Phoenix-based stylist Risa Kostis is every bride's first call in the face of an emergency. With an extensive history in hairstyling and makeup artistry, as well as weddings, event planning, and personal shopping, Risa uses her keen eye to ensure the biggest moments of your life go off without a hitch. Where her knack for preparedness really shines is through her brainchild, The Rescue Kit Company™, fashion emergency kits for brides (and really anyone who gets dressed). Risa also founded a styling company, Risa Kostis Creative, and has had work featured on The Today Show, Vogue Italia, Byrdie, and other style/news outlets. To top it all off she's also a style and confidence coach helping women feel confident for the most important days of their lives. To say Risa is an all-hands-on-deck type of woman is an understatement, and we’re so here for it. Read on to hear about her time in Italy, her dream playlist, and the WORST fashion emergency she ever experienced.
What are your favorite (hidden) oases? Favorite places to be - parks, cities, bars, any place you absolutely adore!
I spent some time in Florence, Italy for work in the mid-2000’s then again for a few months in 2013. It’s my favorite place in the world! There’s a tiny little tucked-away lunch spot called Osteria Buongustai that changed my life and I dream about their white bean truffle toast. There’s something so magical about that spot that will always live rent free in my heart.
I also love a little place not far from where I’m from in Maine called Perkins Cove, Ogunquit. I used to work at a restaurant called The Oarweed that sits right on the Marginal Way, and it’s a small slice of heaven. Locals might try to stay away during the busy summer days, but there’s nothing I love more than the buzz of people walking around and the smell of the ocean air. It’s one of those places…if you know, you know!
Lastly, there’s an underground restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ called The Salt Cellar. It reminds me so much of Maine and the food is absolutely amazing. They have a quaint bar area with a separate special menu than the dining room, and it’s one of my favorite hidden gems.
What oasis is on your bucket list? Travel wishlist!!
Exuma, Bahamas! Friends of mine own a property there that I’ve been wanting to get to for years, but it just hasn’t happened yet. I stalk their Instagram and live vicariously through their picturesque posts.
What book are you currently unwinding with?
I just got my hands on my friend and client’s new book called The Art of Bouncing Back. I dressed her for her author photo, and it’s such an honor when I get to play a small part in someone’s huge accomplishment. Whenever I get to slow down to read, it typically involves a self-improvement or business book. I just can’t help myself!
What 4-5 songs make up the sound track of your life?
Who Run The World by Beyonce
Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen
Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Note To Self by Ben Rector
What I Have by Kelsea Ballerini
Where is your favorite hidden space in your home?
My little guesthouse! It’s served as everything from a cute AirBNB, to an office, to an oversized closet, to The Rescue Kit HQ. That space has seen it all and it’s become a really inspiring and creative place for me to enjoy.
What is your personal “turndown routine” that helps you transition from day to night?
I have been loving ending the day with my sauna blanket, lavender epsom salt baths, and lemon ginger tea. I also use an essential oil blend and magnesium lotion right before bed. I tend to struggle with shutting my brain down, so I’ve really tried to develop a routine that helps me detach from the day and relax my mind and body. Morning and evening routines have given my days new meaning and are now non-negotiable.
What is something you do just for you?
I love to write. It’s something I’ve always had a passion for, so when I feel inspired I get it all out on paper. I’ve been “writing the novel of my life” for WAY too long. I also love to sing and I’m sure my neighbors are completely annoyed by my evening karaoke sessions at the top of my lungs…
What’s your favorite maxi dress or jumpsuit and why?
The Sleeveless Turtleneck Jumpsuit by Lanston. I love it because it’s SO comfy, can be dressed up or down, looks great with layers over it and even travels well. It’s the ultimate staple piece.
What's the worst fashion emergency you've experienced that influenced your Rescue Kit?
This is THE story that influenced it! I was asked by a photographer friend of mine to style one of her brides on the day of her wedding. I had never met the bride or groom, but was trying to grow my day-of styling services so it was a win-win. Little did I know I’d be put to the test and I’d have my biggest ah-ha moment.
Just minutes before the first look, I was grabbing my professional kit and some last minute things from the bridal suite after we got the bride dressed, and a bridesmaid came running down the hall asking for me. Someone had accidentally stepped on the back of the bride’s gown and the zipper broke, along with some of the lace and tulle on her dress. If you know anything about a broken zipper, you know it either has to be sewn closed or replaced. Since replacing it wasn’t an option, I had to take out every tool in the kit to pin, glue and sew her in to get her aisle-ready. She ended up looking picture-perfect and her trials turned into my golden ticket to one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We’ve saved hundreds of brides since that fateful day (and she’s happily married with two beautiful kiddos)!
You always look so polished! Any tips for nailing that polished look while working from home? And we have to know - what’s your “power suit” - aka what’s your go-to outfit for when you’re doing a speaking engagement since we noticed you do quite a lot of those!
Thank you! Working from home has given me the chance to finally slow down and be more deliberate with wearing what I own and has allowed me to get creative with what’s in my closet. I’ve been focused on only adding unique vintage pieces, shopping resale for timeless treasures, and investing in statement tops that stand out more than anything. I’ve also really taken to the menswear trend we’re seeing so much of, so my personal power suit is typically a wide leg suit or fun blazer with denim and lots of layered jewelry whenever possible. I also love a matching set and try to put my own twist on it by color blocking or doing something unexpected like biker shorts or fun crop or bra tops. I try to bring my personal style into my on-stage looks to show people that the opportunity to be professional in a memorable way is always available to them.