Body Positive Speaker Malia Anderson Talks Passion, Perseverance and Paying It Forward

“What if I just woke up every morning and said ‘This is my body and I love it.’ and then I went out the door and presented myself in the best possible way?”

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Malia Anderson is a stylist and body positive speaker who works in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a community leader, philanthropist, and businesswoman, she inspires young people to follow their dreams in spite of challenges.

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Anderson has been in the fashion industry for almost twenty years. “I started out studying fashion in college as soon as I got out of high school. I worked in fashion production, working backstage and directing photo shoots. I really liked it.

 

 

Her company, “Style by Malia” allows her to do what she loves, working as a personal stylist for a wide variety of clients. Though it was always a dream, this company is not her first rode. “Style by Malia” is actually the third company I’ve owned. I started my first company when I was 15. A friend and I started a catering company. We would go around and cook for high school parties.

 

“When I was in the fashion industry, I started a company just so I would be able to have a company that I could market as a wardrobe styling and image consulting firm. I did that almost 15 years ago. I started Style by Malia in 2009 as a blog. I wrote funny blogs about celebrity fashion, and how to adapt those looks into real-world settings.

 

Anderson knew it was time to leave her former job when things just weren’t fun anymore. “Corporate America and I were not having a good time. We were in a horribly bad relationship that was just getting a little ridiculous. I was in media and we just started having problems. At the time, we were owned by the New York Times and we had this big corporation telling this little small town paper how things should run.

 

“It was costing me time, and energy, and money, and I was sad, and I just didn’t want to be there. The opportunity came to part ways and I left. I got scared, like everyone does when they leave corporate America and I tried to find another corporate job.

 

“My husband said to me after I spent three months looking for corporate work, ‘Why are you doing this? You have something that you love – why don’t you do that?’ That’s when I went ahead and started doing Style by Malia full-time.”

 

Juggling the responsibilities of being a business woman and taking care of yourself and your family isn’t always easy. Laughing, Anderson confessed that she does have a lot on her plate and “Sometimes I don’t juggle it! There is no such thing as work-life balance; I have not been able to achieve it, and I’ve just given up chasing it – I can’t do it.

 

“There are days when I can’t make it happen and something is going to fall by the wayside. It sucks, but that’s life. It happens. I don’t have children, and I never really wanted to. Not having kids doesn’t impede my life, but I am a wife, and I have a home. Those are things that are very important to me, and I try to make it all work.

 

“I have a husband who is very understanding, and he knows that some days I will call him and say, ‘I am not going to make it home for dinner.’ I make him a priority, and I make us a priority, but there is a lot of juggling. I’m so glad that I have a team that understands my crazy. They get me!

 

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Keeping up with her home life and her business is not all that this super stylist has on her plate. Anderson also makes an effort to work with and support young people. This passion of hers is one she was raised with. “I grew up with my grandmother as my primary parent. My parents were out of the picture. My grandmother instilled in me that we have to give back. We may not have been rich in money, but we were rich in life.

 

Fortunately, the youth aren’t the only audience with whom Anderson imparts her wisdom. Her general public speaking focuses on two distinct topics. “I speak on the topic of being body positive. I speak where I am asked to – if there’s an opportunity to talk about loving your body, then I will speak to your organization, group, whatever.

 

“I think that if you love your body, you can change a lot of things in your life. I am a mean girl in recovery based on the ugly images I received about myself since I was nine years old. At nine years old, being told that you’re a tar baby or that you’re ugly or that you’re too dark . . . Those things stayed inside of me. As I became an adult, I developed mean girl tendencies. I talk to men and women, young and old, about letting go of those things and people that are taking up space in your soul. They have no need to be there.

 

“The person who said you were ugly when you were 9 is probably not thinking of you at 39 – but you’re still thinking about that person. That affects you every day. I believe that bodies are without flaw – and no, (laughs) not like Beyoncé. My body is my body. I could make some slight adjustments to it.”

 

 

Anderson’s zeal in inspiring other women comes from the lessons she learned on her business journey. “Most people don’t understand how I can make my living shopping. I have this company because I’m good at what I do. Just because it’s shopping doesn’t mean it’s not a career or a viable business. My business is economically viable and brings important dollars to the community. It’s something that I’m passionate about.

 

“In the beginning, I had people who pooh-poohed my business. But I have clients who don’t know how to shop, who don’t want to shop. I am giving them back time in their lives and taking the stress away from them. When I started taking my business seriously, and stopped treating it like a hobby, my business thrived. I feel like sometimes women take their businesses less seriously than their homes, or their children. A business is on par with those things. My business helps feed my family.”

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Motivating yourself when the going gets tough doesn’t always come easily. Anderson cites various sources for her perseverance and inner strength. “My grandmother is in her eighties and still running her own entrepreneurial business every single day. I think more than anything she wanted me not to be an entrepreneur, (laughs) because it’s really hard work and it really sucks sometimes.

 

“My grandmother and my mom used to say, ‘You were born to be outstanding.’ I take that to heart, and I want to make them proud. The work ethic I brought to corporate America is the same one I need to bring to my business. My business is growing – we have a full-time studio manager and an assistant stylist.”

 

 

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Raised and nourished by community service – and having fought against her former mean girl mentality – Malia Anderson is a force to be reckoned with. She isn’t simply doing great things for her clients: she is helping her community and inspiring youth and adults to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams. She’s also grounded in reality because she knows that what you want will sometimes draw you into a battle – but it will be worth it.

 

“I want people to always know and understand that anything worth having is worth building. I’ve built this business, I built my career. I didn’t do it quickly, it wasn’t easy, but I did it in a way true to who I am, the values I was raised with, and the sustainability of my community. There is a way to do it without compromising who you are to get there.

 

“If you believe in what you do, you will succeed. It has taken me a while to get to that, but I think I’m finally there.”

 


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