We all long for that moment when we can say, “I made it!”. When all our hard work actually begins to pay off. Mine was in 2010, I moved to California to intern with Ellen DeGeneres’ stylist. From the time I decided that I wanted a career in fashion all I wanted to be was a stylist. Who wouldn’t want to spend all day around beautiful clothes? Within a month my dream was quickly becoming a reality. Actually, within hours! The day I emailed my resume, Ellen’s stylist called me an hour later. (Crazy right?) What I learned in those six months stemmed far greater than how quickly I could return and pick up garments or properly merchandise a rack for a fitting. I learned skills that would open doors and provide opportunities for success.
Relationships are everything. We’re all aware that networking is important, and that 9 times out of 10, it’s about who you know rather than what you know. In the world of styling, your relationships are your most valuable assets. You don’t have a career if you don’t have great relationships with different designers, showrooms and brands. It takes years to build these relationships, and typically takes years spent under someone who already has these resources to introduce you. I can’t stress this enough. Whether you like where you are at in your career or are still figuring out your next move, use each opportunity as a building block. Build relationships with those around you and then build on those. Never stop. Your success is a direct reflection of your resources.
Dress each day as if you will meet your celebrity crush. While interning for Ellen, I spent the majority of my days alone in her closet or in my car. It was hot, I was sweaty and constantly on the go. Typically a ponytail, a quick application of cover up and lip gloss and I’d be out the door. I’ll never forget the day Gerard Butler said “Hi” to me. I was just finishing my morning routine at the studio and was filling my car of all the returns I had to do for the day. His car pulled up right as I was walking out and we exchanged hellos. As geeked as I was that Gerard flippin’ Butler actually just said “Hi” to me, all I could think about was how horrible I must look. As a girl working in fashion (even if it was at the bottom of the totem pole) I didn’t at all look the part. Take it from me, getting up an extra 20 minutes each morning is worth it. You never know who you’ll meet each day or how they will contribute to your future.
Always return better than you receive. When working in styling you are constantly receiving packages of clothes and accessories to unpack just to repack again. It’s crucial that you treat each piece with respect despite how they were received. If there is one thing I am now a pro at, it’s returning items. It may require extra work, but it’s the impression you want designers and brands to perceive in order for them to want to work with you again. Your relationships skills must go beyond just building a list of resources. When using your resources always return the favor equally, if not better than that in which you received it.
More is more. A successful client fitting is all about options. More is definitely more. You can never really have enough. On any given day, we would typically merchandise 3-4 head to toe looks for Ellen per episode for her to pick through. Options were important, because you want to always be prepared. The most successful people aren’t the ones who come in everyday and just do the job they were hired to do. The most successful people do more. Don’t ever limit yourself in life, whether it be with you career or in any other aspect. Always have options, even if it requires extra work.
After six months, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – a position as the assistant stylist on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. And I turned it down. Call me crazy! But when I was offered the position, I was twenty-one. I was only half-way through college and earning my degree was important to me. I wasn’t ready to trade it in or put it on hold. I still had a lot of opportunities I wanted to explore and to be honest, a lot of growing up to do. Having the opportunity was a blessing and served as a valuable foundation, not only for a career in the fashion industry, but as a girl entering the corporate world.