Qlette Profiles: Liz Teich

SEPTEMBER 12, 2012

Photo: Joshua Boccheciamp

Meet Liz Teich.  Fashion stylist and the owner/jewelry designer for etc… modern vintage jewelry.

You haven’t always been in fashion.  What were you doing before digging your heels into the style world?

I was an art director in advertising, creating concepts and layouts for clients like Maybelline. You may have seen some of my ads on cabs and in top fashion magazines. Now, as a stylist I find and put together the wardrobe and props for photoshoots for magazines, retail catalogs and websites and advertising campaigns like the one I once created.

What made you want to leave the ad world?

When I was in the advertising world, I loved the artistic and innovative aspects of it, but loathed working in an office everyday. I found it to be a tough environment to inspire creativity and often felt drained from staring at a computer for 50-60 hours/week. I needed more human interaction and an environment more inspiring than a cubicle.

I also found that my favorite part of the job was coming up with the styling for the ads. With experience in fashion from RISD, at the fashion company, Chaiken, and assisting a stylist on photoshoots prior to being an art director, choosing looks to brief the stylists for our photoshoots—which I always begged to go on — felt natural.  There’s a rush you get being on set, watching your concept come to life. It was frustrating that a creative director who had no part in the original conceptual process was usually the one actually on set following through with this.

Less than three years into my career as an art director, I decided to quit with the intention of pursuing something in fashion and began to gather contacts immediately.

For Quarterlettes who are looking to start their own company, tell us about what it was like going out on your own.

It was a terrifying feeling to leave my cushy job to start all over again at the bottom rung, working for peanuts just to get experience. I went from working every day, with benefits, a 401k, and an impressive portfolio to basically nothing. I was really lucky that I was able to freelance at the company where I had interned (Chaiken) with the understanding that if assistant styling gigs came along, I could take them.  I contacted everyone in the industry I could get ahold of. Slowly I would get calls to be a 3rd assistant on a TV commercial or to intern (for free!!) on a photoshoot. I took anything that came my way just to get the experience and make connections. Those people would pass my info along and pretty soon I was working steadily as a freelance fashion stylist assistant.

The scariest part was that it took over a month to get my first paycheck. Sometimes clients wouldn’t pay for 90 days.  I decided to sell the jewelry I was making on the side at local NYC designer markets to make some extra money on the weekends. It was exhausting and sometimes I would go a few weeks without a day off, but I ended up making nearly as much money as I did when I worked in an office. The best part was that I got to create my schedule, was paid for overtime, and while I started out working for other people for the first few years, I ultimately was my own boss.

How do you motivate yourself when things don’t go as planned or when you hit a roadblock?

I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to work. I could be feeling over-worked and I’ll complain that I haven’t had a day off…but then I’ll find myself with holds for jobs that don’t go through and I think another job will never come along. The best advice I ever received was that it’s just a job. You have to keep working at it. Another opportunity always comes along.

What’s your most memorable day so far as a stylist?  

There are quite a few of these, but it’s a tie between styling Mike Tyson and the founder of Twitter, Biz Stone. Both are major, influential people in our culture (for very different reasons of course), so it was such an honor to be able to work with them and hear both of their stories in person. It was also very gratifying when both kept some of the wardrobe that I picked out for them.

Photo: Bill Miles

When you were little what was your favorite outfit?

It was nearly a replica of the dress, socks and mary-janes from the 80’s TV show “Small Wonder”, where the main character, Vicki, was a robot disguised as a cute little girl. Looking back on it, it’s pretty creepy, but it was my first experience with being influenced in fashion—before I discovered Madonna.

What is your favorite trend that you can’t pull off? 

Pretty much everything I did when I was a kid that’s coming back now to young hipsters: crop-tops, body suits, overalls, scrunchies. I tried it once, and that was enough.

On your blog, Dear Andi, you often reference your mother’s style.  How did her sense of style influence yours?

She’s among one of my many style icons.  The rest of the list includes Bridgette Bardot, Carly Simon, Jane Birkin and Stevie Nicks, most of whom happen to be from the same eras that she was so stylish in. There was such a carefree spirit to all of their styles back in the 60’s and 70’s – they always looked put together and sexy in a subtle way. The thing I admire the most about my mother’s style was that it’s all her own.  When I was growing up she was always wearing something amazing—even to garden in the yard! She wasn’t a slave to labels and she often made her own clothing. She lived for making me outfits as well and even kept a dresser of vintage clothing just for me to play dress-up with.

Left: Andi; Right: Liz

You’re also a jewelry designer with your own label. What is your inspiration?

About a year into my first career, I started to make jewelry to relieve stress and as an outlet for creativity that I felt was lacking in my job. It started out because I was frustrated that there wasn’t anything that I could afford out there that looked like an old heirloom that you’ve been wearing for years. My mother was a jeweler and collected antiques, so I had a ton of loose findings just going to waste. I decided to resurrect them and make them into charm necklaces and bracelets. About a year later, I had women lining up at my cubicle to buy my designs. That’s when I realized I had to pursue this further.

Anne-Marie Slaughter recently said in The Atlantic that women still can’t have it all. Do you think women can have it all?  

I would say yes—you can have it all, but maybe not all at once. There are some periods in my life when one thing has had to give whether it’s my career or personal life, but you just have to find the right balance that works for you. The most important thing is to love what you do, because your happiness and health are more important than anything else. Yes, you may have to work hard, but as the saying goes, if love what you do every day, then it’s not work.

 

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1 COMMENT

  • Kate Boccheciamp 4 years ago

    Great interview! Very informative and helpful!