Breaking Into Fashion and Editorial

Read the original article from Crystal Wright HERE

Working as a fashion and editorial hairstylist is one of the coolest gigs around. Who wouldn’t want to work backstage for major designers and see their work showcased on the cover of magazines like Vogue and Elle?

But trying to figure out how and where to get your foot in the door can leave even the most industrious stylist wondering whether to start with door number one, two or three.

Here are some simple steps you can take right now to gain a foothold in this illusive industry.

Assist. When you’re just starting out, assisting is one of the best ways to get ahead without being responsible for the outcome. As a support person you have the opportunity to watch, listen and learn.

Research three to five stylists whose work leaves you breathless and track them down on their websites, at their agency and on Instagram (IG). Engage by liking their IG posts, making relevant comments where appropriate and finally by sending an email to them and their agency with a clearly stated intention.

Follow up by phone and be persistent about your interest and your willingness to support them on upcoming projects where your skills could be of benefit — but, don’t get so involved you seem to be a stalker. Create a reminder on your phone to reach out via email and by phone once a month and don’t be surprised if it takes a few months before you get a response. This is a long game. Just stay ready.

Fortunately, fashion shows require large hair and makeup staffs, typically 18 – 20 hairstylists and 20 makeup artists per show. With 107 womenswear and 34 menswear shows twice a year in New York alone, there is always a need for talented artists. Starting your journey under the tutelage of a successful stylist who works on fashion shows, ad campaigns and magazine covers is a great way to get a leg up and will provide immediate benefits. Stylists are known for passing work onto their trusted assistant.

Build a professional online portfolio and Instagram profile. Showcasing your work professionally is an important aspect of attracting clients and photographers who can help you build a body of work. Working with the right photographers to build that body of work can seem like a catch 22, and begs the question that has plagued stylists for decades, “How do I attract great photographers without great images?”

Here’s the good news, advancement in mobile device technology has revolutionized image creation for people like you and me. With the help of your mobile device, an hour on YouTube learning how to “light beauty,” and a few clients with great hair and faces in a well-lit space in your salon, you can –– with practice –– generate those initial images are good enough to add to your IG profile and attract your first photographers, clients and the artists you want to assist.

My advice for finding a lighting class online is to search google for, “How to light beauty photography.” There is some great stuff out there  ––and it’s free.

Step two of this process is doing collaborative testing with photographers once you’ve attracted their interest. Follow the instructions on exactly how to identify and build relationships with the right photographers in The Hair Makeup & Fashion Styling Career Guide, Chapter 4: Photographers.

Do your research and stay ready. Learn everything you can about the people you want to work with. Get a sense of their artistic style, the beauty/fashion genre are working in and note exactly what you like about their work, why you would enjoy working with them and how you can add value as an assistant or a collaborator.

Not addressing these topics in advance is a recipe for disaster. When an artist asks, “Why do you want to assist me? or a photographer asks, “What do you like about my work?” you don’t want to start stumbling over your words trying to come up with something meaningful to say. That homework should be done well in advance.

Prepare yourself for success by visiting the websites and social media pages of the artists you hope to work with. Make a note of what you like about their work and jot down any questions you would like to ask. Be very clear and concise about what attracts you to their talent and style.

Often our efforts to connect falls flat because we haven’t done the proper research to engage. The stylist you want to assist has a resume of accomplishments and a website full of beautiful images that together weave a story that you should have questions about.

Give yourself a chance to get on first base by taking the time to know your subject –– in this case, the person you have an interest in working with. Be prepared with two or three questions and you’re on your way. Show excitement and enthusiasm when communicating with each artist.

Seek to build relationships. A celebrity makeup artist says, “Relationships are NOT microwavable.” It would be nice if we could just snap our fingers and the person we admire would become our best friend, provide us with introductions and give us all the work we desire. But it doesn’t really work like that does it?

Connecting with people in a meaningful way takes time, and personal effort. The time we invest is how we build trust. To do this, we must pay attention to people, listen, be prepared to serve, learn and show up both physically and mentally.

Reach out to agencies. Don’t stop at reaching out to individual artists; contact the agency staffers as well. The job title of the person you’re looking for is booker or agent. Get on their radar by sending a link to your online portfolio, and your IG account, whenever you add something new to your portfolio. In my book, The Hair Makeup & Fashion Styling Career Guide, Chapter 5: Agency Representation provides step-by-step instructions on how to get added to the assistants list as well as how to get signed as a major player.

Submit your work to magazines for publication. Dozens of magazines (print and online) accept story submissions from photographers. Not all photographers are aware of this opportunity and may need an encouraging nudge from the glam squad –– that’s you –– to submit their images. Submitting work for consideration takes confidence, but if the work is good, someone is going to publish it. Just don’t give up.

My favorite downloadable resource is Lindsey Adler’s free guide, “Get Published 2.” It’s a magazine submission resource guide for photographers that you can benefit from as well. While the photographer is submitting stories that you have worked on together, you can submit your own work as a hairstylist to the same publications to get hired for future job assignments. Get Adler’s wonderful guide at http://promo.lindsayadlerphotography.com/getpublished, where she’s listed 100 magazines that accept submissions.

Begin implementing these steps today and you’re on your way to an exciting and successful career in fashion and editorial.