Tools of the Trade: Joy Coakley’s Intuitive Soft Goods Styling

Welcome back to our Tools of the Trade series! In the past we’ve talked to Ana Homonnay about her love for strobes and Shaun Sullivan about his minimalist approach. This month, we chatted with our Soft Goods Stylist Joy Coakley and it was incredibly obvious just how much she loves her career. Joy has an inherent ability to deliver exactly what each client wants, even when she has little guidance about the direction of a shoot. With a deep-seated sense of soft goods and an excitement for her job some people only dream of, she creates memorable setups time after time.

“There are several tools that I rely on when I am soft styling. Whether or not I am actually using each one for every shoot, I always bring my kit along: T-pins, my professional iron, foil tape, quality pillows and duvet inserts, a ridiculous amount of batting and felt, and an amazing soft styling assistant to help keep things moving fast. But my go-to tools are just a part of the equation of making fabric look good.”

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Soft Goods Styling by Joy Coakley, Poppy Creative Agency in Bay Area

Soft Goods Stylist: Joy Coakley

Soft Goods Styling by Joy Coakley, Poppy Creative Agency in Bay Area

Soft Goods Stylist: Joy Coakley

“I’ve always thought that perfectly-styled fabric happens organically. Before starting a shoot, I’m not usually briefed on the art direction for the room we’re creating. But once we’re on set, I’m given product to work with and some inspirational words to go by. It really depends on the company brand and what look they are trying to achieve. The art director may even describe a person who lives in that room and how they just got out of the bed or how a specific textile is being used. Then I take it from there.”

Soft Goods Styling by Joy Coakley, Poppy Creative Agency in Bay Area

Soft Goods Stylist: Joy Coakley

Some clients want a very clean and meticulous bed. Others favor a more realistic lifestyle approach. I have fun doing both.

“I love the way that I let my intuition guide the fabric. After a decade of getting to know textiles closely, it’s usually an instinctive experience. Of course, there are universal design rules that I am keeping in mind at all times, such as tangent lines, balance, flow. But my most important tool for working with soft goods is my understanding of how soft goods feel and move.”

Connect with Joy on Instagram and visit her website at JoyCoakley.com. Keep up with our Tools of the Trade interviews, when we talk with our team members about their favorite gadgets, contraptions, instruments and gizmos that help them do their job better than ever.

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