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Mikalah Morris: “You and Your Wardrobe Will be Knotted for Life.”

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Mikalah Morris’s story over the last few years reads like the heroine from your favorite Hallmark movie: struggling to overcome dreadful obstacles that befall her, yet each time climbing back on her feet, no matter the odds stacked against her.

While the 30-year old Kansas City, Missouri, resident wasn’t fighting a horrific villain conspiring against her with evil plots, plenty of problems nearly consumed her. In less than four years, Mikalah married, moved across the country, got a job, was divorced and then fired from her job. On the bright side, she did meet the love of her life, Austin, and quickly landed a new job. One short year later, she was fired again. Finally, all of the negativity caught up with her.

The Plunge
“Being fired a second time forced a hard look in the mirror and encouraged some enlightening conversations. Life has this way of nudging you on the right path. Styling is where my life started, and it was the plan all along. I tried to rely on the security of a corporate job, which didn’t pan out well. I realized I had to control of my own life; really, we’re the only ones that can set our souls on fire. No one else can do that for us.” recalled Mikalah. “The winning pep talk was from Austin. After the shock wore off and tears subsided, he reminded me, ‘We all get a few Hail Marys in life to throw; let’s throw one for your styling business and see how it plays.’ I guess you could say I’m mid-Hail Mary and so far it looks pretty good.”

And that is how the fairy tale of Knots & Pearls begins, a styling company with the goal to make people fall in love with their lives through the clothes they wear and the homes they create.

Inspired by the “pearls” of wisdom passed on by remarkable women, Mikalah is focused on creating a life that’s as functional as it is beautiful.

“Knots & Pearls is a culmination of a lifetime of creative pursuits, and the women who inspire me the most. Although Knots & Pearls is the most irresponsible and anxiety-producing thing I’ve ever done, nothing has ever felt more right. It’s riddled with so much passion it gives me butterflies the moment I wake up. It requires me to bare my soul daily, which is absolutely terrifying. It pushes me to learn new things and put myself out in the world in the most vulnerable way possible,” revealed Mikalah. “It’s the result of all the ass-kicking I took, and the times I’ve nailed it. But better yet, it’s a product of my choosing courage over comfort and betting on me, and most importantly, to be able to look myself in the eye and know that I believed enough in myself to bet on me.”

The Foundation
Mikalah has been growing the concept for Knots & Pearls for over seven years as she honed her styling talents at boutiques around the country and a big-name department store. “I was a personal shopper at Bloomingdales in San Francisco through college and fell in love with the overall transformation process,” she shared. “Just like every other millennial, I always dreamed of setting off to do my own thing, and styling was always the end goal.”

At the untested age of 18, this small-town girl from Peculiar, Missouri, decided to embark on a huge adventure by attending the Art Institute of San Francisco to receive a bachelor of science degree in fashion marketing and management. “It must have been my wanderlust spirit, and there was something about San Francisco; the east coast wasn’t speaking to me. San Francisco had a vibe that intrigued me, and it was packed with culture,” she commented. “It was a wild ride, but I loved it. The school was more project-driven and fast-paced, and I thrived in that creative environment.”

A few years later Mikalah came back to Kansas City and settled in the Brookside area. With Knots & Pearls, she works directly with clients to restyle their wardrobes, getting the most out of their garments. In fact, she claims, “you and your wardrobe will be knotted for life.”

“I don’t know about you, but my wardrobe and I have a love/hate relationship and sometimes I feel like it just doesn’t get me. When I work with my styling clients, both wardrobe and interior, every item should be an accurate reflection of who they are, how they feel and what they love,” she stated. “Function is the core of everything I focus on and I teach my clients this. I don’t want them to need me every time they shop. Take this and run with it. Sometimes, women will get overwhelmed when shopping the racks. I suggest going to boutiques that have more of a curated selection, clothes that you’ll really love.”

The Process
While shopping can certainly be a part of the process, Mikalah is very focused on the pieces a woman already owns. “For me, it’s all about decluttering and reassessing. I’ve had clients purge everything and start from scratch. I’ve had clients hire me for a few hours to spruce up what they already own with their existing belongings,” she noted. “At the end of our time together, I want you to feel like your style is reflected in everything that surrounds you.”

Knots & Pearls takes its moniker from the life that Mikalah has enjoyed over the years. Her strong maternal influence goes back generations; the name is a product of the women who inspired her the most. “I’ve been swimming in inspiration since deciding to go out on my own. My great-grandmother, in her long strand of knotted pearls, taught me the power of simplicity. My grandma taught me no matter the size of your home or your wallet, your home can beautiful,” she remarked. “My mother taught me that courage will never lead you astray. My mom is the center of my world and reminds me of my value and strength every day. I won’t be dealt anything more than I can handle. This new season of life has taught me a lot. When it comes to inspiration, I listen to others with the intent to truly listen, not respond. It’s a tiny tweak in how I approach conversations and discussions, but you make a small change and the floodgates open.”

Not only does Mikalah focus on clothing, but she also consults on the environment in the home. Knots & Pearls has become a one-stop-shop in creating a cohesive look for the major segments of a client’s life. “After helping clients with their wardrobes, they would ask me if I did homes. The reason clients asked that is because you develop such a personal relationship. It’s an intimacy with your clients as you help them with other facets of their life,” she said. “Developing a close relationship with anyone takes time and effort, and they wanted to continue that effort with me for their homes.”

The Fulfillment
As an entrepreneur, Mikalah offers this advice for others dreaming of starting their own businesses. “I say that you should bet on you. No one in this entire world will believe in your dreams more than you. There’s never a perfect opportunity to have something fall in your lap. Sometimes you have to strip away your security, financially take a risk and dive in headfirst,” she advised. “Being an entrepreneur is absolutely terrifying; you’re vulnerable every day, but the fulfillment makes all the fear worth it. Many people take a leap at the top of their game, but the perfect storm of failures encouraged me to leap at the bottom of mine.”

Mikalah understands that many facets are woven together as she composes her own Hallmark movie. While many pages of script are yet to be written, she relishes what the next challenge will bring. “Fate is real and when you’re on the right path, life has a way of conspiring to help. Use the setbacks in life as motivation to propel you forward,” she shared. “Our personal style is an extension of who we are and comes to life in the world that we surround ourselves with: our homes, our wardrobes, our offices. That world should be an accurate reflection of your soul and what makes you happy. When we switch our focus to surrounding ourselves with things that matter instead of just ‘stuff,’ we start to live lighter, more  fulfilling lives.”