HOW TO: BECOME A SUCCESSFUL STYLIST
It’s time to tackle the most frequent question that I get asked over social media or coffee and I feel like the answer actually applies to a lot of different fields. So here it is!
Everyone thinks that styling is all about the glamour of styling fabulous celebrities. Seems simple enough, right?
There are some amazing experiences: traveling to cool places, getting to work with renowned brands and important people, exclusive behind the scenes access to events and award shows, gifted clothing, and designer discounts. For every perk of the job, there are countless hours spent pulling and returning clothes, sweating profusely, and stressing over boxes not being delivered or damaged garments.
If you want to be a Fashion Stylist you have to be willing to put in A LOT of blood, sweat, and tears. This is more commonly known as “SWEAT EQUITY”. It’s all about the hard work you put in to make it all come together. Here are 5 steps on how to start, who to email, and what to expect in becoming a successful stylist.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
This is vital in becoming a valuable asset to any client. I started out reading different blogs and articles on what it took to break into the industry. The most important step was putting myself out there and attending fashion shows or art events. I met many people that were either stylists, photographers, art directors, makeup artists or models. All of these people will really help you build a network by word of mouth referrals for yourself. After I made some lucrative connections I did my research on those people and the places or events they were either attending or working . By doing the research, I too ended up at those places and events and as a result I landed my first gig as a Fashion Show Dresser. It was incredible meeting so many amazing, talented and well connected people! This really opened my imagination, got my creativity flowing, and motivated me to consistently be in the right circles and build those relationships with people.
I did it! I BROKE INTO THE INDUSTRY! I was getting calls and was working several fashion shows and shoots. I was thriving on the fact that I could now leverage myself into working with reputable photographers in the industry. I built-up a contact list of designers to reach out to. In the process of working the fashion shows I was able to pull from those designers. Which I then used to my advantage in styling shoots.
Don't be scared to put yourself out there and be proactive. You have to be the one that people see as an outgoing person who can help them in whatever they need.
Use that “SWEAT EQUITY” to get out there and volunteer. This will help you to build lucrative relationships. Also you need to create business cards for yourself to hand out at events or any place you feel you need them. They can be very simple but make sure that you stand out and make an impression, so that people remember you. THIS IS KEY! Creatives will want to work with you solely because they love your personality and style! So make sure you dress to impress, then give them a business card to seal the deal.
BUILD YOUR PORTFOLIO
This step is going to help you determine which type of styling you really want to do. Whether that's Editorials, Ad Campaigns, Product/Prop, or Home Interiors. Styling is more than just clothing and accessories. Whatever niche you feel drawn to you need to ensure that you are building a solid portfolio that exemplifies your quality of work. Make sure the photographers you are working with have a strong aesthetic or even have experience working big jobs. You may have to work for free for a bit, but sacrificing 3 to 6 months on volunteering as an assistant or stylist and building your portfolio will solidify landing a huge paying opportunity later on. AGAIN, PUTTING IN THAT “SWEAT EQUITY”!
To build your portfolio make sure you have the following things, which I will set out in more detail below:
Credit for a Credit Card (For pulling Items)
Website is essential when you have people interested in working with you and they want to see some of your work. I suggest you have 2-3 best images per shoot in your portfolio. You want to impress them with only your best work!
Styling Kit is going to help you with all the things you may need to fix or alter your styling. For example, if I dress the model and the shirt is slightly big, I then go to my styling kit for pins or double sided tape depending on what looks best. If you are styling product in a flat lay, you want something tacky to hold the product in place if it is moving around. These are easy tricks of the trade to make outfits look tailored to the model.
A good styling starter kit consists of :
All of these things are going to be essential for Styling any shoot and really being prepared for any unforeseen hiccups that come up -- AND BELIEVE ME, THEY WILL COME UP.
Organization is HUGE! This might be one of the most important assets you need to have. Being organized can either make or break your career so make sure you come correct. Keep the merch you have pulled in order and separate based on the brands or stores they are from. To do this you can typically take out the merch and put it on top of the bag or tag that you take off of the garment. That way you don't get all the tags mixed up from the product. Also you can use sticky notes, a sharpie, and a plastic bag to label the bag of what is inside. To later attach the tags to the correct item that is placed in the bag with the correct tag. This will ensure that returns are being made on time, based on the Return Policy or the Designers guidelines. This information is vital especially for a stylist. It also impresses the Designer that they can rely on you to pull for future shoots.
A beautiful and thorough inspiration board for the vibe of each shoot will help keep everyone in the team on the same page. I create a pinterest board for each shoot and send it out in an email to everyone on the shoot. That way we all see the vision and know our part in creating the vibe of the shoot.
Credit/ Credit Card this is probably the hardest part of being a stylist to attain. I know Credit sucks, but you need it in order to pull amazing one of a kind pieces from designers or retail stores. So with that, start applying to a department store for a credit card. Or start loading up a prepaid card if your credit is not in tip top shape yet. Either way I would start with a Credit card that has a 1k - 2k limit. This will be beneficial because you can easily pull a lot of items or give the credit card info to the designer or store to hold.
START REACHING OUT TO AGENCIES
Once you have the Styling or Assistant Styling down and have a impressive portfolio, you should start reaching out to agencies in your city. You do this by googling fashion or talent agencies in your area. From there you will then look up the proper agent to contact. Once you locate the agent either call or email them asking if they are accepting any assistants or stylists at this time.
Now you are NOT going to get a yes immediately. So be prepared for it! YOU HAVE TO HAVE THICK SKIN IN THIS BUSINESS.
DON'T GET DISCOURAGED!! Consistency is going to be KEY!
Success is all about hard work, consistency, and following up. So I would suggest you create an email template that you can have readily available to send out to the agencies. Don't forget to attach in the emails your portfolio and a resume of what you have accomplished. Again, you have to stand out, making an impression is going to be valuable to any job.
Years of hard work and determination I finally landed at an agency because I was consistent. I also made sure in my emails that I was showing the agency how I would add value to their team and clients. You have to sell them on your ideas and contributions to their team and clients. Remember……. Ask yourself, “How do I add value?” This will easily help you determine your purpose and give you a clear vision through your journey!
BUILD YOUR CLIENTELE BASE/ NETWORK
Once you have signed with an agency make sure you are steadily updating your portfolio and clientele base. Also Network, Network, Network! I think networking really got me to where I am today. The fashion industry is all about who you know. So get yourself out there and make a strong impression on everyone you meet. Slay them with style and your shining personality. Then hit them with a business card and a link to your portfolio. They will have no other choice but to sit up and take notice! From there they’ll want to work with you again and again!
Alright Guys! Those are the tips I have for you to become successful as a stylist….. I also know these steps will help in other creative fields as well. Generating and sticking with a solid plan for success is going to land you exactly where you want to be.
SPEAK IT INTO EXISTENCE. CREATE A VISION BOARD FOR YOURSELF.
SEE THE DREAM BECOME REALITY. GREAT THINGS HAVE SMALL BEGINNINGS.
Just make sure you are CONSISTENTLY doing your research, volunteering, Building your portfolio, Networking, and Reaching out to brands/ Companies! NEVER SIT AND BE IDLE…
Let me know what questions you have below in the comments and I'll be sure to answer them.