Airbnb hosted small businesses from around LA at our American Express Shop Small Market on November 19. We are proud to spotlight some of the merchants who were there. Check out Airbnb Open Spotlight.
Body image and self-confidence go hand in hand, and stylist Melissa Chataigne believes our wardrobes can be a catalyst for change in how we see ourselves.
“Everybody should feel good in their own skin,” says Melissa, founder of Melissa Chataigne Style Studio in downtown Los Angeles. “Whether it’s for dating, or navigating your career, you should embrace who you are and own it. Be proud.”
Melissa — a Chicago-raised Haitian American, former corporate professional and entertainment stylist — makes it clear that she is “not just a style influencer” or someone you come to for advice on your next handbag. “That’s not me — I work with men and women who aren’t happy with the way they see themselves,” she says. “I really just have conversations with people — try to understand what they don’t like about themselves, try to find the catalyst for why, and help them embrace their bodies and feel comfortable with what they’re wearing. It’s much more therapy than style.”
You should embrace who you are and own it.
Melissa resides in the South Park neighborhood of downtown LA. “Downtown LA is flourishing with small businesses. It’s beautiful,” she says. “I’m in the fashion district, near a popular fashion school, and I feel so much more creative here — it’s right down my alley.”
She is ecstatic to be part of The Airbnb Open Shop Small Market, curated by American Express. “I can’t believe it,” she says. “It’s a real honor and I’m looking forward to showcasing my brand and meeting interesting people.”
The origin of Melissa’s business comes from personal experiences. “I had a sister that suffered from depression, and that made me want to dedicate my career to helping people find peace with themselves,” she says. “And also working with celebrities in Hollywood — with the strict focus on an unattainable body image — made me want to dedicate my life to helping people feel good about their body and focus on self-love.
One of the more influential aspects of her business is mentoring young girls at universities and sororities around the country. “A lot of young girls especially can have a warped view of their bodies,” she says.“When speaking with students, I mention my ‘Wonder Woman’ stance,” she says. “They’re going to be entering the workforce — they need to feel comfortable with themselves, and feel confident and authentic.”
“One student called months after my talk and was so ecstatic to tell me she got a job using some of my techniques and tips,” exclaims Melissa. “I love getting stories like that.”
My goal is to improve lives through style empowerment.
She says the initial consultations with her clients really help uncover the emotional reasonings behind their own self-image, more so than immediately trying to change their appearance. “I don’t want to put my clients in a costume,” she says. “It’s not real, it doesn’t connect with them.”
“Everything starts with the ‘why,’” she says. “‘Why don’t you like the the way you look in skirts?’ ‘Why don’t you like your shoulders?’ That’s the catalyst for change. Once you find the ‘why,’ then you start to find the limiting factors, then you can reach them, and then, you can dress them.”
Ultimately, Melissa believes everyone has the right feel good about themselves. “My goal is to improve lives through style empowerment,” she says. “It’s ok to be you!”
Photo credit: Kara Coleen