Tona Michelle is a published, professional style consultant/ wardrobe stylist helps professional men and women define or re-define his or her own personal style. Tona, is also the
Founder & Owner of Misty Bleu Beauty & Fashion Boutique and Tona Michelle Cosmetics, has a combination of more than 17 years in fashion and beauty industry.
In 2008, Tona took on a job as a Make-up Artist for independent film “Misunderstandings”. Her work was well received by the producers, later making her the Key Make-up
Artist for the film. Tona would then go on to work on another independent film “God’s Truce”, music video “Break Your Waistline” and her first magazine cover for “I am Modern” magazine. She has also freelanced written for online and print magazines DC Fashion News, Élan Extreme Magazine and Demand Studios. She also had two columns as the DC U Street Fashion Examiner for Examiner online.
In 2010 she launched her cosmetics and skin care brand Tona Michelle’ Cosmetics. In 2018 Tona relaunched her online beauty & fashion shop, Misty Bleu.
Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work?
I first learned about fashion at the age of 5 when my father purchased me a sewing machine. Then around ages 9-10, an aunt taught me to design and sew clothing for my Barbie dolls.
What was the most difficult part of starting?
The most difficult part for me was deciding if I wanted to do beauty or fashion. Also being consistent and staying on track even when things weren’t going as planned. Also not having a plan for how of was going to do business. I’ve never been much of a planner and it showed in the way I was conducting business. So my advice for you newcomers is to plan, plan and plan some more. It doesn’t have to be perfect in order to start but you do want to have some direction.
What was your path that lead you to the job you have now?
My path to styling started when I took home economics in middle school. In that class I learned more about sewing on a machine, knitting and crocheting. I took this class again in high school. I also participated in talent shows where modeling was apart of it. I’d also dress and makeup the neighborhood girls and have little runway shows in my backyard.
In my mid 20’s I went to beauty school and became a licensed makeup artist. After school I worked with local movie producers and makeup clients to provide my services. I later started my brand of cosmetics and skin care. Shortly after I opened an online consignment boutique. After some time, I realized I loved styling more than selling clothing which lead me here to being a fashion stylist. Although, your journey will start differently from where you ultimately want to be, don’t give up. The key is to explore different areas in order to reach your destination.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
The first piece of advice that comes to mind is that you can’t build a business around family and friends. They are not your target audience. Don’t get upset when they aren’t supporting or buying. This was a hard pill to swallow. I took me a while to get over this.
If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?
Create more clothing designs. Work closely with a good reliable seamstress. Grow my personal brand.
What’s the first app, website or thing you open/do in the morning?
I hate to admit it but I check my emails, horoscope and then open Instagram and Facebook.
Where do you go when you need inspiration for your work?
Usually I check out style influencers I follow on Instagram, fashion magazines, television and movies.
What's the most fun part of your job?
Being able to create and make beautiful clothing designs and stylish photoshoots for magazine submissions is the fun part for me. I love to create fashion. It's my happy place!
Are there certain types of looks that photograph best?
For me there isn’t one look that photographers better than another. I do believe you need the right chemistry amongst the models/clients, photographers, hair and makeup artists. When all of these are right, then the looks will flow.
What should girls steer clear of?
My biggest advice would be to steer clear of wearing clothing that doesn’t fit properly. Dress for the size you are now and don’t be afraid to experiment with fashion. Fashion is more than just pieces of materials. It’s an extension of you!
What's your philosophy on the high low-mix? What are some of your go-to approachable brands?
I’ve personally never been a label chaser. I shop anywhere; from discount stores, thrift stores, Walmart and Target. I believe that having confidence in yourself is the key to your style. When you’re confident it doesn’t matter if the clothing is from a secondhand store or high end retailer. You wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you!
I love a lot of vintage clothing, no brand in particular. I also like Alice & Olivia, The Blonds, Gary Graham and Feonel, and Nieves Lavi just to name a few.
What's one thing you'd never put a client in?
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t put a client in. I like to work with the clients to make them feel comfortable. I tend to go against what they’d usually wear and expose them to something new. It’s about getting them out of their comfort zone and to enhance and develop their signature style. It all comes back to being confident.