As of today, I'm no longer doing wardrobe styling. Ever again. Actually that's quite an exaggeration. What I meant to say is, I'll be focusing on my ultimate passion, creative direction. I guess you can say, I've been doing it all along.
7 years ago, I started this thing of creating mood boards, booking talent, collaborating with photographers, makeup artists, designers and creatives alike to tell stories. Along the way, I've been published in print and online magazines, met insanely talented people, oh, and started a blog. I started a blog out of necessity, to have a creative outlet because my full time job wasn't doing it for me. At all.
I was excited to leave work at 6pm and head to the hottest events, take pictures with my then Blackberry and post the images with a cute little blurb about it. I remember the first event I covered on my own was a Chanel exhibit. I remember waiting in line with my then significant other (or whatever you would call it) at the time. It was raining and cold, but I couldn't help but be excited. It was the first of many events I'd cover.
I'd remember putting together complete productions of shoots: thinking of the concept, creating the mood boards, going on Model Mayhem and scouting models, hair and makeup artists and photographers. Thinking of locations and days to shoot. Which brands I could convince to give me clothes to shoot with. It was more than dressing pretty people, it was a full fucking production.
As the years went on and I tried to go out on my own, I started to realize that many people didn't realize that it was. A production. And that was reflective in the amount of clients I've had. To this day I've only had about 2-3 clients that I've actually styled. 7 years. 2-3 clients. What a fucking let down right?! You're probably wondering well maybe you're not doing enough. Maybe you didn't want it enough.
That couldn't be farther from the truth. I loved styling and the production aspect that I've tried to go out on my own about 3 times on separate occasions. But each time I was met with disappointment and rejection. Most of the images you've seen online have been from projects I've produced & styled on my own dime. Which means I was paying something and I had no budget. That's how much I loved it. That's how much I believed in this dream.
I thought that maybe I needed more experience. I mean after staying at Macy's for 6 years doing marketing, product development and merchandising in conjunction with producing and styling shoots on my days off and the weekends AND having a second job doing Visual Merchandising for about a year, maybe I needed more practice assisting on sets with more established stylists. Granted I have an amazing pedigree but I entertained the idea for a year. As one last shot. Because at this point of pitching who I was and what I did, I started doubting why I was persuing this idea anyway?
so after I left Macy's last year, I focused on styling. I re-activated my model mayhem account, started putting myself out there to do test shoots and reaching out to old contacts to set up my own shoots. I told myself I'd do this for a few months and then really start going out there and charging for my services.
Along the way, I started volunteering with a non-profit organization, Safe Horizon. Every few months, I put together events that promoted a positive self image and confidence. My first event was an Interview Attire Workshop. In Decemeber , I put together a Ladies Night Out event. M.A.C. Cosmetices makeup artists came to the safe house to do the ladies makeup, Eden Body Works supplies gifts and Manhattanville Coffee provided monetary donations for food and gifts. It was amazing and truly was fulfilling. You realize that in the grand scheme of things, your life is small, life isn't hard and anything is truly figureoutable, as Marie Forleo always says.
while volunteering was fulfilling, I began to fill stagnant as just a wardrobe stylist. I thought the hours were insane, the expectations didn't reflect the compensation and being the only woman of color on set was really starting to aggravate me. I felt like I was back at Macy's all over again.
I was starting to feel like styling didn't love me back and I was beginning to fall out of love with it also. moreover I really wanted to figure out what I wanted my life to look like in 5, 10, even 15 years from now. And staying on the path of wardrobe styling was not going to provide a fulfilling life FOR me. I had plenty of examples too. When I assisted stylists, I saw the good, the bad and the ugly. And it was mostly bad and ugly. Late payments or no payments at all. Hearing stories of maxing out credit cards to make ends meet until payouts and companies going bankrupt outweighed the final execution of a project. The final wake up call came when I was constantly texting, calling and emailing a stylist for a payment. I was behind on my bills and desperately needed the pay I deserved from doing a job, 4 months before. I realized that I couldn't see my life constantly chasing the job. I had to make a decision. I decided to live for me and really think bigger picture.
For me the end goal has always been creative direction. whether it would be for a brand or several brands, lifestyle or apparel, it caters to all of the skills I've acquired over the past 7 years. So, what's next? Expect more editorials featuring amazing local brands, editorial driven outfit posts, #stylepowerchar Twitter chat every other week and more creative projects from me. I'll try to get a little vacation or two in there. *wink*