Our calling is whitin us

I met Irina Markovits over the Internet years ago.

I was a follower – of her blog, that is. She was in charge of my “lazy week-end reading”, a permanent column I still enjoy reading.

A lady with passion for fashion, a mind for writing and a heart for sharing, Irina seems to be spreading good vibes all over the place. Cruising through her blog leaves you with the same feeling you get after spending long hours on the phone with dear friends: you just feel good while reading her posts and her lines stick with you even after you’re done reading.

Although it seems she was destined to work in the fashion industry, Irina admits it wasn’t always an easy path to pursue, but she persisted on.

Her determination and commitment are undeniable and her story brings a shimmer of hope: we all struggle to find our calling at times, but it is within us, just waiting to be found as long as we are willing to put some work, some faith and passion into it.

Irina Markovits

© Irina Markovits

Hello, Irina! And thank you for doing this!

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished a really cool project, Peroni Collaborazioni Inverno, which meant I could pick the brains of a local fashion designer but also offer some personal input and brag about my knowledge on designers’ collections, trends, lifestyle influences and so on… (I’m kidding about the bragging part!). My Monday evenings are booked with my Styling & Trends workshops with the DallesGo school and every Wednesday I’m at Calea Victoriei Cultural Foundation, talking about personal style, accessories, moodboards and body shapes.I recently started blogging for Adevarul and organized a very stylish mini-event, Shop My Wardrobe, with a sister-blogger. In between, I’m seriously planning my 2013 work calendar – a series of nation-wide weekend Style workshops (in Timisoara, Cluj, Iasi, Brasov, maybe Chisinau) and a string of fashion-themed Saturday morning chats.

You were among the pioneers in image consultancy and style coaching in Romania. What were the pros and cons of entering a blue ocean market within a raised eyebrow society?

The pioneering bit itself, opening a niche market, educating the taste and shopping habits of Romanian women were a few of the things I considered in my favor. On the other hand, kick-starting a freelance line of work previously unknown here, knowing that a style adviser/ personal shopper is yet a luxury in Romanian women’s lives, and also my personal preference for having a discrete life (though I am a people person, I don’t feel comfortable in the spotlight) came high on the con list.

Was there a point in your professional life when you decided to take a big risk in order to move forward and live your dream?

In all honesty, the leap had more to do with the changes in my personal life. Up until a year-long separation from my (now) ex-husband, I realized that if I wanted to make something of my fashion knowledge, journalism education and style know-how, I’d better take it really seriously. Not treat it as a nice-to-have job, but as a serious, important part of my life. Afterwards, every beginning of a year is a moment of re-assessing where I am, where I want to be, which road to take and, very importantly, whom I take along.

Do you remember your first shopping spree as style consultant? How did that go?

Oh my god, I remember it as it was yesterday! I was a total nervous wreck, not just because I was about to meet my first ever personal shopping client, but also because it was a guy! He needed help shopping for his girlfriend, but as a starting point I only had a photo of her, not the person herself. It was a really cool experience, one of the first times where I witnessed how different men react to shopping compared to women. They’re way more objective-oriented, they don’t care about how a garment makes them “feel”. That’s just for us, girls…

What is your top style advice?

Always be nice to yourself when you look in the mirror. Treat each day as a style exercise. Always evolve style-wise, so you won’t get caught at 40 dressing the same as you did at 20. Don’t spend all your money on clothes 🙂

Name some of your “signature” items (read clothing, jewellery, shoes etc.).

I’m really fickle when it comes to “signature” items, so there’s none really. This (2012) was my “statement-necklace-and-chunky-bracelets-worn-on-both-arm-wrists” year. Last year was all about earrings and colourful clothes. Right now, I’m totally in love with three necklaces (one is a baroque, intricate, layered, golden piece, the second one is a bib necklace with blue and green faceted stones and the third one has these big iridescent, angular clear stones), but that’s because my clothing style has become very neutral and simple.

On your blog (yes! I am a faithful reader) you feature a lot of colors. What color(s )describe(s) you best as a person?

I honestly couldn’t tell, but I know I look my best in emerald green and navy blue.

One of the questions I like to ask is about mentors. Is there anyone in particular who has been a constant source of inspiration for you?

Yes (and please don’t laugh): Batman, Wonder Woman and Seinfeld. J

You come off as a powerful, level-headed woman – where does this inner strengths come from?

I believe in a Margaret Thatcher’s quote: “If you have to say you’re a lady, you aren’t”. Maybe it has to do with age, life experiences, I don’t really know… But I always thought that if you mind your business, are true to who you are and don’t seek the validation of others, life is less stressful.

Reading between the lines of your posts, I feel as if you are so well attuned to your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Is this in your nature or did you have your fair share of soul-searching?

Both. It is in my nature to question everything, to look for explanations in order to find clarity of mind or, when that is not possible, to put a name to a feeling. I’ve also had my times of self ass-kicking, of rebuilding my life, my friend network, my life values…

What was a moment of breakthrough this year?

It came during a beautiful, sunny day in May. I was driving on a very empty, uphill and very twisted stretch of road somewhere in the north of the country, when the music in my car stopped and I could literally hear the wind whooshing. I stopped the car on the side of the road and had this amazing, overwhelming rush of thoughts: the things I accomplished on my own (especially when people around me thought I couldn’t), the really memorable people I have met in the previous year, how real kindness and grace are still around, but also how I missed plenty of nice things in my life because I focus too much “on the road”. It was a kind of a “do I live for work or work to live” moment…

How do you declutter your mind after a really busy day?

That depends on my mood. I have days when all I really need is a good laugh, with a goofy sit-com (I’m watching 30 Rock right now). Most of the time, though, I read before bed. I rarely go shopping for myself now  – I go shopping for other so often, that I find it tiring, there’s too much information overload, and every time I’m in a mall I go grrrrrrr – and I hate long, bubbly baths and the works …

What is your favorite comfort food?

A red lentil and coconut milk Thai curry, called dahl. It takes me about 20 minutes to whip it up and it’s yummy beyond belief!

Name one cool artist (painter/designer/actor/musician) you discovered this year.

Florence and the Machine.

What was the last inspirational book you read?

Alain de Botton’s Architecture of Happiness.

Where do you feel most “at home” (read city, place, café, reading nook etc.)?

 The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

Truth (A) or Dare (B):

B – I know you love fashion and books so much, so here’s a challenge: Name one fictional character in (desperate) need for a wardrobe assessment and a style coaching session. What would you suggest?

B – I’d love to raid Bridget Jones’ wardrobe, get rid of her granny pants and take her shopping.

Thank you, Irina, for your time! This has been a real treat!

Friends, be sure to check out her blog here or join her classes on style here and here.