As a baby fashion stylist, I’ve seen this asked a multitude of times. I just had someone find me from Youtube and dm’d me on Instagram to ask this exact question “how do I build my portfolio?”. For those stylists, especially living or working in smaller cities where “styling” is not seen as a norm or a best practice – it can be hard to find your first break. I’ve said this before and will always say this – you have to create your own opportunities, and when it comes having a resume to make you look legit, you have to create the work yourself…let me explain:
Establish Your Styling “Style”
I’ve talked about this a few times on my podcast – when it comes to getting styling clients, you first have to establish what type of stylist you want to be (ex. personal stylist, wardrobe, editorial) and then you have to identify who you’re specifically talking to, aka your ideal customer. Everyone is not going to be your ideal client, especially because most people see styling as a luxury and not a necessity. Understanding target audience and consumer marketing research is key before doing anything else.
For example – I am not a “personal” stylist. I am a branding stylist who works with creatives and entrepreneurs who have an established brand identity that wants to use the power and tools of aesthetics to represent their brand 24/7. You can also think of this as a form of image consulting and working with people who are more in the public eye. I have moved away from the everyday person because that’s not who my target audience is. So, before you can build your portfolio and start to attract clients, you have to know who you’re looking for.
Use Yourself As The Ideal Client
A lot of stylists are also fashion bloggers, influencers, and content creators which, a lot of times, is why people may book you for a service. Your potential client identifies with your personal style and has a want to look like the styling niche you possess and even the confidence you have. This is a great example of how leveraging platforms like social media can help create a digital portfolio where you use OOTD looks and content of yourself for your audience to find and gravitate towards.
Collaborate With Other Creatives
Creatives that should be a stylist’ best friend are designers, boutique owners, models, influencers, and other stylists. I think it’s essential to have people in your tribe that know the ins and outs of what you are trying to do – to offer sound advice or at least be there as a support system. Furthermore, especially with the relationship between a designer and a stylist is the designer has the vision of a garment, but the stylist can breathe life into it. If you can demonstrate the talent of taking clothes and elevating them and making them sellable, you can be a great asset to a designer which can open up the door to a new customer base.
Create Style Content
Blog posts, OOTD feed posts, styling reels, how to style advice on TikTok, haul video on Youtube – these are all examples of content you can create. Also – make sure you’re using the correct hashtags, keywords, and SEO tips to increase your visibility to really push your content forward. You can also use platforms like LTK & ShopShare to earn commission on recommendations your audience buys based on your content!
Ask Your Friends To Be Apart of Building Your Clientele
I’ve done this before and still do this when I need someone to serve as my “model” for content – offer a select few people – close friends or family, who you can offer services to at a discount in exchange for them agreeing to be apart of any promotional material and content you create. Also – have them submit testimonials that you can use on your website and social media
Let me know in the comments if these tips helped you, and other questions you have!