Many fashion students dream of the glamorous red carpet side of the fashion industry. But what is sexy about hauling boxes, pulling all nighters and becoming chummy with the Home Depot guys? The secrets of being a freelance fashion stylist are probably a mix of the two realities.
We recently sat down with uber talented career fashion stylist Kristin Paquette who's been making things happen in New York City for 20 years to uncover truly what does it take to create a life and career you love out of your creativity.
Give us a little background, who you are, how you got into this fashion business.
I have an interesting background that combines – timing, luck, talent and persistence.
My degree is in Apparel but it was the role of a costume designer that led me to New York.
But let's start at the beginning. . .
Right after graduation [Kristin went to RISD, I told you she's uber talented and uber smart] I got a full time job in Boston as a sweater designer. It ended up not being all the exciting action I wanted for myself right out of college. But luckily, I met had met a costume designer while at RISD and kept in touch. I worked with them as an assistant costume design learning script breakdown, character development, and how to really improve my craft of making characters come to life in their apparel. With that excitement in my sails, I set my sights for NYC.
I spent the first 8 years alternating between developing fashion tech packs, doing costume AND set design plus building a few props along the way. With fashion jobs, I learned how to see color, create trend boards, and analyze runway. When styling for TV, catalog or theater, I combined all my skills simultaneously with the fun stories of celebrities and experiences that we all love to hear.
I honestly feel like I ran from to one job to the next almost 24 hours a day. It never got boring and I loved every minute of it.
I also never said no. I would figure anything out. From how to attach an actual tree stump to a trend board, to building and painting giant meat sculptures for a short film. (this was way before Lady Gaga made meat trendy and I am a vegetarian to bout!).
And here's the meat...[I still can't believe this is not real].
You have a mesh of talents. Do you think that is essential for any entrepreneur these days?
Yes, more and more big companies are downsizing and combining jobs into one. You have to be ready to come up with color concepts, work on the runway show and send out Instagram photos for social media documenting so you can prove the value of your work with analytics tomorrow.
We really have to know it all or be able to figure it out. So truly, the more skills you have the better. The faster you can start to build your own idea and dream what's next the better you are positioning yourself for your next gig.
How much of your time is spent on building the business, like prospecting, managing clients, versus doing the work you do such as trends and actual styling.
I try to balance my day so that not all of it is on business development some of the day is being creative. That's essential for me not to lose my cool and creative outlet.
I keep a running creative list. While I am working on business issues a creative idea will sometimes pop up so I need to write it down, and not chase it at the moment. And vice versa, sometimes when I'm being creative I get a business idea. For example, I may be looking for inspirational images on Pinterest and see something that makes me think of who I should go after for new business or how I can improve my business or website.
What would you do if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I would be doing a combination of sculpture and painting while also working on learning coding and how to scrape the internet.
I am definitely both brained…..
What’s on your playlist now?
Tame Impala, XX, A Tribe Called Quest, Group Love, Depeche Mode, Coconut Records, Tove Lo, Gorillas, John Newman.
What other forms or art inspire you?
I love sculpture, architecture, and product design. There is so much innovation in new materials wearable tech and fabrics it is amazing.
I love the Museum of Art and Design ( MAD Museum) and the New Museum for up and coming early influencers as well as PS1 in Queens. I love going to Miami for Art Basel to look at the outfits people wear and also be inspired by the art– it is like a double show these days. And I am lucky to live in New York. It is all here! From new stores, young talent, creative people, restaurants- I am always looking, snapping and remembering.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
What do you wish you knew when you started freelancing, that you know now?
Work your plan and plan your work.
There is nothing bad about being organized and holding yourself accountable for reaching goals. It is the fool that leaves your life up to fate. You get a say in how your life is going to go!
Learn analytics and how to interpret the charts to make quantifiable strategic decisions to build your personal brand. And create an online strategy that builds your personal brand. It is really up to us to share our skills there is no one better person to promote you than you so get over being shy be REAL and authentic and keep going.
Well this has been a treat, Kristin. What did you all think? Are you ready to jump in and give it a go? Follow her over on Instagram and check out her impressive work on her site, KPaquette where she shares her seasonal fashion trend boards. And enjoy some of her projects below.