I am a fashion maven. Not a stylist, not a consultant, but a maven.
The definition of maven reads as follows: One who is experienced or knowledgable in a specific subject; an expert or a connoisseur. After years of being a fashion stylist, I realized that what I now did was much more than that. The goal of my current business is not just to dress people, but to teach them how to do it on their own through my expertise. I have gathered a ridiculous amount of information in my almost 15 years of running this business and nothing gives me more joy then sharing my absurd knowledge with the masses.
My career has seen many twists and turns. At this point I literally think I have seen and done it all. People always ask me how I got into this business, how I maintain my client list, so on and so forth. I decided it was time to tell the story, to answer all of the questions about this crazy career that I essentially decided to get into with no formal training or experience. When you are 23 and you decide you want to do something, you do it. You have no fear of failing and the unknown is everything, so how can it be scary? You have no stability in life yet so instability is your norm. That is the best way to start a business my friends, with no back-up plan so you have no choice but to succeed.
Firstly I had to decide who and what I was about. I thought I was going to be a photo shoot stylist. I had moved to Chicago after college in Boston with NO connections, but isn’t that what Google is for? I literally sat at my computer and looked up fashion stylists and asked for advice or opportunities. Chi-town peeps are good people so they actually responded to me. I was introduced to an agent who would go on to represent me for commercial work. This proved to be a great introduction, but let me be clear, in all my years of photo shoot styling it barely added up to paying my rent. It is grueling work that always seems to be “for your portfolio”. Unfortunately that does not feed me (my stomach or my shopping habit).
Although I literally made no money, the beauty of that connection is that my lovely agent went over to Harpo (that’s Oprah’s production company for those that live in a hole). Remember, I was in Chicago at the time where she was filming her show. I got an amazing call from my former agent one day asking if I wanted to come to Oprah’s studios and meet a senior producer about doing “behind the scenes makeovers”. Um, yes please. When I arrived, the producer asked if I worked with individuals and I said yes. I figured it was a little white lie since that didn’t seem too far out of my wheelhouse even though I had never officially done it before. And voila, my first personal client was born.
This was a whole new world to me. Now I didn’t have to rely on an agent to call me with a job, I could build my own business with personal clients. First up, branding. I had to create a logo for my business so I began to question who I wanted to target. I had to build a website (Ok, I hired someone to do it) and start marketing the hell out of myself. My original logo included the girl to the right who obviously was an image created in my likeness. I grew to hate this bitch. Why is she so damn perky?? Eventually I re-did my branding years later and switched to a more sophisticated fashion sketch. I am SO sophisticated yo.
Photo shoots were mostly a thing of the past, but I did enjoy doing them every now and then while I was building my business. They looked great on my site and showed off my more creative side since you can really get crazy when you are telling a “fashion story”. That gal on the top left is from one of my early shoots. WTF. Why did I wrap tulle around her waist and put a dirty white trench coat on her? Was this story about ugly dressing? Ah, live and learn. But hey, I got to style Kate Moss. Yup, that is definitely the one and only supermodel Kate Moss in the top right shot. Ok, I was actually the assistant on that shoot, but it was one of the most surreal moments of my life. She was nice as hell and running around naked because she doesn’t give a shit. She was super friendly and I still have a girl crush on her. The rest of the images are from one of many magazine spreads I did much later in my career. When you are in NYC you have access to everything fabulous so you can really go all out with the styling. As much as I love doing shoots, they really pay jack shit and the amount of work is cray. I am too old and too materialistic to work for donuts.
One of my favorite thing to do is host fashion events. This one was at a Bloomingdales in Short Hills, NJ. As you can see, my face is on that poster. I am sure you can imagine this was highly entertaining for me. For this particular event I was literally just walking around assisting customers with styling possible purchases. Seriously, it was great! You get paid very well for them to basically use your name and image to promote an event. I have also hosted fashion shows at Macy’s before which is WAY more work. Showing up and smiling is one thing, putting together 20 looks for a runway show is an entirely different beast.
Over the years I have gone on television a bunch of times. Sometimes I am just commentating on trends or awards show style and other times I am pushing products that someone has paid me to do. I’ve got to be honest, there is good money in product pushing, but talking about bad fashion on a red carpet gives me a certain kind of high. I have also been on not one, but two reality shows. Seriously, I couldn’t make that up. The picture above is from a segment on Arise 360 I did with a fellow cast member from a show called Million Dollar Shoppers on Lifetime. It was crazy. Filming that show took years off my life. People think being on a television show is the most glamorous thing in the world, but I have never worked harder on anything in my life. You never stop working in production, the hours are insane. The glamour of it after the fact is definitely fun, but the journey to red carpet arrival is like climbing a mountain. A really big mountain.
In addition to hosting events, I also do Sass N Style workshops. This is the biggest one I ever did with 250 people in attendance. I had 2 models, a man and a woman, that I styled to showcase the concepts I was highlighting. I LOVE talking about style to large audiences, both men and women, of all different shapes, sizes, lifestyles and socio-economic backgrounds. Everyone gains something different from attending and leaves with a better sense of understanding their body and how to dress it. It truly is the best feeling when attendees reach out to me after the workshop to tell me how it has affected their confidence. It is the reason I do what I do, it is why I now call myself a maven!
As I mentioned, I do love the glamorous part of my job. I am mostly running around in the trenches, but on occasion, I do get to be in front of the camera or walk a red carpet. The picture on the left is from the first reality show I did with Tommy Hilfiger on CBS called “The Cut”. How funny do I look? That picture never looked like me, I am not a pouty kind of gal. It was my press shot that didn’t get much airtime since I was kicked off first. Oh yea, I lasted 5 days before I was sent to no-where New Jersey to rot away in a hotel. Note to readers: If you are on a competition reality show you are not allowed to go home when you get kicked off. You are sent to a far off place until filming is done. That is where all the crazy happens because you start to lose your mind and every 3 days another reality show loser shows up. That is a whole other very insane blog post…. The image to the right is a truly happy moment. I was all dolled up and on a very real red carpet for Million Dollar Shoppers in a fancy dress (that I returned the next day). No one ever actually owns the dresses they wear on the red carpet!
Fashion styling is hard work for the most part, you are lugging things, up long hours, killing yourself physically and smiling for your clients at the same time. With that said, imagining myself in a cubicle or doing a “regular job” seems insane. I realized early on in my career based life that I was going to live a life outside of the box, that my creativity was going to be the driving force behind my life. Don’t ever let society tell you what you can do, be the master of your own journey.