A high flying inspiration


Photo courtesy of Wildflower Photography
Photo courtesy of Wildflower Photography

Personal stylist Estelle Pape has a passion for empowering people to live their best lives through her work as an image consultant, life and leadership coach. Born to teach, lead and inspire. Dynamic, warm and curious, she says her commitment to reaching her potential and helping others do the same is in her DNA.

A former Head of Department, Accounting and Commerce at Auckland’s Pakuranga College (2003-06), sharing the exact same tenure with the school’s inspirational principal, Bali Haque.

“Bali took Pakuranga College from good to great,” Estelle says. “He was an amazing leader and a strategic trailblazer who changed the way we taught.”

And, personally, Estelle also celebrates Bali for taking the time to invest in her own career as a leader. “I was really moved by that,” she says.

Statuesque (at 1.8m, and extremely stylish with a strong twist of individuality), Estelle was born in South Africa where she gained her BComm, a Higher Teaching Diploma and trained as a personal stylist too. She then taught high school in her hometown for two years before embracing her love for flying; a passion inherited from her aviation executive father.

Joining Emirates, she worked as a flight attendant for five years before immigrating to New Zealand in 2003 and taking up her role at the East Auckland college. But, in 2006, the urge to spread her wings again accelerated when she saw an advertisement from a leading New Zealand airline carrier, wanting to appoint 35 new ‘concierge’ roles.

Flying long-haul on 777s, the concierge job description read like a flight attendant’s dream, she recalls.

“Applicants needed to be personable, confident, great at making positive first impressions and assisting at passengers with any queries about their flight or destination.”

It seemed tailor-made for Estelle. She joined 34 others and underwent two weeks of “ridiculously enjoyable training, including being ordered to get lost and found in LA” before the fully-fledged concierges took to the skies.

Soon after, Estelle was asked to front an internal ‘super hero’ campaign for the airline’s staff, teaching the epitome of great customer service.

“It was an amazing opportunity that seemed to draw on everything I’d studied for and loved to do,” she says. “My training in the airline industry influenced me strongly, especially on the importance of first impressions. I was taught you always dress to the position you aspire to; to always dress business class because you never know when you’ll get upgraded.”

While she loved her work, Estelle says there was still a little voice on her shoulder whispering that there was more potential to reach. She knew it was time to focus on her leadership skills and take the next step to Flight Attendant Number One, the manager role that captains rely on to sort the cabin; her hand went up for promotion.

“I think, for a people-person like me, systems and procedures are something you really need to ingrain within yourself. So this was a great opportunity to express my leadership, and become a leader. It was uncomfortable, initially, but then I got into it.

“As part of a new training initiative, our cabin crew manager and team flew to New York to meet Simon Sinek, the author of What is Your Why.

“Together with Simon we created the content for the customer service and leadership training videos for the airline’s cabin leaders and cabin crew. I was lucky enough to be one of the presenters and for me, delivering the programme was life changing, personal and powerful.”

Following several more stellar years in the air, Estelle felt it was time to bring her skills back home and help others reach their potential as well – “I wanted to make an impact in my own way.”

Enter The Flying Stylist

Set on her new path, and already an accomplished life and business coach, Estelle took a refresher course in personal styling before launching her own consultancy last year as a personal stylist with a difference.

Drawing on her love for fashion, style and empowerment, she launched The Flying Stylist to help people discover and enhance their own unique style so they could act with confidence and authenticity in the world – “that’s everyone’s birth-right, Estelle maintains.

Now, through her interactive workshops, people can feel confident and empowered, discover their style personality and have fun in the process.

“I really want people to live their best lives, not to be shy and hide, but have the confidence to be themselves.”

Concerned that fast fashion is “polluting”, Estelle plays her part for the environment by re-purposing pre-loved garments such as denim jackets and customising them to her clients’ taste and style.

She also offers her own concierge service, whereby she selects pieces for time poor clients, items she knows they’ll love and relate to.

“It’s so important to make powerful connections, to be surrounded by people who encourage you and speak to your potential,” she says.

“That’s the big thing lacking these days. ‘Connectivity’ is going online and finding things out but that’s not ‘connecting’. Connecting with the right people in the right way, little by little, means you can positively change a life and that’s what I love to do; help people to look and feel their best.”

By Jes Magill