A stylist is a highly demanding profession. Not only do you have to keep up with the latest styles and fashion, but you have to balance it against the particular tastes and temperament of your customers. Every day, stylists help social media influencers and people from film and television look their best. They’re also found in the fashion industry and can be hired as a personal stylist to help improve someone’s wardrobe and overall appearance.
Stylists don’t just help color-coordinate clothes and wardrobe. They’re ultimately there to help you grow and cultivate your personal brand. That means they can design your color schemes, manage your wardrobe, provide critical shopping advice, or do your clothes shopping for you.
Stylists are the ultimate image consultants. So, for those looking for a rewarding career as a stylist, what steps should you take from just starting to becoming the CEO of your own stylist shop?
Here are five tips to get you started on the road to becoming a style expert and building a rewarding career.
1. Develop a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. Some must be more detailed than others. Becoming self-employed as a stylist may not require an elaborate business plan, but it nonetheless requires a plan. So, what should you include in that plan?
First, make sure to account that you may have a limited amount of revenue when starting. This is why saving up before your start is so important. A good rule of thumb is to have enough saved to support yourself for at least three months or more.
Second, be aware of cash flow. Even the best companies with the best ideas fall short simply because of cash flow. Make sure you incentivize customers with prompt payment initiatives or prepayment incentives.
Third, even if you’re going the route of getting an entry-level position in the fashion industry, be sure to define how many years of experience you’ll need before starting on your own. As with any profession, having a few years under a good salon or styling expert can make your CV more attractive to potential clients, so determine how long you should be an apprentice before starting out on your own.
A well-defined plan that maps out the cash flow, experience and tutelage needed is essential before you take the next steps.
2. It’s All About Networking
No matter where you start or how far you go, a good network is essential. The network’s ultimate purpose is to grow your client base. If you choose to work with fashion designers and well-known fashion industry professionals, then try to attend as many fashion shows and events in your area as possible. Those who do often have to decide between networking with established fashion icons and designers or building a network among the show’s attendees.
Build a rapport with your customers and colleagues. Each person can be your link to more contacts in the styling industry. Knowing a few names can help you either grow your own name, or provide you with clientele to patronize your future business.
3. Be Confident
The fashion and beauty industry is well known for its overly confident, brash, and somewhat rude fashion professionals. It can be a cutthroat business, but you’re not networking with them to win them over. You’re networking with them to develop a reputation.
Don’t be shy. Be confident, forthright, to the point, and straightforward, and never let anyone dissuade you or discourage you from your goals. You may need to speak to multiple people before landing that all-important fashion professional willing to give you the insight, guidance, and references you need.
4. Stay Up to Date and Relevant
There are plenty of successful stylists that have avoided established fashion designers altogether. These stylists have built their reputations and business without kowtowing to finicky models and designers. Depending on your aspirations, you can build a successful career by avoiding the fashion industry altogether.
However, now the question becomes how that’s possible. You’ll need to stay current with emerging trends to stay relevant. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to use. There are plenty of resources online. You can review the social media accounts of singers, actors, and other performers. You can track fashion professionals and designers.
There are plenty of online resources you can leverage to give you a leg up on the competition. This will also ensure your customer base deals with someone who stays up-to-date with emerging fashion trends.
5. Build a Successful Resume and Portfolio
Every career professional needs a well-written and well-constructed resume. That resume is a summary of your experience, accomplishments, and education. It provides potential employers, customers, and future partners with insight into who you are, what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished, and how reliable you are.
Even stylists need an impactful resume in order to grow their clientele. However, stylists also need a portfolio. A portfolio allows you to demonstrate how successful you’ve been at creating personal branding. You can provide before-and-after visuals that clearly demonstrate your success at changing someone’s life for the better.
That portfolio should also include some references. These are people that will vouch for your expertise. They’ve gone through the process of hiring you as a stylist. They know how much you’ve impacted their lives and helped them. Always use these references.
6. Grow your Online Presence
In the age of social media, nearly all stylists and influencers leverage social network platforms. They create an endless stream of potential customers and devoted followers. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build a successful online presence.
While developing your social media footprint takes time, doing so will provide immeasurable returns. You can emulate the strategies of other stylists. You can see how they use visuals and high-definition images. You can see what they post, what they blog about, and how often they update their status.
When building that social media presence, always be sure to interact with your followers. Don’t delete negative comments or input. The more feedback you receive, the better it is for your business. Welcome their feedback and provide them with answers without losing your patience or coming across as angry or resentful.
Realizing Your Dream
Becoming a successful stylist doesn’t always mean you need a university degree in fashion or design. It simply requires your willingness to apply what you’ve learned. Experience is key. Grab whatever opportunity you can to improve that experience.
The more experience you have, and the larger your network and social media presence, the more successful you’ll become.