1) What made you want to be a stylist?
For as long as I can remember, I loved dressing well. I started working at Macy's when I was in high school in the Young Men's department where I helped mothers pick clothes for their sons. I eventually developed a clientele that consists of parents who asked me to do personal shopping for their children. In addition, I believe styling is like art. I enjoy mixing-and-matching colors, fabrics, textures and styles to create an amazing and unique look. I'm happiest when a client says, "wow, I have never picked that out for myself, but I love it!" Or when they say, "I've never worn my hair like this but it's amazing!" I receive joy from helping people enhance and improve their look. I also very much enjoy the electricity of the fashion scene.
2) How'd you get into the business?
When I was in college and grad school, I never thought of being a stylist. I didn't know there was such a profession. I chose law, which was later deterred to public policy, and it eventually led to a 12 year career in management consulting. After about 5 or 6 years of consulting, I began to get antsy and so I started searching for something that I could do and be more passionate about. This search eventually led to an interest in image consulting where I studied it at FIT. I started seeing clients right after finishing my first class. I did this for 3 years before finally deciding to leave my well paid job as a management consultant. During the 3 years as a part-time stylist and image consultant, I managed 10 fashion shows during fashion week, styled several celebrities, was the Creative Director of an online magazine, and I have a roster of high profile private clients. These accomplishments were made possible through networking and building my credibility in the NYC fashion community.
3) What are some of the major aspects of a person that help you decide how to style them?
When I'm styling, my goal isn't to educate, but rather to bring to life a certain vision that I have in my head. I like to find out as much as I can about the person I'm styling. Then I create looks that are congruent with their personality and some looks that are completely juxtaposed to their personality. I don't like to dress every client the same way. I prefer to asses their personality and current appearance to improve on it to bring out their best features because not every "in" look will be appropriate for everyone. For instance, I recently styled a model from Oklahoma. She was a sweet, innocent looking, pretty southern girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. I did a few looks that complimented that part of her, and then I went crazy and did a hard biker-chick look with spikey hair and lots of black eye make-up. You'd never know she was the same person.
4) What is the most difficult part of being a stylist?
I would have to say dealing with different personalities and egos. In this industry, everyone wants to be the center of attention, so I have to deal with models who think they do no wrong, or photographers who think people must pay homage to them. I take it all in stride. I'm a pretty laid back person and I let people have their attitudes. At the end of the day, it's really all about creating and capturing the best look. I may rarely come across the type of person who want to fight my expertise every step of the way, however, I work through it by explaining my vision and that it is MY vision as the stylist. They usually get it and then back off. Also, because of my business background, I've learned to be a very good negotiator, and to get my way. The key to good negotiation is to make the opponent think that they're smarter and that they're getting the best of the situation, when in reality, I'm getting exactly what I want. The secret is to keep my ego hidden and to act naive.
5) What has been your best experience from being a stylist so far?
Oh my gosh, I just love everything about my job. I've worked with some great Broadway actors, including Megan Hilty who is starring in the new 9-5 play. I get to go to great parties and meet some cool people in addition to be able to work with people who are truly iconic in their professions. Through it all, I think that what makes me successful is my ability to stay humble, my professionalism, and my sense of uncompromising integrity. Without these things, I am nothing.
6) Do you have any Mother's Day gift ideas for us?
In this time of a recession, it's all about getting back to basics. Since many of people are out of work right now, simple handmade gifts are great options for moms on Mother's Day. If your mother is like mine, she would appreciate something that is personal and created by you more than the $100 bouquet of roses that will die in less than a week. Then again, my mother also says that she wants her flowers while she's alive so that she can smell and appreciate them.
This year, it's all about keeping it inexpensive, personal, and memorable. You want to look back a few years from now and say, "I remember I gave you that gift on mother's day in 2009 when we were in that horrible recession."
Thanks to David for spending some time answering these questions!!