After living in Paris for 5 years and falling in love with the art of dressing and styling her personal friends, Priya Virmani headed back to the US and founded Privee by Priya. From closet-editing to shopping and complete style overhauls, Priya helps working moms find their style while sticking to their budgets. We’re inspired by her dedication to helping other women find their confidence, her work with Dress for Success, and all the fun adventures with her family around New Jersey, like the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn. Read on to see how this finance professional swapped careers and took the leap into NJMOMpreneurship.
Founder of Privée by Priya & NJMOMpreneur Priya Virmani
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Priya: Privée by Priya clients are working moms. They are either re-entering the workforce after a few years off, changing industries, getting back to work after maternity leave, moving up in their careers or starting their own businesses. The biggest thing I offer them is confidence via style. I believe style is your unspoken language. By helping these busy moms find and define their style, I am taking away the dreaded days of second-guessing their outfits or those that start with “I have nothing to wear.” Working with me allows for efficient and consistent dressing.
I offer a closet edit as the first step. This stage is really to purge the closet of ill-fitting, outdated, run down clothes, accessories and shoes. Once the closet is lean and ready, I make a list of items we need to shop for based on lifestyle and budget. My client meets me at a store we pick and enter a fitting room full of just what she needs. It is like walking into a candy store! As a final step, the new items are integrated into the existing wardrobe. I create complete outfits (including shoes and accessories), print these photos into a personalized lookbook for easy reference.
I aim to make dressing easy so that my clients have the extra time with their kids or doing what they need rather than stressing over outfits or shopping. I work well in mixing high end, luxury brands with low-end brands. And I love a good sale for myself and my clients!
Just do it! If you have an idea and have the drive then take the first step and try. Each mini step leads to the next and before you know it you have a website. You find yourself telling people what you do and that in itself is humbling and empowering. – Priya, NJMOMpreneur
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Priya: I moved to NJ from Paris. My 5 years as an expat in Europe taught me to appreciate the art of dressing like I had never done so before. I started styling my friends informally even when I was not asked! After we moved back to the US, I went back to finance. But I never felt passionate about it. Et voila, I formalized my styling with a 3-month course and launched my business, Privee by Priya.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Priya: Meeting wonderful, hardworking moms. I am inspired by each and every one of my clients. They are dedicated to their families and their work. I am a firm believer in women helping women. I get to do this. It is empowering to see my clients feel happy.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Priya: I have spent many years as a product developer and marketer for a large financial services company. These skills coupled with a styling business course helped me kickstart my business. I also have an MBA. I was able to use much of what I learned there to become a solo-preneur.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Priya: It is the little things. Getting pictures of my clients while they are presenting at conferences wearing a “full Priya outfit” makes me so joyful. Sticking to my client’s budget but yet completing her closet. Donating my time to women who cannot afford me (I would like to do more of this).
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Priya: I am obsessed with putting together the perfect outfit for myself and my clients. A bit cliche (and over the top perhaps) but I wake up with style solutions in the middle of the night. I think style is not fluff or materialistic. Lastly, I do not push trends. I push style.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Priya: I hope to be speaking at more conferences for working moms. I will be at Rutgers speaking about Executive presence and Appearance this spring. I hope to style for TV or other media outlets. I have reached out to Dress for Success and want to do more pro bono work.
Personally, I would like to participate in some sort of fitness challenge. I also want to only shop consignment for myself. Buying used is so healthy for our planet. We tend to focus on plastic and recycling. This is recycling of a different kind.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Priya: If Dress for Success comes through on ways I can assist them, then it will be a great start for me. I would like to help college kids learn to present themselves for interviews and jobs.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Priya: My dad. A man who worked a full-time job and started his own business. He never gave up and always found a solution to every problem. I get my passion, impatience and motivation from him. On a less personal level, Michelle Obama. And anyone who is involved in reducing gun violence in this world.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Priya: My mom always told me to enjoy the journey. I realize how important that is for me today as a solopreneur. There are days when I am struggling with networking, booking new clients, writing my blog, and being a mom that I forget how much I am growing every single minute. I am a role model to my two girls and I want them to see me flourish in this journey no matter the success of my business.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
Style is your unspoken language.”
I believe in first impressions (93% of 1st impressions are nonverbal). I believe that what you wear sets the tone for your day. If that tone is one of confidence then I have done my job in helping women conquer their day.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Priya: We are a family who loves to eat. Especially now that my girls are 12 and 15 years old! We visit Ninety Acres often. The restaurant has a fantastic culinary school and restaurant. Plus, the area surrounding it makes for good hikes and bike rides. We follow the culinary scene in NJ very closely – other restaurants we are in love with…Turtle and the Wolf, South + Pine, Common Lot, and De Novo. We enjoy going down to the Jersey shore every summer. SOPAC and Papermill Playhouse are family favorites too.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Priya: My relationship with my girls amazes me every day. Some days we are buddies. They love discussing politics, current affairs, fashion, and Instagram with me. They love quizzing me on what they learned at school (I don’t recall anything from my middle school days!). They help me with my clients and they help me with my social media posts. Other days they are my babies again. No matter which role I play for them and them for me, I am blessed to be a mom.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Priya: To add to the restaurant list, I find myself at the Mall at Short Hills a lot. It is an easy place to take my clients. I have a working relationship with the Bloomingdales there and like the service they provide my clients. In terms of local stores, I highly recommend Zabayon and Hartly for women’s fashion. My favorite hang out and workspace is Liv Bakery or Squirrel and the Bee. I love getting my hair done at Antony Garubo Salon. I am a workout junky, I spend a lot of time at Orangetheory fitness and Poe Yoga.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Priya: We live in Short Hills. We picked this town because it has easy and direct access to NYC. The schools are terrific. The community is diverse and our little downtown is perfect. We do love weekends in Cape May, Avalon or Asbury Park. For an adults-only trip, my husband and I like going to Atlantic City for a night or two.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Priya: Just do it! If you have an idea and have the drive then take the first step and try. Each mini step leads to the next and before you know it you have a website. You find yourself telling people what you do and that in itself is humbling and empowering.
It took me 2 years to realize that I cannot do everything on my own. I am frankly not knowledgeable enough. So outsource and be ready to invest in yourself and your business. I recently hired an Online Business Manager. She is a mompreneur like myself. Not only am I letting her manage my social media and blog for me but I am also supporting her business. It is a win for all.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Priya: This might be a more generic statement. I used to beat myself up about cooking and household chores, about always needing to be at every sports or school event for my kids, about being home when they got back. But I think that it is OK to find the balance. To find a housekeeper or ask a friend or family member to help. Or if those don’t work, to say “no” to your kids. It is about prioritizing differently based on the circumstances.