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How she did it: Aliya Thomas

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

Each month we feature inspirational women who've made it to the other side of career change. Learn how they did it and take away usable tips from their career journeys! This month, we're proud to feature personal stylist Aliya Thomas!

Aliya's 20+ years in the fashion industry have led her from model, to mom, and now Founder of Elevated Style By Aliya. She believes every woman deserves to discover and define her best self.

What is your personal mantra, mission or manifesto?

I have 2 :) (1.) Don't be afraid to ask for what you want (2.) "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

What inspired you to launch your current career/launch your business?

Long story short ... I started my company 4 years ago. I left an industry after 15+ years and decided to be a SAHM for awhile. 2 years at home turned into 6. At that time, I'd had the idea for my company for almost 8 years. Shortly after I turned 40, my grandmother ( who'd been a significant force in my life) died. I literally woke up one day and it was like a switch was flipped. I knew it was now or never. I had to just START. Even through the fear, I started Elevated Style By Aliya. I knew what I had to share, and my mission of helping women step into their best self through image and style, cultivating confidence and inspiration was/is a life passion, and brings me so much joy. Best decision ever. I haven't looked back.

What is unique about returning/pivoting in midlife? Challenges & opportunities?

It's been a challenge creating something of your own from scratch and reinventing yourself outside of the corporate part of my industry (in fashion). However, the challenge was exactly what I was looking forward to. I welcomed leaving an industry that no longer vibed with who I was. I looked forward to giving back to women exactly what I felt the industry hadn't. The pivot was/is tough especially now dealing with Covid and homeschooling, but you make it happen. I feel I have no choice. I'm still raising 2 elementary school boys and it's important for me to have them see me more than just their mom.

What’s one intention you have for your work this year?

Great question! My word of the year is JOY. Whatever goals I have, or whatever I bring to clients, within my life (personally and professionally) must first start from the premise of cultivating joy, big or small. If it doesn't, I'm on the wrong track.

What are you most passionate about right now?

I'm passionate about becoming financially independent, being the first in my family who has taken a different path and became an entrepreneur, and focusing on my "why". My "why" is always to inspire others and my family.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I can write an entire page on this. I'll keep it brief though. Each day varies. I've learned to wake up each day setting the intention of 2 things I need/want to accomplish. I always have a list of more than 2, but the reality is, if I get those 2 priorities done, it's a win. I start waking before my boys and husband, to set my intentions, stretch and meditate (in the shower while the house is quiet:) Then it's a focus on homeschooling a 2nd and 4th grader. My husband and I are both working from home and do our work by dealing with the kids in 2 hour shifts. That has worked well for our family. Those working hours may be creating content for social, writing articles for thought leadership, maybe some online shopping for clients, and of course there's seeing clients virtually. There's always some outdoor time with the kids to move ur bodies. My day starts at 5:45a, ends at 10p. Once the kids are in bed I have a few hours to myself to veg out, read, watch, talk to a friend, or listen to what inspires me. I try to cut off work by 5p most days if I can.

What’s the one thing that has advanced your career in the last year?

Investing in myself and my business, by working with a scaling coach that has worked wonders for me. Also, maintaining community with other female founders/women in business to lean on, or seek advice when I need it has been priceless.

Who’s your “tribe” when it comes to professional inspiration or support?

My coach, friends, clients who have become friends, and my women's networking communities. (Luminary & The NoW NYC)

Favorite book, app or podcast?

Podcast: How She Built That

You’re granted an extra hour in the day, how do you spend it?

By myself reading, working out, or grabbing a casual glass of wine with a friend (pre co-vid of course)

The advice I wish I had given to my 20 year old self is…

Don't be so caught up in what others think about you. Half the time people don't even care as much much as we think they do, yet be base our decisions for self on others. Follow your heart/gut, but with a sound mind. Learn to trust yourself first.

The advice that I want to give to my 75 year old self is...

Let go more. Everything doesn't matter as much as we think it does. And enjoy simple pleasures more :)

Your theme song that played every time you walked in a room would be?

This Girl Is on Fire - Alicia Keys (Not because of anything I do, but more so how the song makes me feel ... like a strong woman who feels empowered and bright like fire!

Best career advice for other women?

You don't always have to reinvent the wheel, learn from the best and create your own version. I'll also say what I said up top ... don't be afraid to ask for what you want. (Yet you have to know what you want first to be able to clearly ask for it.)

When did you feel you got “you” back?

About 2 years ago, feeling a good stride in my business, and owning the big goals I want to reach. It's empowering to be in business for your self, although a challenge, but amazing.

What’s up next?

Growing my biz into offering corporate programming, more travel, and more of the same ... doing what I love and what brings me JOY!


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