“Well, well, well … fancy seeing you. I was beginning to think a creative professional no longer lived here.” This is what I imagined my blog would say if it could talk. Many moons ago, I asked you to join me on my creative journey. However, it’s difficult to be a passenger when I’m not walking, when access has been denied, or when I’m holding my talent hostage.
While in NYC a few weeks ago, enjoying fish, grits and my signature bacon, the topic of my blog came up. *bbm can’t watch face* As I devoured the last bit of @ellegee47′s grits and body rolled with @jovizi the conversation got real. *cues opening from MTV’s series, Diary* “You think you know … but you have no idea.”
My issue was two-fold. For months, I’d been working on some amazing projects with great teams. (Judging by the October date of my last post, you wouldn’t know.) I felt growth with every shoot and saw the depth and range of my portfolio increasing. As a fashion stylist, I was elated! Then I thought, “I’m going to wait until after this next shoot before I update my site and blog. No, no, wait … after I get THESE images back from THIS shoot, I’m going to post.” By the time I got a handle on everything, it was May. All I could do was shake my head. I had become paralyzed by perfection. #Shoutout to Tia Smith.
Secondly, the more I hustled to build a stronger portfolio, the more I compared my work to other fashion stylists who’d been in the industry for YEARS. I started to think my portfolio was not on par with those I admired. It had reached the point where I actually could not stand looking at my work. It was a vicious cycle.
After completely revamping my website (coming soon), I had to take step back and have a few conversations with my family from the Creative Hostel. They helped me put my artistry in perspective. You can never measure your success by that of others. Everyone has a different journey and ordered steps; you just have to be prepared to walk. Suddenly in the background, I heard a voice. Is that you Kirk Franklin?!?! Is the storm over now??? You sure, because I’m putting away my trench coat, umbrella and galoshes. I’m finally ready to release my talent from bondage.
In an earlier post, I discussed the goal of getting my work published and the pitfalls of chasing tear sheets. Well, a lot has happened since that post. My work has been featured in a several publications, with more on the way. *bbm party face* I want to share my very first tear sheet from the December issue of T&M Magazine. Shot by Joao Carlos in a penthouse on Miami’s South Beach, Perdida De Amor (Lost Love) delves into the soul of a woman whose husband has gone astray. I hope you enjoy viewing the images as much as I did styling them.
Special thanks to @lmoney21, @L10_MIA, @ellegee47, @HewbieMac, @carmtasticc, @Dino_Teme, @jovizi, @EUmphery & @ELLEvation.
As I cooked breakfast for myself this morning, I decided to check my bank account. *thinks* If I could just add one more zero behind that one, I’d have ten whole dollars. iKID, iKID. But in all honesty, since starting my journey as a full-time fashion stylist and creative director, I’ve had to make numerous sacrifices for my craft. It’s rare I’ll go into a store and shop for myself anymore. The days of purchasing a $250 pair of jeans are over.com/whatwereyouthinkinganyway, and I can no longer financially justify my love of Ferragamos. *deep sigh*
Instead, all my money goes to sustaining my business, which of course includes PORK Bacon and Red Velvet. #NOM! As a stylist, you always need working capital for shoots, especially when styling agency-signed models. It’s the never-ending, buy-and-return process. Purchase merchandise for the shoot, pray to Sweet Baby Jesus, who lies ever-so peacefully in his manger that the model does not damage anything, then steam, re-tag, fold and return the merchandise to the respective stores. *bbm whew face* Talk about risky business!
If you continue to buy and return in the same stores, your face becomes familiar to the staff. Some stores have the right to refuse returns, so you have to be strategic. I look at returns as if I’m going to war. My battleship WILL NOT be sunk. I often purchase at one store’s location and return to another. If that’s not an option, I change the shift of when I return the clothes. I know of some stylists that have been stuck with hundreds of dollars in merchandise because the store refused the return. What’s an up-and-coming stylist to do?!?!
Well, some stores will allow a stylist to pull (borrow) clothing and accessories and pay a 20-30% restocking fee of the total. *bbm talk to the hand face* Did I mention that I’m an up-and-coming stylist??? LOL I need ALL of my dollars returned to me. Another option is pulling from designers and showrooms. Depending on your relationship, the pull could be free, come with a rental fee, or result in signing your life away for $30,000 worth of merchandise on a loan agreement. Not to mention, if the designer is located in a different city or country, the shipping fees you will incur. Essentially, you have to spend money to make money. You don’t want all your looks to be off the rack as you progress in your career.
To sum it all up, being a fashion stylist is not always glamorous, but it’s rewarding if you’re willing to put the work into building your brand. One cannot have tunnel vision when pursuing their creative passion; you have to look at the bigger picture. Most importantly you have to do it because you’re passionate. Sometimes that’s all you have…
Check out my video interview with WA2 for his Young, Fly & Broke series. I go into a little more detail about my life as a stylist. If you would like the recipe for my brown sugar cured bacon, shoot me an email. Enjoy!
