Monday, September 10, 2012

ODC Insider - Lydia-Jane Saunders; Fashion Stylist

Name: Lydia-Jane Saunders
Age: 31
Job description/ Role: Fashion stylist & Personal Shopper

Educational background: Bachelor of Communications from Charles Sturt University

Does what you studied relate to what you currently do? How did you learn the skills required to do what you do??
Yes and no. Communications is not what you would study to be a Stylist but it has helped me with the skills to understand the advertising industry which I do work within. I do wardrobe for advertising clients such as Qantas and Dr Lewinns and my degree has taught me to understand the advertising process. I think with styling you need to naturally have the ability and passion to do it but I learnt how the industry works by starting from the bottom up doing an internship at a magazine and assisting freelance stylists. When I started out 10 years ago there were not many places you could 'learn to be a stylist', there are a lot more now.

What was your first job and/or did you work in the industry during your study?
My first paid job within the industry was as Fashion Assistant at In Style magazine. I came across this job whilst I was doing an internship at Marie Claire magazine. I had originally started that internship whilst still at university within the features department. That is where I discovered what a stylist was and realised that is what I wanted to do.

What advice would you give others wanting to get into the fashion industry?
Assist, assist, assist! Be prepared to start at the bottom and be prepared for hard work. It is far from the glamourous industry that most believe it is. It is long hard days. You need to be good at planning, budgetting and networking. You need to be organised and have a lot of energy. If you are wanting to be a stylist for the parties, forget about it!

Have you had to work for free to get a foot in the door?
Absolutely. 95% of stylists would have. I did the Marie Claire internship for over 12 months for free. I also assisted the amazing UK Stylist, Hilary Alexander for free. Both were integral to learning the industry. Still, 9 years on, I do submission shoots for free. This is where a team (photographer, stylist, hair, make up and model) come together to do a shoot out of their own pocket to submit to magazines to enhance their reputation and portfolio. I also from time to time style charity fashion shows for free.

Im sure many people would think being a fashion stylist sounds like a glamorous job? What’s it really like?
Long, hard days and very physical. As a freelance stylist I spend a lot of time in my car sourcing around Sydney for clothes and props. I am constantly carrying something, loading and unloading the car, packing cases, unpacking cases. Sometimes I think being a stylist is like being a glorified courier or a glamourous bag lady. There are definitely glamourous aspects like launch parties and openings and being able to view collections before anyone else, but in all honesty I'm usually too busy to go to them.

Who are you clients & how do you find them?
I have a real mix of clients for editorial and advertising work, from Qantas to Northside Magazine. Some have found me through word of mouth or my website. Others I have approached myself. Personal Shopping clients are mostly through an existing client or through my website, though I do see many people who I would love to go up to and hand them my card (but I can't)!

How did you find starting your own business?
I found it exciting and daunting at the same time. I was very lucky that I have incredible parents who have been very successful in business and offered financial support in the beginning & a lot of valuable advice. In saying that though, there were still days where it seemed impossible to make it successful. There were days that I was getting frustrated that it was taking so long and that I was putting in seriously long hours as my friends were partying after work. But I never gave up and never will.

How have you marketed yourself & your work?

A lot of my work comes via word of mouth or my websites. and I also actively make meetings to see advertising agencies and magazines. I have recently put out my first advert for LJS (personal styling) in Vogue magazine.

What is your favorite part about running your own business? And the hardest part?
My favourite thing about running my own business is what I feel I am accomplishing on my own. I love when I gain a new advertising client or see an editorial in print. I also love spending time styling every day people. I meet so many interesting people everyday. The hardest part is that I often don't feel like there are enough hours in the day. My to do list is constantly growing. I also dislike the actual business keeping side of it, keeping on top of the tax and insurance etc. 

What does your schedule in a day of the life of Lydia look like?
It varies from day to day. Some days I am sourcing for shoots, some days I am on set, other days are spent in meetings and others with personal shopping clients. Last week was very busy so I have picked one day – Thursday. On the Wednesday I had shot an editorial for Northside magazine which meant that all the clothes needed to be sorted and returned to the PR companies and designers. On the Friday and Sunday I was doing an advertising shoot for Intershape Hair Salon and an editorial shoot for Elle Russia. In total I visited 9 companies to do pick up and returns that morning. I then went to a pre-production meeting for an advertising job before heading into the city to style a catwalk show in Angel Place. Days like this are extremely caotic and exhausting but also fun. I am at my best when I am crazy busy! 

For a typical shoot, what is the process involved?
The typical process once booked for a job varies if it is editorial or advertising but in general it starts with a pre production meeting with either the client, art director or photographer (sometimes all 3). I will then source the clothing, props or product from designers, stores, antique centres and PR agencies which can take one to three days depending on the job. We then have the actual shoot day. Once the shoot is over myself or my assistant will return all the products borrowed and if it is editorial then I will write up the credits to be included with the story in the magazine.

Who and/or what inspires you?
So much! People, places, everything. Fashion wise, Katie Grand is a real inspiration. She is now the editor of Love magazine but previously was editor of Pop magazine. She also consults and styles for Louis Vuitton, Prada, Giles Deacon etc For interior styling inspiration I really look up to Megan Morton. She is an amazing interior and prop stylist who has just started The School where she runs craft classes. She has also written several books.

Any favorite websites/blogs/magazines?
Magazine wise I love Karen, Fallen, Factice (which is only online), Love and Purple. Within the last year I think bloggers have become really influential in the fashion industry. I try to read them but find I don't have much time. I do however read this one (naturally), the intersection paddington which keeps me up to date on our local designers, jakandjil for the great images and Bryan boy. I also like styling you by Nikki Parkinson and The Interiors Addict by Jen Bishop. I follow a lot of people with blogs on Twitter and Instagram so I see snippets all the time from lots of different bloggers.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
My ideal life in 10 years would be happily married with children. I'd like to have a great work life balance and to be in a position to choose the jobs I am offered. I would like to be doing more advertising styling and seeing more Personal Shopping clients.

And outside of work what do you love to do in your downtime?
I love to go to the cinema or to a play. My boyfriend and I are both big foodies so we go to a lot of fantastic restaurants and do some cooking classes. We love hosting dinner parties for friends and family aswell. Occassionally we do 'Sloth Day' where we stay in bed watching movies and eating junk food all day. I could do with more sloth days!

Drink of choice?
A Negroni, a dry chardonnay or on a special occasion a glass of Pol Roger Champagne.

Thanks so much for sharing a bit about your work & life with us Lydia!

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