Keeping with the monthly guest artist post (remember Chris and Cryss?), allow me to introduce the fabulous Hanna Ashbaugh. Hanna is a wardrobe stylist and her work is an important visual element in the overall look of photo and video production. A wardrobe stylist builds their career in a very similar way to hair and makeup stylist, so take a minute to learn from her experience.
Share Hanna’s story with anyone you know who is just getting started in the industry. Tweet it out by clicking here.
When did you get started in the industry?
I began right after I graduated college. I came from a very entrepreneurial family and really was raised in a mindset that anything was possible. My brother asked me what I wanted to do. There wasn’t any hesitation: I wanted to be a personal shopper. I had totally unreal expectations though and had a difficult start. I had no business background, I was pretty clueless where/how to begin.
What do you specialize in?
I am a wardrobe stylist in the commercial and print advertising world. I also am a personal shopper for busy women that want to look polished in 20 minutes or less.
What do you love most about your work?
I love both worlds of wardrobe styling. I love working with a crew of people on the advertising jobs because there is SO much that goes into that one shot or that final 30 second commercial. It’s exciting to be part of a team and see an end result. On the other hand- I love my independent clients. Honestly, I feel like they are my friends and we’re laughing about a horrible piece of wardrobe they’re still holding on to from 8 years ago , yet they haven’t worn it. I love hearing about their love stories and their lives. Being in someone’s closet and wardrobe is an intimate experience. I love that.
What is your favorite product or tool that you couldn’t live without?
My favorite product or tool that keeps me sane are my rolling racks and steamer! I use those constantly. It’s the simple things that make my job easier:)
What was your biggest challenge with getting started?
My biggest challenge to get into the advertising field: actually getting IN. The photographer I was working with on my very first website for before/after pictures (which, by the way, were a total mess) I had mentioned I was interested in styling advertising, she told me her aunt’s best friend did that and we should chat. It took me 6 months to actually reach this woman, she was so busy and she had an assistant at the time (by the way- I said I would work for free, I really just wanted to get the experience. She said “no no, we’ll get you paid.” Once I finally had my first job with her, wow. She is one of the kindest, most talented women I know. Her work ethic, personality, everything. I feel like I got so lucky.
And- I am glad I didn’t stop calling after the 5th month! It’s important to keep going. so important!
Similar, of course my biggest challenge getting independent clients was again, getting actual clients. It started small. And I began getting more and more clear on whom my clients were and the market I was serving. Especially after I took Marie Forleo’s B-School.
How do you stay inspired and motivated?
There were (sometimes still are) days as a freelancer that I wanted to quit. Sometimes I dreamt of how nice it would be to clock in and clock out. To receive the same amount (paycheck) every two weeks. Insurance. Mostly all the admin stuff taken care of- but, the lifestyle I want and my passion, it’s impossible to lose or let go of. Wardrobe will always be a part of me.
And stay in conversation, surround yourself with positive people, people that will push you and help you grow. I think that is HUGE. Also, know and understand the job. On commercial gigs I have stood in one spot and practically steamed wardrobe for 6 hours straight. Or know you’ll be hauling 50 plus pounds up the stairs to see your client. It’s definitely not glamorous or fun all of the time! Have realistic expectations.
What is your biggest piece of advice for people just starting out?
Intern, intern, intern! Practice, do what you need to do to get your work in front of people. Have a really fabulous, kind and thoughtful e-mail or call ready when you are reaching out to potential employers.
I cannot tell you how many ridiculous e-mails I receive that are so generic, have grammatical errors or look as if they were typed on an IPhone in 2 minutes. I am not saying you need to be perfect (you may make a spelling error or two, it happens) but re-read your e-mail.
If you were reading or hearing your correspondence, would you be inspired to hire you?
I also recommend getting portfolios together so you can send a sample of your work when you are reaching out. There are always photographers looking to build their portfolios. Exchange and swap ideas. Be kind.
Thanks Hanna for sharing your industry insight! To keep up with Hanna, check our her website and other social medial links below.