This week, we talked with Joy Coakley, Prop & Soft Good Stylist for Poppy Creative Agency, about her path to becoming a multi-talented stylist. We love her energy for the job and how much she encourages all creative types to work hard and weather the ever-changing waters of a freelance career. Here’s what she had to say about falling in love with the stylist’s life.
My styling career began while I was studying photography in school. As a photography student, you have to produce, style and shoot a lot of your work. Once I got myself on set, assisting photographers and working side-by-side with stylists, I quickly realized that it was the styling aspect that was the most fun for me. I talked the director of the photography department into letting me do my semester internship with a stylist instead of a photographer – the rest is history.
I spent a few years assisting a variety of stylists, working with everything from food and wardrobe to props and soft goods. I even dabbled in some makeup and hair styling at one point. After a few years of training with some very talented people, I started taking on styling work of my own.
Styling allows the opinionated designer in me to perfect things. It’s challenging and so rewarding when seemingly impossible projects come your way and you are able to come up with a creative solution and persevere. Sometimes it’s just nutty – I like it.
As I think back to years past, from always rearranging my room when I was younger, to my early twenties’ work experience as a catering and event designer, to the interior design classes I took in college when I thought I may go that route, to the floral design training and experience, to my photography degree and my love of capturing beauty, I realize that styling has been a perfect fit for me.
4 Tips from Joy About Becoming a Stylist
1. Be persistent and hustle. There’s a way to be eloquent and, at the same time, also be the squeaky wheel.
2. Always be thinking about updating and improving your portfolio – it’s important to keep it fresh.
3. Be prepared. This sounds so obvious, but my biggest pet peeve is a stylist who shows up to a shoot without tools, props and other necessary items.
4. Don’t let the ups and downs of the freelance lifestyle hold you back. If you let those struggles in too much, they’ll become your worst enemy.