Inspiration comes in the strangest forms. Mine often reveals itself over food The other day, while making fried whiting, cheddar cheese grits and applewood smoked bacon, it came to me… like an epiphany! *music break* “I think I’m just about over…” Shout out to my tweetheart, Chrisette Michelle. If you follow me on Twitter, then you know how much I love and respect her as an artist.
In the midst of preparing dinner for folks at the creative hostel came my realization: I’ve been so excited about the recent growth and development of my career, that I started to get hustle mixed up with stupidity. When you’re passionate about anything, it not only resonates with you, but your circle. Your family and friends will become your support system and personal PR team. I can’t begin to elaborate on the number of clients I’ve acquired and connections I’ve made because of my circle. They are apart of my success.
As a fashion stylist & creative director, one of my immediate goals is to have my work published in a magazine. Instead of letting it happen organically, I began to chase a tear sheet – an example of your work that can be torn from a publication – by any means necessary. *adjusts Malcolm X glasses*
I set up a meeting with a photographer who had strained relationships in many facets of the fashion industry. His reputation and ego proceeded himself – which sometimes is not a bad thing because you know what you’re getting before the train comes. His goal was to start a beach inspired fashion publication and I saw myself becoming an integral part of the staff in the magazine’s infancy stages. Half way through the meeting, my soul was unsettled. At that point I was aware this new relationship would be toxic. However, I wanted that tear sheets so I pressed forward and agreed to take on a number of tasks, despite photographer’s demeaning tone.
So as the grease began to pop, I realized I made it this far from sweat equity, intuition, keen business practices and great support system. My guerrilla approach could have affected my brand, integrity and progress to date. Instead I decided to do what Will Smith so eloquently stated in his video on my previous post, “You don’t try to build a wall. You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say, I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built. You don’t start there. You say, I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. And you do that every single day and soon you have a wall.”
Life’s funny that way…wouldn’t you know it, less than a week later, the fashion gods shined their Ferragamos down on me. *bbm party face* I will be working with two publications in August who’s brands I respect and admire. I won’t say much…now. I’ll let the tear sheets speak for themselves. #POW
Dear PORK Bacon,
Ahhhh, the other white meat. Some may be troubled by our love affair, and you know what, I’m ok with that. Many of my family and friends have abandoned you over the years and I bid them adieu and say, “Good reddens.” Others have tried to replace you; turkey and beef substitutes just wont due. You’ve kept it fresh and new, constantly re-inventing yourself. Applewood Smoked, Hickory Smoked, Maple Brown Sugar Cured, I love them all.
I like to prepare you a bed, covered with aluminum foil. Placing you side by side as I drizzle my Aunt’s syrup (Aunt Jemima) all over your body. Then I crack black pepper over your skin just for a little character. Out of a 375 degree oven, you look delectable. All I can say is nom nom nom *Cookie Monster voice* My Boo, the syrup is glistening all over your body. I say, the syrup is just glistening all over your body. You’re caramelized, salty, a bit sweet, smoky, and both meaty and crisp. What else can a man ask for?
I look forward to the time when I can enjoy you everyday, but for now and doctor’s order, I will consume you in moderation…meaning every other day and twice on Saturday.
*bbm whew face* so I’ve finally finished reading Barack Obama’s, Dreams from My Father after about 2 years. Don’t judge me, lol. It was my travel book, so I only read it in the airport or the plane, when I wasn’t sleep. It surprised me, how much our experiences with our fathers paralleled. No my mother is not white and no my father does not have 4 wives (not that there’s anything wrong with that…iKID). I’m speaking more so from our interactions, their influence and our struggle to find acceptance and answers.
Visiting Nigeria for the first time was both humbling and amazing. It’s difficult to fully express what the experience meant to me and how it changed my outlook on family, tradition, and culture. I was able to spend a few days in the capital, Abuja and my remaining weeks in Port Harcourt mixed with a day trip to Aba.
Now, I speak very little of my native tongue, Igbo, but thanks to friends and family I managed not to get ripped off too bad or get kidnapped. That coupled with my $1 haircut, and brief bout with the runs *thanks Imodium A-D* I’d say it was a great trip. Unfortunately, I did NOT see my father (this makes year 22 ) but I know his lessons and principles help guide my path, and the culture of Nigeria heavily influences my perspective on fashion.
Nigerians might be some of the flyest people I know…and I can say that speaking from first hand experience. *pops dashiki* As a stylist I’m not afraid to mix different patterns, colors, and textures. In fact, I rather enjoy it. Spending over two weeks in Nigeria only confirmed where I draw this inspiration. It’s from the children walking to primary school in their uniforms, from the older lady at the market selling stock fish in her traditional, from the young boys playing football, from the bride preparing for her nuptials searching intensely for her husband amongst the crowd and from the father walking with his family to church.
Check out the images below to get a glimpse into my journey and to understand how Nigeria planted the seeds of style in me. Enjoy.