A Real-Life Career Girl: Interview with Shauna Mackenzie, CEO of Best Kept Self
I came across Shauna Mackenzie through an obvious form of free advertising, social media and became intrigued after reading about her and her business savvy career. She may be best known for her work in image consulting, but Mackenzie is also a fearless leader in the business world. She bravely started her first business at the age of 22 in 2007, Best Kept Self (formerly Mackenzie Image consulting), which she describes as a “one-stop-shop for women looking to feel, look and live more confident.” “We offer traditional one-on-one virtual/live consultations in the areas of style, nutrition coaching,” says Mackenzie, “and even coaching for working moms in addition to online program, challenges and webinars.”
Mackenzie also owns The Studio for Image Professionals, which opened in 2010 and is a company catering to aspiring image consultants and personal stylists. “I was being asked by other people how to get into the field,” says Mackenzie. “So after three years of being in the field, I decided to enter the training side of the industry and roll out workshops and online classes for people to learn how to become an image consultant. Now, we not only provide workshops [live and online] but offer a six week certification school that is run twice a year so people can walk away with credentials to start their business.”
Perhaps what impressed me the most is her ability to continue to invest in herself, even while running successful businesses, something I hope to achieve one day. Mackenzie, who received her undergraduate degree in Communication and Entrepreneurship from the University of Iowa, just recently, also obtained her master’s from Gonzaga University in Communication and Leadership. While she acknowledges that gender is sometimes an issue in today’s business world, Mackenzie says she rarely thinks about it. “There’s been only a small handful of instances where these dynamics [being a woman in business] have come into play in my career,” said Mackenzie. “I’m surrounded by some pretty awesome men who seem to ‘get it.’ I also do believe that there are plenty of supportive men out there who definitely appreciate and admire the women who are doing great work.
She married her husband in March 2013, whom she sees as “the best husband in the world.” While they both self-employed, Mackenzie says they have to separate themselves from work to focus on each other, which also benefits each of their careers, giving them time to “refresh, recharge and get reinspired”. “I do my best to check-in with myself to make sure I’m not overwhelmed, saying yes to too many things, and to simplify my life,” says Mackenzie. “I find that balance comes so much easier when you simplify and streamline in as much ways as you can.”
I couldn’t help but ask Ms. Mackenzie what she thought about the current state of women’s progress and what her take was on the whole “women in the workplace” debate. She admits that women being underpaid, undervalued and not recognized nearly as much as men, is an “obvious reality.” “We can’t ignore that,” says Mackenzie. “But we also can’t assume that the responsibility for changing does not fall on us women as individuals. Women need to be comfortable feeling like they are of value first before this can change. We need to be okay with knowing we are great, with feeling we are great and with letting people know we are great.” (Insert applause here).
Mackenzie attributes her success to “the people around and surrounding myself with people that are positive, forward-thinking, and actively staying open to criticism, feedback and suggestions for change.” Mackenzie says that there is no perfect time to start a business, you just need to start. “I see a lot of women stall their business launch because the website doesn’t look the way they want it or they don’t love their business cards. In the beginning, the most important thing to do is do. The other things will fall in line once you gain momentum and start bringing in revenue. Sometimes it’s okay to settle – especially in these early moments when you’re just beginning. You’re settling for the sake of doing and that’s the exact reason you won’t have to settle in the future.”
For more information on Mackenzie’s image consulting, visit www.bestlkeptself.com .