking about men’s fashion. I didn’t know if men would be receptive to it. I thought as the show evolved I would eventually get to focus on people’s passion. Currently, it is very much style focused and caters to a dapper lifestyle.
What are some tips for the man who wants to upgrade his style?
Start with what you’re comfortable with. Don’t try to be a different person all of sudden. I think you should do some research which is always important. Get inspired and don’t be scared to try new things. Make it a gradual process. I don’t recommend anyone investing in a whole new wardrobe. I think you need to take baby steps into a new image if that’s something you want to do. When you think about style, you should think about the complete look – if you wear glasses, are your glasses up to date? Your haircut could be an upgrade consideration as well.
What are some essential pieces every man needs to have in his wardrobe?
I think every man should have a great blazer. Something that fits him well, something that he can throw on with jeans, and something he can wear in a professional setting with a tie. A nice blazer jacket is essential for a man. Also an accessory piece -What is that statement item that’s your signature item. That can really add to your wardrobe too, it could be your belt, your shoes, or your wedding ring, but identify that item because people will remember that. It will become a kind of a staple.
What is the boldest thing you’ve ever done?
Definitely, I would say opening up a clothing store. This southern girl who had only been in Los Angeles about two and half years, didn’t have hardly any business resources in the area and opened up a clothing store for men and women at mid-Melrose. I don’t think I played it safe in any regard. It was a risk as all businesses are. I was also not far removed from college when I launched my start-up. As an independent business in fashion retail, it’s just you, you can’t hide behind anyone.
What are your plans for the future?
I feel so blessed. To go through the entrepreneurial process is very humbling, to say the least, especially in an unstable business like retail. For me it’s staying prayerful and being open to new things that are beyond what I can even imagine. Right now, personal styling and TV hosting are at the forefront and we’ll see how I can elevate that in the next two to three years. I am fortunate to get right back into TV hosting. Prior to opening my fashion boutique that was what I was doing. I want to continue to produce content and expand the different segments of FOUR LA. As I expand our geographic reach, I would love to have a couple offices where my teams would be located. I’m just one person; I know I can’t do it all. Also, I want to help people with their entrepreneurial ventures. I currently work with entertainers and entrepreneurs on branding and business development. A huge take away from owning a fashion boutique is people sharing with me what they’re passionate about. I’m blessed to have start-up experience and I want to share that knowledge with my clients and grow with them. That’s really what the business package of FOUR is: Fashion – Events –Media – Management. I see myself diving into other industries. Once you have entrepreneurial experience and you have other people you can collaborate with anything is possible. I definitely don’t know everything but I’m a very resourceful person. I’m excited about future collaborations that allow me to venture into other industries.
Where can people reach you?
General business inquiries: fouryou@FourLA.com
For a styling appointment: styling@FourLA.com
Wardrobe placements: wardrobe@FourLA.com
For my latest videos: Amber Rhea Allen (on YouTube)