“Get a sensible job.”
“When are you going to face reality and get a real adult job?” “How are you going to pay your bills doing that?”
Have you ever heard these questions? It might be what your family or friends say to you when you mention your dream job of being a stylist, or something else that is artistic and not traditional. It might be what you say to yourself when you think about it laying in bed at night.
Being a personal stylist, however, can be a very “sensible” job.
If people are willing to pay for it, it’s a sensible job.
The truth is, if you are skilled and passionate for a certain line of work and someone is willing to pay you for that skill to add value to their lives, then that job is sensible.
Personal styling, commercial fashion styling, interior design…these professions definitely fall into that ‘sensible’ job category. There are plenty of people and companies willing to pay for those services. So you, my friend, are on the right path if you have the skills and talent and are willing to do what it takes.
Sensible jobs benefit you, your customers, and the economy.
Every job that adds value to someone’s life and they are willing to pay for it adds value to the economy. And that makes that job valuable in the world and in your community. As long as the job you’re pursuing is a valuable, viable career in an economy, then it is a “real” job.
So how do you tell that to Grandma, or Aunt Joy, who won’t get off your back for not being a lawyer or doctor?
In order for a job to be sensible for you, you need to be good at it. Great at it, in fact. That usually results from a combination of natural talent, study, and training of some kind.
For example, if you faint at the sight of blood, being a doctor would be a foolish choice. Or if law puts you to sleep faster than an Ambien, you might want to pass on law school. You want to pursue a path that you at least have a natural interest or talent in. Then you can move on to studying and training for it.
So is personal styling a ‘sensible’ job for you?
Make sure the dream you are pursuing is not a ‘dream’.
First, you’ve got to be real with yourself.
When I taught acting classes, I remember the first day of one of my classes. I asked my students what acting role they believed to be the ideal role for themselves. They were all delusional in their answers. When I made the choice even simpler and asked the girls, Juliet or the Nurse (from Romeo & Juliet)? All but two of the girls said Juliet. They all firmly believed they could be Juliet.
Now, I don’t want to steal any little girl’s dream of being the ‘sought after maiden’ in her story. In her life story she very well may be. But in her pursuit of a career in acting, she must know that very few girls can pull off Juliet. Many more girls will be able to play the Nurse way before they’ll ever be offered the role of Juliet.
Even if you’re not the Juliet type, you can still have a fruitful career as an actor, but only if you know what you can realistically perform.
I told my students to really think about this. Their archetypes, their physicalities, how others perceived them, their energies, etc…and how they would cast the role if they were the casting directors. I still got the same delusional response even after all that analysis.
The reason I bring this up is because, much like the acting world, I meet dreamers in the styling world who are impractical about their real ability to be successful stylists, personal or commercial. Again, this is not meant to squash anyone’s dreams, it’s meant to save you time and heartache and to motivate you to find your real dream if this one turns out to not be it. But first, you should first discover if it is or not.
Is this the right career path for you?
“You want me to hold it??!”
“But, can’t the sales girl do that?”
“When are we going into the high end designer section?”
“Can’t she get it herself?”
“Sighhhh…my feet hurt. When can we take a break?”
“That dress looks amazing on you, why aren’t you getting it? What? What do you mean you can’t afford it?”
I gave this woman a chance to work for The Shopping Friend by having her start off as my assistant. Our initial emails and conversations were very nice. Our first shopping trip with her in tow, I had the silly expectation that she was actually going to help me.
Above is just a small sample of the questions and comments I got peppered with by her all afternoon. Her “help” became my mega-headache. And my amused client just stood there and watched the comedy of a ‘woman living in delusion’ unfold.
My assistant’s dream of what a stylist was did not line up with the reality of what a stylist is. Even in the midst of an actual styling session, she was not willing to let go of her vision of what a personal stylist did and embrace learning reality. She then became the biggest pain in my butt for the rest of that afternoon.
I got rid of her the second my client was out of view.
Make sure you know the truth of your dream job.
What I have learned about “dream jobs” is that they are rarely what you expect. The reality of a dream job is usually not so dreamy.
To be sure that you’re not blindly jumping into cold, harsh, icy reality, do your homework. Ask around, research, even reading this article is a good step towards figuring it out. Once you know for sure that you know what the job entails and that you are more than prepared to do it, then you can take the next step.
Is it all about the ‘talented artist’ in styling?
Do you need to know all the brands and designer labels to be a good personal stylist? Doesn’t hurt but isn’t always necessary.
Do you need to love fashion to be a personal stylist? It helps.
Do you need to understand style and how to create an outstanding look on every body type, shape, size, color, gender, and personality? Absolutely.
Do you need to get along with people of all different personality types? Hands down, yes.
Do you need to understand that this job isn’t about you, it’s about the people who you’re adding value to their lives? Yes! If you don’t get that first and foremost, get out now. Run. Fast. Being a stylist is not about your talent, it’s about your help.
Do you need to understand human psychology and empathize with people’s problems? Of course. You don’t need a psych degree but understanding your clients’ predicaments and issues will help you better serve them by solving their problems. You can’t solve a problem that you don’t understand.
Notice that “being an artist” and “having a fabulous red carpet persona” are not on this list.
Don’t get me wrong. Artistic talent is essential. Essential. You cannot succeed as a stylist without talent and skill.
Talent is what you develop out of pursuing your passions and interests. Talent is a skill you already have, or have learned, cultivated, and practiced until you’re expert. Talent is what makes you able to add value to someone else’s life. Talent is what will allow you to make styling a fruitful career with longevity.
Talent is not what the job is about, however. The job is about your clients and adding value to their lives. Talent is a necessary tool to have in order to do the job. Once you recognize the distinction, you are ready to move forward and prosper as a stylist.
A goal without a plan is just a wish. Know the business.
When I started The Shopping Friend, I learned everything the hard way. Growth was excruciatingly slow because of it. I didn’t understand all the components of running a business. I was all art and style and very little business planning and marketing. That does not make for a successful personal styling business.
Years into it, I finally created a system for my business. The process of creating that system, I’m afraid, would have tortured any seasoned entrepreneur or business person had they been forced to witness it.
Learning on my own and crawling through pockets of understanding was unnecessarily slow. I found business coaches and mentors over the years who taught me different aspects of building and maintaining a business, but no one who ever helped me just see the big picture. And after collecting all these different pieces of info from hundreds of different sources, I was finally able to piece together the big picture, myself, of how to successfully run a styling business.
Pieces, like how to market effectively. How to utilize resources. How to create partnerships. How to provide consistent and excellent customer service. How to grow our customer base. How to deal with all the legalities of America’s tax system.
If you are just starting to build your own thriving styling career or business, you can have a booming business without years of struggle with proper business guidance and education. There are many places to get it. Stylist School Online is one of them.
When I was first building The Shopping Friend, these internet based educational businesses were not around yet. Business education wasn’t so easily accessible. Today it is. And it’s a phenomenal thing.
You are ready to pursue your styling career!
You know your passion. You know your dream. You know the realities behind them. And you still want to pursue this path.
Great! Pursuing a career that embraces both your artistic and practical talents can be rewarding and lead to great success. Live your dream and love your life! Learn how to become a personal stylist now.
Our Ultimate Personal Styling Business Program can show you how to live your dream as a ‘sensible’ job.