As a fashion and product stylist, I research and gather apparel, accessories, products, and props needed for photos. These photos are then used by a brand/company to sell a garment or product. The items I research are typically inspired by a concept or idea, which usually ties together art, design, lifestyle, or historical elements. I apply technical skills both on figure (with models) and off figure (still life) to make products look amazing! ☺ The type of work I create spans across different styles, including editorial (hyper creative), lifestyle (advertising/commercial), and more.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I was raised in a creative family in beautiful Santa Cruz, California. From a young age, I was exposed to many forms of art and culture, and was taught to be open minded and curious. As a kid and teen, I trained in multiple forms of dance, and loved dressing up and performing. This lead me to begin playing more with my personal style, and setting up photo shoots with friends in my backyard.
After high school, I moved to San Francisco to study fashion and explore a more vast, creative hub. I earned my BFA in Visual Merchandising at The Academy of Art University. While studying, I was linked up with my mentor, Michael Carbaugh, who taught me much of what I know in styling. We worked on countless shoots together – it was incredible! I had a few internships as well – fashion show production at Dizon Inc., visual display at Anthropologie, and working in the fashion closet at Teen Vogue magazine.
After college, I moved to NYC – it felt like the right thing to do, especially considering I had more of an editorial flair to my work. After I arrived, it didn’t take long for me to hit the first wall of my career. I interviewed at agencies like Streeters, and was told that I was in a good place to assist and intern, but not be signed on as a stylist. At the time, I was devastated – I thought I had what it took to be signed! But, looking back now, I see that I was nowhere near ready. I had so much courage and determination – but lacked years of technical experience and development. This took me time to come to terms with, but now I see that I should’ve just assisted for a while and had fun with it!
I moved back to California a couple of years later – NYC just wasn’t for me for long term. I began teaching at my alma matter and became the fashion editor of Bob Cut Mag, an SF-based lifestyle magazine. There, I was able to greatly expand my portfolio, develop my style, and deepen my roster of resources and business relationships. That really propelled me to the next stage of my career: being signed to an agency and freelancing in Los Angeles! (You can imagine how incredible if felt to hear a “yes” from an agency years later.)
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
From what I’ve noticed, stylists that really make it in this industry are excellent communicators, people-oriented, and not scared of taking risks. As a teacher, I mentor a lot of newer stylists who are starting out in their careers. I encourage them to move past feeling timid or nervous of being rejected. Also, as artists, we have a hard time letting go of our personal thoughts. Many of us think “we aren’t good enough”, when really, our work is phenomenal! Half the battle is moving past your inner fears. Then, work on opening up (in your own way), and reach out to the industry. It’s okay to be shy, but you need to build a network of vendors, collaborators, and professionals in order to have a successful career as a stylist. Being too shy to approach someone at an event isn’t going to help get you anywhere!
Throughout my career, the times when things have worked out really well are because of my vast pool of resources. Having brands, agencies, and collaborators to contact in a jiffy is really the dream! You can’t produce a shoot without their help, after all.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I just moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, so that is my main project right now! I just got an apartment and a car, so I’m officially in full swing into my new LA lifestyle. As I work on settling in, I’m gearing up inspiration for future shoots I want to work on. Many will be portfolio builders, as I want to expand my cosmetics, beauty, and floral styling skills. Lastly, I’m researching and networking with new people and resources here in Los Angeles! The resources here are so plentiful – from showrooms to prop houses – it feels like a Stylist’s dream world!
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
I was once dubbed a “mixologist”, as I mix and match the most peculiar items. In one outfit, you may see an oversized sequined top from the 80s, alongside a traditional Thai silk wrap skirt, with chunky wooden jewelry from Africa! A lot of people say to me, "I could never pull off what you wear/create!" My perspective is, don't put a limit on your style - it would take away all the fun! Also, you just need the attitude or confidence, and you can rock anything. :-) Throughout my work, you’ll notice my love for color, textiles, and textures. In my product styling work, I enjoy playing with props in two totally different styles: natural vs. man-made. I love working with “raw ingredients” – flowers, leaves, food, etc. On the flip side, I also love working with plastics, metals, and synthetic materials. It’s an interesting duality that I believe I bring to the table!
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
Right now, I am missing visual merchandising a bit! I love designing and building window displays, then creating them from scratch, installing them with a team, and seeing the reaction from customers. It’s incredibly fun. I’m also wanting to focus on my floral styling/design skills more intensely, as these skills can also carry over into my styling and sourcing work.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
My current frustration is being new in a large city, and having to start over with my resources and vendors list. But, I also see this as a fun adventure that I’m on. Soon enough, I’ll have a plentiful list of go-to resources that I can call on for any project!
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
As of right now, there’s not much that I would have them do for me. Ask me that 1-2 months ago, and my answer would have been totally different! I guess I could hire them to check out the resources I mentioned above – vendors that supply props, materials, backdrops, etc. I would have them take pictures for me and tell me what was best to check out at each one. That would at least give me a little head’s start!
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
Wow, this is a big question for me! I’ve thought about this a lot through my 20s. I would definitely go back to the college years, say age 21-22. Those were incredible years – don’t get me wrong, but also very vulnerable years. At that time, I was building a variety of skills and had so many ideas of what I wanted to do in life. (Styling, visual merchandising, social media, etc.) For some reason, I felt like I could only choose one career direction, as I felt that my variety of skills made me look unfocused. Later in my 20s, I realized that my variety of skills was actually my strength, and has lead me to easily jump from one creative job to the next! So, I would tell my 22 year old self these things:
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
If possible, I would pick the brains of stylists who have more experience than me about their techniques. I’m always open to learning and sharpening my skills. Also, advice on the live/work balance, and making money (doing what I love) is always helpful!
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
I’m very open to all kinds of collaborations/projects where I can both apply my skills and grow! Both on figure and off figure work would be great.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
Ideally, I love working with flexible, open minded, positive people who love to create. An ideal concept would be something quirky, offbeat, or meaningful. A great color palette is important to me, as well as interesting products or props.
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
My day rate ranges based on the client or job. For more information or details, feel free to contact my agency.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Feel free to send me an email anytime. Whether you have a solid idea or are still figuring it out, I’m always down to chat or meet up and help develop the concept!
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Explore, dance, travel, stay curious.
This member profile was originally published in August 2017, Updated April 2018.