According to accounts given by my family, I came out of the womb as a lover of fashion, beauty, and all things aesthetically pleasing. I used to wear shirts and footsy pajamas on my head and tell people it was my “long, curly hair”. My first fashion illustration was essentially a sun with pouty, Angelina-esque lips and billions of eyelashes. The point is, I have always loved fashion and creativity.
But something happens over the course of late childhood and teen-dom. Something that suppresses innate creativity and originality. You start to care what people think. You listen to people around you when they talk about how difficult adult life is, and how you need to be prepared. You study and work hard to go to college and eventually choose a career you can tolerate. You may not love it or even like it, but then again, “nobody loves going to work everyday”. That’s what you hear.
I tried to love the career I chose. I really did. There are still aspects that I love, and there are people I work with who I love. But every time I thought about doing the job I had chosen for the rest of my life, it felt like a sentence. That is not a life. I tried to squeeze into that box, but I just couldn’t. I like being happy, and it goes against my being to settle for anything less than that.
When I finally accepted this, I decided that it was time for me to make moves. I didn’t like the situation I was in, so it was up to me to change it. I needed to (as Oprah would say) “follow my bliss”! But what was my bliss? To find out, I had to think back to what had consistently brought me joy over the course of my life. Only one thing came to mind: fashion. Clothes, jewelry, accessories, art; that’s what I had always been best at, because I loved it. It was more an “uh duhhh” moment than an “aha!” moment.
I knew it would be hard to transition into the fashion world. My current job had nothing to do with fashion. I was prepared to work from the ground up. I was prepared to work from BENEATH the ground up. I revamped my resume and applied to every entry-level fashion position I could find. I followed every lead, stalked every person I knew doing anything related to fashion. But alas, no one wanted me! The bottom line is that in any field, you don’t get the job if you don’t have the experience, and you can’t gain the experience if you can’t get the job. It was discouraging, but I still had faith that the tides would eventually turn.
In the midst of all this, my wonderful, supportive, ever-Googling boyfriend happened upon a site for a company called Style for Hire. One night over dinner, he asked if I had ever heard of “some stylist named Stacy London“. Of course I had. What female hadn’t seen “What Not to Wear” on TLC? He then told me about how she had started the company Style for Hire, a network of stylists that the everyday person could afford. In addition, they offered a workshop for established AND wannabe stylists! It was held in NYC – a.k.a. my backyard. A sign? I decided I had to do it. I signed up.
Not only did attending the workshop mean the chance to learn from Stacy and her team, but you could also land a spot as a styling apprentice. Now, I had no illusions of grandeur. I went into the workshop thinking it would be great to be chosen as an apprentice, but it was more likely that this would just be a great learning experience to add to my resume. Then I walked into the Trump SoHo on the day of the workshop, and saw an army of women who looked like they had just come from the office. Anna Wintour’s office. Maybe I’d have to stay at that 9 to 5 job after all.
The two days of the workshop were long, informative, and somewhat nerve-racking. Throughout the workshop, I paid close attention and focused on showing off my skills without talking over anyone or trying to steal the spotlight during the closet challenges (judged by Stacy). I wanted to get the most out of the experience, not brown-nose.
A week went by with no word from Style for Hire. I assumed that if I had been chosen, I would have heard by then. I was bummed, but ready to keep on truckin’! Another week went by, and I got an email from with the subject line, “Congratulations!” I shrieked like I had just won American Idol.
I won’t lie, I am still a tad shocked that I was chosen. I certainly didn’t feel at the time like I was making a fabulous impression. But do I think they made a mistake in choosing me? Absolutely not. I am just starting my apprenticeship now, but I hope to show them that they made a fantastic decision. Wish me luck!