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