The fashion world is such a broad place. You have designers, models, and most importantly, stylists! Why is being a stylist such an important job? Because when you are going for a certain look you need someone who will know exactly what to dress you in. Personally, I think having a stylist is a need depending on what career you are in, but to be able to pick and choose different outfits that fit the occasion is a true gift.
I received the pleasure of interviewing a friend of mine who is an up and coming stylist whose style I’ve always admired. She has ALWAYS had her own sense of style, and now you guys can see what styling is like through her eyes.
Tolani, Brooklyn, NY , 21
Jaukia McConeyhead: What does styling mean to you?
Tolani: To me, styling is having the ability to give people self -confidence. Styling is the talent of having someone walk past a window or mirror and allowing their reflection to brighten their mood. Styling to me is having the ability to reflect how you ÔÇ£wantÔÇØ to feel for the times when life gets rough but the world doesnÔÇÖt need to know. There are people in the world that find joy in giving back and I feel as though styling is just my way of giving back.
Jaukia McConeyhead: What has it given to you mentally, spiritually and physically ?
Tolani: Fashion has given me extra confidence and encouraged me to take risks. Mentally fashion has taught me not to be afraid to stand out in a crowd. I have grown to be confident in attending events where everyone has on jeans and sneakers, while IÔÇÖm the only one in heels or a fur coat and accessorizing. When attending events, most people ask around for the dress code or make their outfit decision after consulting with their friends first. I have learned to wear whatever makes me feel good in that moment and not to rely on the acceptance of others to choose an outfit.
Another thing in particular that fashion has done for me is that it has taught me to be more professional when it comes to social media. A few years ago, I would post whatever I felt in the moment. If there was a meme that reflected what I was going through, I reposted it but fashion and my passion for it has me thinking twice before I post. Being interested in an industry where social media can play a huge part in who notices you and your talent, posting anything offensive could be detrimental to the brand youÔÇÖre building.
While growing up and strengthening my relationship with God, I used to pray for signs of what my passion and purpose on earth is. Once changing my perception of ÔÇ£successÔÇØ (lawyers, doctors etc.), I allowed myself to see that fashion and styling is my passion and will be my road to success. Spiritually, finding the one job thatÔÇÖll make me emotional just thinking about it has put me at peace.
Physically, fashion has inspired me to be more conscious of working out and eating healthier. Everyone wants to look and feel good, and what better way to build your confidence than to look in the mirror and see your hard work paying off? I feel as though being fit just helps diminish ones fashion boundaries.
Jaukia McConeyhead: Are any of your friends/ family into styling as well?
Tolani: I have a very close friend by the name of Asia Milia who is interested in joining the fashion industry as well. Asia aspires to be in the editing portion of the fashion industry and also connecting the bridges between fitness and fashion. She is one of the people who holds me accountable and gives me honest feedback about any business plan I confront her with. I believe that is beneficial in life, to have someone aspiring to be in the same industry as you thatÔÇÖll understand your ideas and beliefs.
Jaukia McConeyhead: Where has styling┬átaken you? Have you received any opportunities?
Tolani: Being in the beginning stages of improving my personal brand, styling has allowed me to reach others through my fashion and gain people who look up to me and the outfits I put together. Fashion has allowed me to gain a relationship with my followers and understand that someone is always watching. Knowing that someone is always watching helps to hold me accountable for my actions and working harder. I feel as though self awareness and accountability leads to a strong business, so my opportunities and experiences in life right now are helping me strengthen the background of my business before the world gets to witness it.
Jaukia McConeyhead: What have you learned about yourself while getting into styling?
Tolani: What IÔÇÖve learned about myself is that I am stronger than IÔÇÖve given myself credit for. I believe it takes a strong person to hold himself or herself accountable for whatever their brand lacks. Whereas in an office, there are dozens of individuals who could be blamed for a mistake. Getting into styling has taught me to not compare myself to others, not in looks, fashion, hair etc. I have learned to be okay with looking different and choosing the ÔÇ£untraditionalÔÇØ approaches. For example, choosing to shave all of my hair off also helped me to be okay with doing whatever I feel is right for me and allowing my appearance and fashion to speak for itself.
Jaukia McConeyhead: Where do you want styling┬áto take you?
Tolani: I would like styling to take me to another level of happiness. I have found what makes me happy and the rest of my life will be about sharing that happiness with others. I see styling leading me towards having my own fashion line, for the items/ outfits I see in my head but canÔÇÖt find in stores. I see my line as having no limitations (shoes, jackets, bathing suits etc.). I want styling to allow me to have interns to share knowledge and to even start organizations to mentor young women.┬áI want styling to provide me with independent financial stability instead of being unhappy working for someone elseÔÇÖs business. I see this taking me in a direction of reaching women older than my age bracket to trust my fashion and even challenging myself with menÔÇÖs fashion. I see styling as pushing me towards testing and improving the aspects of fashion I have yet to try.
Jaukia McConeyhead:Have you always had a passion for fashion? In any other type of fashion also?
Tolani: IÔÇÖve always had a passion for fashion and taking risks with different patterns and textures. But through school and life in general, youÔÇÖre taught the ÔÇ£mainstreamÔÇØ career choices and usually youÔÇÖre encouraged to find love in the careers that pay the most money. With that mindset, I never considered making fashion my game plan; it was just an ÔÇ£on the sideÔÇØ type of love. I had to explain to myself that you cannot give 50% to something that finds you so much joy. After reading the book ÔÇÿAbout My Sisters BusinessÔÇÖ,┬áone section that spoke to me discussed that in being an entrepreneur; it will not succeed if you put one foot inside the door and the other foot outside. How could my fashion/ styling career 100% succeed while IÔÇÖm unhappily working for someone elseÔÇÖs business just for stability? I could not sell myself short.
Jaukia McConeyhead: Biggest inspiration in the fashion world?
Tolani: I have three inspirations when it comes to the fashion industry. Those women include June Ambrose, Olori Swank and Sai Sankoh. When I was younger, I didnÔÇÖt like my name because it was so different but once I realized that fashion is my passion, these women have inspired me to find strength in my name and to use it as the foundation of my brand. Through following these amazing fashion- moguls, they have shown me that being an entrepreneur does not mean you have to be ÔÇÿboringÔÇÖ or ÔÇÿpolitically correctÔÇÖ to keep your supporters happy. They all have a way of displaying their personality and allowing their talent to speak for itself. Whether itÔÇÖs having random dance battles, rapping along to the most recent rap songs, or sharing their dating experiences, these women show women like me that they are relatable.
Jaukia McConeyhead: What word of advice would you have given yourself when you began?
Tolani: One thing I would have told myself when I began is to not give up or second-guess yourself. I would have assured myself that no matter how many individuals aspire to be a stylist, God has created you with a sort of uniqueness thatÔÇÖll set you aside from others.I say this because a lot of my reservations in the beginning of this chapter of my life were questioning how I could be successful in fashion when there are so many people with the same aspiration.
Jaukia McConeyhead: 10 years from now, where is Tolani?
Tolani: In 10 years, I see myself having built a brand. The plan is to use my brand and success to be in a position to help other young women interested in fashion and styling. Being Sociology major at Hampton University (completely opposite of being a stylist) I believe that in 10 years IÔÇÖll be in a position to help women who go to college for one thing but later find their passion in something so ÔÇ£untraditionalÔÇØ. A part of my future would be teaching others the importance of self branding and doing your own research when youÔÇÖre not physically connected with people in your industry of choice. In 10 years, I plan to have used my struggles to clear the path of whoever will come after me.