Starr says her service benefits trans women who want to present a more feminine appearance
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
Way back in 1996, Nikki Starr started Miss Victoria’s Feminine Illusions, a business dedicated to helping those — male or female — who wanted to be more feminine in appearance.
Starr suspended operations in 2001 because she traveled quite a bit with her job as an executive for a software company dealing with supply chain logistics.
But with the encouragement of a friend, Starr decided to try again, and Femme X Studios has been up and running since 2006.
Starr said she works with a variety of people: Some might have a fetish; others are transgender women who know they are women but never learned how women’s sizes work or how to put on makeup.
“They don’t know where to start,” Starr said.
While her target audience is varied, Starr said she rarely works with drag queens. She said she is not in business to help someone present an illusion or exaggeration of femininity.
“I provide a service as an image and style consultant,” she said.
Some of Starr’s clients are just coming out as transgender and learning to be more feminine. One client is a married cross-dresser whose wife does not know.
“She’s just trying to figure it out,” Starr said of her client.
Much of Starr’s business comes from people who are in the closet. Some are high-powered business executives who need a private, discreet place to explore.
Starr said she schedules three or four appointments a week and while an appointment may last up to eight hours, the basic appointment is usually three hours.
“Everything’s included,” Starr said. “They don’t have to bring anything — clothes, shoes, hair, lingerie. What do they want? Photography? Makeup?”
Starr has release forms for all pictures on her website. To assure discretion, she said she’ll use the client’s own camera and hand them the memory card. But, she noted, photography can be useful for the client to see and compare differences in makeup or hairstyles. And some do want a glamour shot session.
Starr said that some clients are very nervous on their first visit. They might spend the entire visit just drinking a glass of wine and talking. And Starr said she is careful to take that client through each step and talk about the experience as they go.
She also offers a very basic one-hour make-up class in which she discusses products, skincare and basic makeup application techniques.
Starr also helps her clients prepare for their own forays into the world of retail. Her advice for people shopping for the first time who have not developed a relationship with any salespeople is to call ahead.
“If you call ahead, they can prepare for you,” she said.
Starr used that same principle in planning an outing with a transgender group.
She made reservations for a group at the Uptown restaurant Sambuca and explained who they were. They told her, “as long as you’re dressed appropriately.” Starr said that when her group arrived, they were assigned a waiter who went out of his way to make the evening a lot of fun.
And while Starr specializes in image consulting, she refers her clients to a number of other people — including counselors, cosmetic surgeons and doctors to prescribe hormone therapy, as well as friendly gyms, retailers and restaurants.
Starr said that each of her customers is looking for something a little different and she said the key to success is spending time making sure she understands that client’s needs.
“We can customize an experience that’s right for you,” Starr said.