We had the good fortune of connecting with Risa Kostis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Risa, how do you think about risk?
Becoming an entrepreneur has been all about risk for me. From the moment I decided to leave college to pursue a career in hair, makeup and fashion, I knew I would be taking a gamble by choosing a non-traditional path. My belief is that without risk, there’s no chance to push yourself beyond whatever limitations you may believe are there, thus no opportunity to see if there could ultimately be a great reward. I took a risk by leaving college, moving out of Maine to Boston, moving across the country to San Francisco, then back again when I moved to New York City for a job I had no formal experience in. This all happened at a time when leaving a four-year school was very taboo, so I took a big leap toward the unknown. The beautiful thing, however, about making risky moves and spontaneous decisions is that you end realizing that business is all about those types of decisions no matter what. Although making calculated moves often bodes much safer and feels less stressful, you never know what can happen from one day to the next. I truly believe that every decision I’ve made to inch toward my ultimate goal was made knowing I might fall, but that I’d be stronger, smarter and more resilient because of it. When you decide to start a business, you’re not only risking the outcome. There’s a lot more on the line than finances or failure, there’s the risk that you may lose time not earning the way you might if you were collecting a paycheck, which is something I’ve always wondered about but have moved beyond. There’s also the risk that the people around you might not understand the ins and outs of your greater purpose or big dreams. I’ve experienced a lot of loss along my professional journey, but what I’ve come to realize decades later is that the people around you that don’t champion what you’re doing, weren’t meant to be part of your journey anyway. Today, I’m surrounded by fellow business owners and a support system of women that cheer me on rather than question my vision or grapple with who I am as an entrepreneur.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
With everything that’s gone on in 2020, I’ve had to rework my company structure in my styling business and we also had to make a lot of adjustments on the product line. I took the summer to reimagine my brand under the umbrella of my name and launched a brand new site that showcases everything I offer in one place. If there’s anything I’ve learned from this year it’s that doing what makes you happy should be your number one priority, so I adjusted my offerings to be the services that bring me the most joy and expanded to be more of a lifestyle site showcasing my favorite picks of the month and items people can shop in a magazine inspired layout. I’m also gearing up to release a Referral Guide of my favorite consulting recommendations here in the valley. Since my clients and my social media audience look to me as not only a style consultant, but as a connector, I realized it was time to share more of what I know and help people choose great people to work with. It’s been fun to have a “shopping” area on the site and curate resale and retail finds, as well as be a great resource for the community. Additionally, we are full steam ahead with The Rescue Kit Company and recently launched our second signature fashion emergency kit, The Closet Kit. Since the wedding industry took such a major hit this year, our Bride Kit didn’t take off the way we hoped, but we focused on marketing and were ready with the next kit. We’re starting to see a lot of momentum now that a new season has begun and our offerings have increased. Thankfully, weddings are starting to resume and we’ve had a ton of support from some big names like Bobbie Thomas, Hayley Paige, and Valerie Darling. Needless to say, I haven’t slowed down with work!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love this question! I love being a hostess and taking care of people, but most of all I love connecting the businesses I believe in with the people I care about the most. The best can’t-miss restaurants from brunch to dinner are: LGO Marketplace for coffee and breakfast on-the-fly, Elly’s for a good outdoor, sit-down breakfast, Fame for the best oat-milk latte and avocado toast, and Rokerij for an amazing mimosa and unmatched southwest-inspired brunch in central Phoenix. When it comes to lunch I love Chop Shop for a healthy salad or smoothie option, Ingo’s for the best chicken sandwich and frozen greyhound, and Los Dos Molinos for a traditional Mexican option. Dinner in Phoenix is my favorite, as we have some of the best chefs in the country. I’m from Maine originally so The Salt Cellar is my all-time favorite for authentic seafood and a great reverse happy hour bar scene, Buck and Rider for a central indoor/outdoor sushi and seafood scene, The House Brasserie for intimate indulgence, and Steak 44 for a great bar and luxury experience. I worked in hospitality for years, so I love dining out. For experiences, I love a day trip to Sedona or an overnight stay at L’Auberge de Sedona, a hike at Piestewa Peak, a visit to the Japanese Friendship Garden, and a spa day at The Montelucia or Sanctuary Resort. I also love to golf, so playing Grayhawk or a Troon course is typically on my list as well. When the weather is nice I love sitting by a fire at The Biltmore, and there’s nothing like going to a Phoenix Suns or Diamondbacks game too. We’re so lucky to get to experience so much outdoor living, and even though we’re not really a walking city, there are endless ways to enjoy being outside.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have SO many shoutouts to give to the people that have helped me on my journey. I love giving credit to the people around me as it’s nearly impossible to have success without having support. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered a group of women that quickly turned into my biggest cheerleaders and best friends. The Powerhouse Women community created by community builder and mentor Lindsey Schwartz, is largely responsible for a shift in professional confidence I’ve had over the last couple of years. Without Powerhouse Women, there’s absolutely no way I would have been able to grow as a business owner or even show up the way I needed to for both myself and the people around me. One of my motto’s is that you’re only as good as the team or people around you, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I now show up bigger and more confident as a female solopreneur than I would have without this community. Additionally, there are some women I do business with that have been on my creative team who have been by my side for the most important moments in my life and career. Nicole Evans, Azure Schaffer, and Tracy Battaglia are a collective of business owners that I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to. Together they make up my hair, makeup and photography team, but they are also some of my biggest supporters and friends. I believe in building lasting relationships, and these women have shown a level of loyalty and trust, proving time and time again that those two attributes are the cornerstone of a great business relationship. One of the best resources I’ve had over the last couple of years is also my library of podcasts that I subscribe to. I’m so motivated by hearing other people’s success stories and I believe in infusing that with physically surrounding yourself with inspirational people who think on a large scale at all times. My favorite podcast series is How I Built This with Guy Raz, but I also love supporting my brilliant friends and listen to Powerhouse Women, Working Girl Talk, The Celebrated Life, Finding Arizona, and Earn Your Happy. Lastly, my business partner in my newest venture The Rescue Kit Company, my sister Jessica. She’s believed in me and championed me my entire life, and now I get to work with her every day. I never would have been able to start the product line without her, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank her for taking the leap and working around the clock with me to keep the company going. In fact, I have two sisters and although I’m only in business with one, they have both always believed in everything I do.
Instagram: @risakostis + @ristyle_consulting + @therescuekitco
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/risakostis/
Fully Alive Photography, Marisa Belle Photography, Round Lens Photography, Azure Schaffer, Nicole Evans, The Sparkle Bar, WayL.A. Studios, The Omni Montelucia El Chorro