I love a woman with style and hustle. Crystal Pancipanci has that and so much more.
Coming from a humble, country town where she grew up helping her family pick lychee on their Wahiawa property Crystal dreamed big dreams. Through pure grit, tenacity, and confidence in herself Crystal created her own destiny as one of Hawaii's most influential women in fashion.
A celebrity stylist, make-up artist and television personality she has been featured on the Today Show and now is a regular on her own KHON2 TV segment on Living 808 called "Dear Panci" where viewers submit questions to receive on-air answers and fashion advice. Crystal has worked with the cast members of Hawaii-Five-O and Lost, Kimora Lee Simmons, Kelly Ripa, Rebecca Minkoff, Kimie Miner, Miss America, Tulsi Gabbard and the list goes on. She is the principal contributing fashion stylist for Ala Moana Magazine and Modern Luxury Hawaii Magazine. Her work can be seen all over the billboards at Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Crystal is an inspiring example of no matter where you come from and no matter what adversities come your way staying true to your dreams and believing in yourself can lead to living your best life.
How did the brand Panci Style come to life?
It started as a dream, and knowing from a young age that I love to help other women look and feel amazing. I’ve always loved fashion, makeup and the artistry of it. In middle school, I was always the girl doing makeovers for my friends.
When I got to college, my family was very clear that makeup was not a career. I tried so many different things that I thought would fit the typical “career” - I was in architecture school at one point, I studied marketing, I was a fitness instructor, I was doing TV, I was even an indoor arena, pro-cheerleader. Then one semester I took a fashion illustration class and realized this is what I want to do.
I started PANCI STYLE in 2008. A friend had suggested I apply to go to Fashion Week in New York City. Fashion Week is a convention that you have to apply to get into. You have to send in all these examples of your work, your credentials, your background, your bio, etc. . . And the first time I applied I got denied but then I tried again and was approved. This was really before I knew anyone in the fashion industry. I was living at home and I remember my Mom being so upset because I was leaving my four-year-old child with her for the first time to go on this trip. Talk about mom guilt! It’s always going to be there moms. It's normal and ok. But everything in me said I need to do this if I’m ever going to reach my career dreams and be a role model to my daughter.
Once you get to Fashion Week it doesn’t necessarily mean you go to all the fashion shows. You have to be invited to each show. So my friend who worked in PR helped me submit all these requests for invitations to shows. The first time we got turned down by like 90% of the shows and the ones we got into were brands we might not have heard of.
But it didn't matter we had the most amazing time. We began meeting people backstage and then we would get invited to another event or party and it was the beginning of being in this world and network of fashion.
I remember I cried so hard to come back home. I felt so torn. I knew everything inside of me was in New York and fashion but I had this entirely different world at home being a young single mother for a daughter I loved dearly and was devoted to. I didn’t know it at the time but I’ve been able to create a beautiful world that is a mixture of both. I have been able to be self-employed and raise my daughter while still pursuing my dreams of fashion in Hawaii.
Tell me about a time you faced adversity, and how you got through it.
During college, I got to go to Europe through a summer internship program. I visited Paris and London, and got amazing hands on experience doing exactly what I had dreamed of in the fashion world. I loved every minute of it, I felt like Carrie Bradshaw. I thought that would be my life after college. But when I came home, life hit hard. My dad got sick, and what we thought was bronchitis turned out to be lung cancer, and he was given three months to live. My family and I became full time care takers. A few weeks after my Dad passed I found out I was pregnant. Four days after Christmas that year, I had my daughter Haley at age 21. Talk about popping different types of bottles!
I had to grow up really fast. My life and my 'why' became my daughter. Every step of the way I had someone looking up to me. As a single mom, I had to create a career where I could always be there for her. I couldn't afford childcare. So I really had to get creative. I created a freelance job, and started PANCI STYLE. The beauty of Hawai‘i, is you have friends and people around that you can trust to help you out. I always hung on to that faith that I was going to build something great for this community that I've been in.
I’ve spent most of my life trying to lead by example, not just for the women I work with, but to leave an example of my daughter that you can do anything regardless of adversity. We all have so many things to balance, whether it’s being a good mom, social expectations with your family, having a successful career, or anything else. So you really have to create what you want. Once I decided to create it, there was no looking back. I wanted to start my company to leave a legacy for a little girl that was watching every step of the way.
Where do you find your confidence?
I find confidence through my faith and through inspiration I find in other people. For me, I know I have to push myself and believe in the power of YES! Fear and doubt are always going to be there. I believe in magic moments, and when you allow yourself to say yes, it gives you that confidence that you need to just do it. I want to be able to tell my daughter to throw herself into the fire and not be afraid to go after her dreams and the things she loves. That means I have to not be afraid to do that too. It’s about trusting yourself and knowing that you’ve trained and put in the work, and now it’s your time to go for it. Everyone always thinks it's too late or it’s not the right time or you missed your chance. It's never too late. You just have to do it.
