Meet Stephanie Archer-Smith: From "Stunned" to "Stunning"
Stunned. That’s the feeling that overcame Stephanie Archer-Smith when she unwrapped a gift from her husband and son back at Christmas and saw our booklet of Ella Pritsker Couture executive looks. Inside, Stephanie found a handwritten note that said “I want to give you a nice gift so you can stop worrying about what to wear.” Fast forward to now. The result is Stunning.
Stephanie’s husband gifted her the opportunity for Ella to design a custom suit and blouse for her. “He always takes my breath away,” says Stephanie of the gift choices her husband makes. “He was thinking about how I always talk about how I don’t have anything to wear.”
We had the chance to talk to Stephanie about her couture experience on the morning that her chocolate brown skirt suit, with a subtle plaid pattern, made its debut out of the closet. Ella chose a light weight, luxury Australian wool fabric, featuring the finest silk, so that Stephanie can wear the suit year round. Here it’s paired with a sleeveless custom blouse, with a monochromatic textured argyle-like pattern, and front tie detailing. With the standout gold buttons, there is no need to accessorize.
“Ella was so low key and gentle with me. When she told me about the buttons, she got really excited in a way I hadn’t seen her get excited before,” remembers Stephanie, who met with Ella to talk about the initial design and then discussed fine tuning as the process unfolded. When Stephanie requested a shorter skirt and Ella pinned the length into place, Ella gently shared that a longer hemline would lengthen Stephanie’s petite stature. Stephanie is glad she took the advice.
That gentle touch and sense of ease made Stephanie feel comfortable with an experience that isn’t center stage to her comfort zone. Stephanie confesses that she felt skeptical at first about having a suit made for her. Stephanie heads up Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland. “Working in a non-profit, I don’t want to feel too showy. I want to be professional.” She appreciated hearing from another one of Ella’s clients, who also works in the non-profit world, how Ella’s couture is a confidence booster when talking to donors.
Stephanie, who is trained as a psychologist, has spent her career working with vulnerable populations at every stage of the life cycle Meals on Wheels was her first opportunity to work with older adults. “They are often overlooked. We don’t think about what it will feel like to get old. For me, I don’t really have role models. My parents died when I was young – To watch how people age with dignity, it’s a privilege.”
Stephanie appreciates that Ella took the time to learn about her work along with her style preferences. Stephanie’s advice for other women who are interested in the couture experience – “Trust the process, just relax and trust the process. When we are struggling with what to wear, it’s often because we don’t feel comfortable in our clothing or our skin, and you have to get past that and be willing to go along with it, to really be open to it.” The result for her is a style that has a luxurious feel, a sophisticated vibe and is comfortable.