I’m a Late Career Bloomer and This is My Story.

The reminders on my phone are going off like hotcakes this morning. They’re to-dos I have to finish prior to this weekend’s shoot. Memos like “pick up jewelry from so and so’s boutique” and “meet boutique owner this afternoon” are spamming my lock screen.

Finding fulfillment in my work keeps me going. I’d rather be happy than comfortable with a steady paycheck.  I trust my intuition and keep my emotional well-being top of mind when it comes to working. By exploring opportunities that align with my interests, I’ve been able to fill those “happy” voids.

Sometimes these opportunities are not in search engines or the career section of a company’s website. I created opportunities for myself and have succeeded at an emotional level.

At one point, I wanted to be a UX designer. I reached out to former colleagues and asked if I could pick their brains about the subject matter. I even joined a UX boot camp to embellish what I learned from them. After completing several assignments, I realized it wasn’t for me and quit. Later on, I enrolled in a different UX course because I really thought I had a thing for user experience and interfaces. I dropped out the first week.

I then decided to fulfill digital marketing to spruce up my marketing background. I took online analytics, advertising and content marketing courses. This helped me gain a lucrative skill set, but I still found left brain activities more compelling and rewarding.

After five years of figuring out my calling, I decided to pursue styling.

I’ve always wanted to be a fashion editor/ stylist, but this idea fizzled away as I focused my energy on making a living and sustaining my social life in my 20s.

It was the first week of July 2017 when I decided to take styling more serious. I reached out to stylists and asked how they started. They told me what I needed to do in order to build a portfolio and how to become credible in the field. I was surprised to learn how resourceful, friendly and eager they were to help me. I digested their advice and fully embraced this career decision at 29.  

I continued to reach out to professionals including fashion editors, marketers, influencers, photographers and directors (you won’t always get a response, but when you do, the anticipation is worth the wait).  Once they’ve replied, I sent them a formal thank you and why I'm reaching out.

In most cases, I reached out for collaboration and volunteer opportunities.  I found ways to be scrappy and utilize the advice I was given to build a portfolio.

I started to style myself and post pictures to showcase my style. Once I had enough images, I took my styling to the next level and reached out to photographers for photo shoot opportunities. One message led to another and before I knew it, I was on set styling for a photographer in San Francisco.

My first styling gig was a monochromatic project. This was the foundation for building a portfolio and establishing my credibility. After working on this project for five months, I wanted to go outside the color spectrum and explore editorial work.

I created an opportunity to style my first editorial shoot and was successful at networking to make it happen. I worked with a talent agency in San Francisco and pitched an idea I had for a shoot. It was a dream project I gave myself and worked hard to prove myself I was capable. 

Today, I consider myself a fashion editor/ stylist in the making. There’s no doubt I get discouraged and weary about the future. I overcome these pessimistic thoughts by continuously learning and trying something new every day. I am embracing where I’m at in life and coming to the conclusion I'm on nobody’s timeline but mine.

In observance of starting a career later in life, I compiled a list of inspirational women who’ve started their careers well beyond their post-graduate years. Because who’s keeping track anyway?

 

Vera Wang

started her design career at the age of 40.  She was a figure skater and journalist pre-Vera Wang gown days.

Vivienne Westwood

started dressing the 80's punk rock band the Sex Pistols at 30. It wasn't until her 50s when her mini crini skirts made a radical influence on the fashion industry.

 

Patricia Field

was the eye behind the wardrobe in the TV hit series (and my hands down favorite), Sex and the City. She styled other major productions including The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty. She was 54 when her styling career took off. 

Jessica Chastain

always knew she wanted to be an actress. At 31, she was casted for the first time in Tree of life and The Help, earning her two Oscar nominations. 

Kerry Washington

already made it big in Save the Last Dance. But at the grown and sexy age of 35, she landed her huge role as Olivia Pope on the TV hit series Scandal

Anna Wintour

got her big break as a fashion editor in her late 20s before securing her spot as British Vogue's editor-in-chief at 36. She was crowned editor-in-chief at Vogue US a few years later.

Source: MyDomain

In the Lab: The Future of Fashion is Here

It was my first time visiting Tbilisi. I had no expectations, but to meet my cousin and explore the Georgia she knew. I was eager to experience everything about the country: the food, the people, the nature and the fashion. It was Mercedes Benz Fashion Week the same week I arrived. We were outside the trendy Rooms hotel where a black Mercedes read “Mercedes Benz Fashion Week” on its immaculate black shiny exterior. My heart fell into my stomach as I immediately started to research if it was true. As my waking hours met sunrise that night, I reached out to Founder and Creative Director of GeoFashionLab, Makka Khutsishvili. 

GeoFashionLab is an online luxury boutique showcasing premium and upcoming Georgian designers in a global market. Founder and self- taught designer, Makka, created this space to create an exclusive shopping experience where “fashionistas” can find unparalleled style in limited quantities (because no fashionista wants to wear what you can have). Designers include Eloshi, Ani Datukishvili, U.G.L.Y (You Gotta Love Yourself), Atelier Marta and other noteworthy labels.

Models Mariam Tsukilashvili and Doo Khutsishvili are wearing sandals by Nini Patsatsia and earrings by jewellery designer Gateo throughout photos. Handbags by 11:11. Photo courtesy by Makka. 

 

History is embedded in the fashion scene of Tbilisi; if you’re a world citizen, the subject matter is imperative to understand. Tbilisi is the capital and largest city in Georgia. It sits in the Caucasus region of Armenia and Azerbaijan and was under Soviet Rule for 70 years. In April of 1991, it declared its independence as the Republic of Georgia and has undergone civil war and economic crisis. The aftermath of the post-soviet era stimulated an iconoclastic society where fashion and culture coincide. Head designer of Vetements, Demna Gvasalia, symbolized various counterculture and nostalgic elements throughout his Summer 2019 show at venue Bassiani. He capsuled Tbilisi’s “raveolution” after invasions of armed officials raided the underground venue earlier this May. Symbols of the Georgian flag and hashtag “We dance together, we fight together” phrase demonstrated Gvasalia’s response to the political climate and perhaps, progressive change.  

The future is foreseeable for GeoFashionLab. It’s the first Georgian online luxury shopping destination in the Caucasus region that features Georgian designer ready-to-wear with an editorial rhetoric. Possibly the next Eurasian Net-A-Porter, Makka is continuously building her e-boutique and establishing its repertoire through fundamental tactics including in-house photo shoots, keynote speeches, collaborating with influencers, attending community events and producing authentic content to reach an international audience. Makka once said to me: “I live by Natalie Massenet’s quote: ‘Success begins at the magical moment when you declare to yourself, your friends, and the universe that you believe you can do something different.’"

I personally believe GeoFashionLab will takeoff and reach international recognition. It’s only a matter of time when the platform will get its big break. I am excited to see how Makka will transcend content and culture throughout her site as she continues to acquire more designers. Who knows, the crème de la crème like  Avtandil, Tamuna Ingorokva, Keti Chkikvadze and Diana Qvavariani may find their next real estate on the premium platform. There's also great potential for a strong digital presence that will help shape its marketing and editorial efforts. I also believe if there was a fashion lifetime achievement award for the most entrepreneurial and business savvy woman in Georgia, it would go to Makka.