Tell me about where you are now and your advice for women looking up to you.
I love where I am in life right now. I love being 38. For women, it gets better every year. I’m a single mom, I’m running a business that I love and that is different and exciting every day, and I’m doing exactly what I want to do - helping women feel amazing.
My life tip to women is don't be influenced by social pressure. Know who you are and what you want to get. You have a gift, and whatever you end up doing, you don't have to sacrifice who you are in order to please family or friends. There’s so much pressure to think, “I'm a certain age now, I should be married, I should have this job, I should be at this benchmark.” Everything happens in divine time. When you stay true to who you are, that's when you live your best life.
Tell me about how you manage the many relationships in your life.
Making time for the people you love and that matter most is very important. Time is a gift and something you cannot get back. So living and creating amazing experiences together is valuable. I make sure to surround myself with really good people. I love them and call them my soul circle. They are the people who I can call in low moments and to just talk things through. In different times they have been different people, but they are all representative of who I was at that time.
Holding on to good relationships is so important. But sometimes with relationships, it’s also ok to edit out the toxic ones. If someone is no longer supporting you or uplifting you, and you feel like you're more depleted, its ok to let them go, whether it’s with colleagues, relationships or even friendships. I learned a long time ago to never take anything personally or get emotional about things. Take everything with a grain of salt.
What does your day to day look like, and how do you juggle life as a working mom?
It takes a village! My daughter splits her time with me and my mom, which is a huge help. My daughter also grew up as my friends and I were growing up, so they are very present in her life and around to help out.
There are lots of things that help me keep on track. I journal, and I’ve really found that if you write things down, they will materialize. Time management is important, but so is being flexible when the plans change. I usually get up around 5:30, check emails and social media, get ready, then drop my daughter at school. If I don’t have work or meetings, I’ll try to fit a workout in, otherwise I’ll try to work out when Haley is at volleyball practice in the afternoon. I can’t run my business and take care of myself and be the mom that sits there for three hours to watch her at volleyball practice. I'm a woman first, and then I'm a mom, and then I'm a daughter. I’ll watch her practice for 30 minutes, then I’ll go take care of things I need to take care of. My day to day is constantly changing, so being flexible is important.
At home, my daughter and I share responsibility for laundry, cleaning, and things around the house. When we were younger, I used to do it all myself, but now I tell her it’s a team thing, and we both have to help out. There’s a lot of life lessons you learn in doing laundry and chores. We also have a lot of quality Mommy and Hailey days and love going on girls trips!
How do you manage stress?
Taking time for self care is important. I love to work out. I love Body Balance classes and yoga. I allow myself to be guilt free about the things that make me feel good, like massages and getting my nails done. I love to light my candles, spend time in my space, and listen to Spa Music (look it up on Apple Music!) When I’m feeling really stressed, I go jump in the water (ocean) to recharge. The water is my saving grace for everything. I also love to travel it helps me to reset, find balance and inspiration for my work.
To stay organized, I’m definitely a pen to paper person. I love a traditional planner. I have to handle my daughter’s schedule, client schedules, and so many schedules before I can even work on my own work schedule, so I write it all down. I journal my goals to stay on track - I have monthly goals, yearly goals, and life goals.
And I pray all the time, like five times a day. For me, my spirituality is my why, that’s how I’m able to keep on.
What advice would you share with aspiring stylist and female entrepreneurs who are starting out?
If you're passionate about something, don't be afraid to do it. You'll learn more from failing than not ever trying. As females, we find those things that we were so passionate about, but we need that extra third-party validation from friends, family, and mentors because we’re scared of that self-doubt. You have the power to do anything you want by just saying yes to yourself and manifesting that to happen.
Write everything down. It doesn't have to be a business plan the first time you write it down. Just start and write down why you want this goal. Once you find your why, then you'll find your way. Because in the hardest times, your why is going to be your pillar of what keeps you going.
For styling, for anyone starting out, you absolutely have to love it. It’s not an easy industry whatsoever. A stylist is a very vague description of many, many things, and when I got started in styling, I had to learn the definition of being a stylist from the ground up because it didn't exist in Hawaii. My job is ever evolving, and it requires me to be constantly serving and creating. It's not all glamorous brands or labels or who wore what. It can be shallow and materialistic at times. But it can also be such a beautiful service where you can help others.
What is your favorite pair of Mohalas and how would you style them?
The Keana in Lychee Soda are currently my favorite pair. Shop the Keana here. I have styled them with a white tee, jeans, red lipstick, gold jewelry, and a straw fedora. I also like the Lina in Coconut Mojito that I styled in a recent Ala Moana Magazine Surf Style feature. Shop the Lina here.
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