How I Became a Working Personal Stylist

I believe in paying it forward.  Sharing your knowledge with others so that they too can realize their dreams.  It doesn’t mean you have to share the inner workings of your business…but sharing bits and pieces can inspire others and is just the right thing to do…at least it seems that way to me.  I probably consult once or twice a month.  Nothing formal…usually a phone call or a quick meeting.  I often have emails waiting in my inbox from college students or recent graduates in fashion to help with events or asking some guidance.  I also have spoken with quite a few fashion bloggers who are looking to take their blogs to the next level and turn them into a business.  I never charge…and probably should…afterall time is money and all that jazz….but the truth is I enjoy sharing. In no way, shape or form am I saying I know it all….certainly learning as I go…but something is working and going right.  I am consistently growing, getting busier and busier.  I work a solid three days a week and for the second year I will actually be making money at this styling thing.  So here is some advice, if you wish to take it:)

1. WORK RETAIL. I give this advice to any young person starting out in the industry. Retail is a tough gig…but it is the beating heart of the fashion industry. In my opinion it is essential to being a successful personal stylist, shopper or closet expert. You will learn the ins and outs…no college class can teach….you will work with all different types of customers….with an array of personalities and body types. I am always perplexed by “fashion experts” and “personal stylists” that have never actually worked with people in a retail setting. It seems odd to me. If you are looking to work one on one with clients one day…I would recommend seeking out a boutique setting as opposed to a department store. You will be trained in more personalized service and will be exposed to the buying, merchandising and operational processes of retail. If you are good at what you do, you will also most likely connect with a clientele and make relationships that could potentially start your career when you are ready to branch out on your own.

2. GET INVOLVED. Network in your community and get involved in fashion events. Any fashion production company will always welcome volunteers and although you won’t be paid, you will see the inner workings of fashion events. Same for boutiques. Network with boutique owners and offer to help out or volunteer unpaid when they have special events. If you ever wish to style fashion shows or models this is hands on knowledge and look at it as an investment in your future. Some of my highest paychecks over the past three years working as TSF have been from fashion show production.

3. TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY. When I first started The Box Service I had no minimums and would literally take every opportunity to “style someone” that came my way. Any friend or friend of a friend who wanted their closet done…I would donate my time. I am not suggesting you do this for long periods of time but like anything, you have to pay your dues. If you want to have the flexibility, freedom and empowerment that comes from working for yourself you must also put in the blood, sweat, tears and investment. After about 3 or 4 months of doing this….I had built a first tier of clientele and it has proven to work for me. Important to note…you must be sure to let the client know the normal service fee and that you are waiving the fee for them as a one time courtesy. If you love what you do and provide value, they will absolutely book you in the future. This worked for me and the first tier have become my core clients that get seasonal boxes and roll in the rack services. My donation of time has paid for itself tenfold. Fast forward three years and I have put minimums (clients must spend a certain amount) on boxes and can only book paid closets…if you do good work and are passionate…this will happen for you!

4. THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX. Times are changing. More and more people are shopping online and getting personalized service from online retailers. If you want a piece of that pie you have to think outside of the box. What makes you different? Unique? What service or convenience can you provide that they cannot get elsewhere? After some time, your deep personal relationships will be the reason that clients come back, but until then you have to grab them with something they need! For me, it was most definitely my box service. By shipping specifically curated fashion boxes to clients doorsteps I have saved them countless hours online, trips to and from the mall and also lend my professional styling aesthetic. I style about two boxes per week consistently throughout the year (except for January and July) and this is my fastest growing service.

If you have specific questions I can answer for you, please feel free to email me or leave a comment below. I would love to help inspire you on your fashion journey. Best of luck!!!

Posted by Carly Walko



34 responses to “How I Became a Working Personal Stylist”

  1. Nnene says:

    Thank you for this post. I really like the tip or getting involved with community fashion events. Thanks again!

  2. You’re a good one. Anyone is lucky to have your advice. Beautiful, KILLING IT and super humble. Adore you.

    Tanya xx

    November Grey

    Visit my new video series —–> Séchoir

  3. Vicky says:

    This is an excellent post! Your advice is invaluable and a gift.

    I never thought of going this route but the more I write about fashion the more people ask my advice. Thank you!

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